TBLT for Teacher Development Implementing an Online Course María Elena Solares email@example.com Department of Applied Linguistics - CELE Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México September, 2007
Objective • Through direct experience in learning tasks participants will analyze and implement the principles of TBLT in order to assess its usefulness in their specific teaching context
This objective derived from 4 premises: • Direct Experience: Do as you preach • Implement: Performance-based curriculum design • Assess: not TBLT as the “golden method” but to raise teachers’ awareness of recent research in SLA • Addressed to Teachers: main agents of change Making SLA research accessible to Ts & raising teachers’ awareness of their teaching habits and of the kind of teachers they are to deal with change in language teaching
Reaching my course objectives implied: • Finding the way of making teachers experience TBI • Defining my concept of task in T Ed • Defining the aspects of TBI which were applicable to teacher education • Defining what my framework for TBL in teacher education would be
TBL Experience: what I wanted Involve Ts in learning “x” + analyze experience = TBI However: • “x”: different from English learning • Time constraints: 60 hours • Need to clarify concepts, present TBI in a historical context and respond to Ts’ needs analysis
TBL experience: what was achieved • Organizing knowledge around a main task • Main task: implementing = learning by doing • Having a pre-task stage with mini-tasks which prepared Ts to achieve the main task • Pre-tasks which allowed Ts to notice important features of tasks and of TBI necessary for the implementation • Post-task: identify teachers’ major problems and interests • First module in English in ALAD diploma possibility to explore L2 development in a content based course
Tasks in T Ed (Crookes, Prabhu, Ellis, Puren) A work plan where the primary focus is on solving a real-world teaching and learning problem and which promotes teachers’ reflection, questioning and searching for solutions. This work plan is usually reflected in a product or outcome.
Tasks (Ellis) Work plan Focus on meaning Real-world processes of language use Four skills Cognitive processes Communicative outcome Tasks in T Ed Work plan Focus on solving a problem Real-world teaching and learning problems Problems in the 4 skills Reflective, cognitive processes Outcome Criteria for Tasks in T Ed
Course Content • Unit 0: Speak to us of Teaching • Unit 1: What is Task Based Language Teaching? • Unit 2: Models for Language Teaching • Unit 3: What is a “task”? • Unit 4: Implementing TBLT • Unit 5: Assessing TBLT
UNIT 0 Speak to us of Teaching UNIT 5 Assessing TBLT UNIT 2 Models for LT UNIT 1 What is TBLT? UNIT 3 What is a task? UNIT 4 Implementing TBLT Course Structure Problem Input Major Problem Pre Task Task Post Task
Framework for TBL in Teacher Education (Puren) STATEMENT OF A PROBLEM Approached from teachers´ representations or beliefs about that problem I N P U T Through articles, models, interactive activities, online presentations engaging teachers in constant reflection and search INDENTIFICATION OF A MAJOR PROBLEM Attempt to solve a problem a major problem (no unique, universal solution)
Course Components • Course platform: units, personal folder, forum, gallery, tools (progress log, evaluation rubrics, course schedule, peers’ profile, etc.)
Course Components (cont.) • Tasks which promoted collaborative work and interaction at different levels: • Tutor-student: folder • Student-student: forum • Student-content: interactive activities
Course Components (cont.) • Samples of TBL implementation: interviews with implementers
Course Components (cont.) • Free online articles, books, books or articles summaries • Constant cycles of self-evaluation
The Online Course • Unit 0 • Unit 1 • Unit 2 • Unit 3 • Unit 4 • Unit 5
Preliminary Results Feedback Questionnaire
Course strengths • Organization • 5 sts: very well organized • 1 sts: some aspects were, others weren’t (tech. sup.) • Objectives • 6 sts: were reached and went beyond my expectations • Content • 6 sts: was very good, very useful and relevant to my teaching practice
Course strengths (cont.) • Materials • 6 sts: very useful and illustrative • Evaluation criteria • 6 sts: very adequate • Evaluation rubrics • 6 sts: were useful and clear to understand what was expected from me in each of the activities
Interesting Useful Seed for new projects At the cutting edge Motivating Very good It invited me to reflect and improve my classes Innovative Edifying Recommendable Attractive and fruitful It overcomes teachers’ isolation at work Excellent course Educational Some times tiring Course impressions
Things to improve • Time allotted to different units • 3 sts: enough • 2 sts: more time should be allotted to each unit • 1 sts: limited, some units needed more time (planning a TBL lesson, designing/transforming a task, implementation) • No. of activities assigned for each unit • 5 sts: enough • 1 sts: too many
Things to improve (cont.) • Kinds of problems you found in the course • 6 sts: technical (folder was not working properly, lack of support from technician) • In future courses • 3 sts: WWW resources should be better exploited • 2 sts: it was ok for me • 1 sts: audio, video-tapes and/or CDROM should be included
Suggestions for the course • Improve technical problems • More time should be considered for some activities • Reduce a couple of readings, specifically in unit 4 (implementation) • Course schedule should be extended to assimilate contents better
Conclusions & Insights • It is possible to make SLA research accessible to busy practicing teachers • The proposed approach for teacher education generated reflection and hopefully change in teachers’ practices • The course motivated teachers to further explore TBI in their classes • Presenting TBI in a historical context resulted useful and enlightening for teachers (against omitting unit 1) • Need for long-term teacher follow-up was expressed and it is also necessary study groups
Conclusions & Insights (cont.) • Instruments to measure teachers’ behavior or views before and after the course are necessary • Transforming exercises into tasks & writing TBL lesson plans were considered motivating, useful, challenging, meaningful, real-life tasks • Willis´ framework and Ellis’ approach to understanding “task” and TBL resulted enlightening and accessible. Both allowed Ts to look at TBL as a whole, as a larger pedagogic plan around a task • Evaluating TBLT: rejection to Swan’s criticisms • Task vs. exercise debate: Ts had clear idea about differences between task and exercise
Conclusions & Insights (cont.) • TBLT course + L2 teaching = more meaningful exp. (Ts apply what the learn + explore from the classroom + tutor & colleagues’ feedback) • More time for planning, implementing and assessing teachers’ experience is necessary • Online education allowed sharing and enrichment from different teaching contexts + “minimizing Ts’ isolation” • Swapping units 2 and 3
Future Research • Need to further explore TBI in teacher education • Need for instruments to measure Ts´ change in ways of thinking, attitudes and behavior • Need for teachers’ follow-up study groups • Results in wider/different communities • international • where L2 is an objective
Future Research (cont.) • New areas of research • The role of tutor’s feedback in teacher development • Ts’ interaction in discussion forums • Knowledge building in online education • When and how teachers’ awareness takes place
Task 1: Presenting Willis’ TBL framework • Pre-task • Poem Pre-Task Activities • Teacher’s role Teacher's Role • Mind map Pre-task.pdf • Task Cycle Task Cycle.pdf • Language Focus Language Focus.pdf
Task 2: Task vs. Exercise Debate • Participation in a debate Task-Exercise Debate.pdf • Supported argumentation (from someone else’s shoes) • A discussion is started from a concrete problem • Ts are asked to participate in discussion from a point of view contrary to their own • Each teacher must act as a person with different views from his/her own
Task 3: Creating evaluation instrument • Ts read a text and prepare an evaluation instrument based on its content for a different group to answer • Instrument 1 instrument 1.pdf • Instrument 2 instrument 2.pdf
Main Task: implementing TBLT • “Taskifying” textbook units • Teaching 2 parallel courses: same objectives + different methodology (“traditional” vs. TBLT) + exam + compare results • Analyzing textbooks from TBL perspective • Implementing TBL lessons and task created by Ts + observing sts’ response + writing Ts’ insights
Other pedagogical tasks • Matching concepts, interviewing colleagues, finding similarities and differences in teachers’ implementation of TBI, inferring concepts, reading to agree or disagree, analyzing different authors’ points of view, etc. • Tasks Characteristics (Skehan): motivating, meaningful, useful, at the appropriate level of difficulty • Course tasks lead teachers to comprehend, to analyze, to synthesize, to evaluate and to apply
PRE-TASK ACTIVITIES Engage your students In pre-task activities Advance preparation So goals are attained Defining objectives Will surely be needed Let students recall Eavesdrop here and there And words will sure flow Introduce vital phrases And language as well To make students confident For whatever may come But don’t you despair If problems do arise As pre-task activities Are only the start
What is TBLT? (unit 1) • What is TBL, its objectives, its theoretical support? • What does TBL consist on? How does it work? What are the advantages and disadvantages of TBL for learners and teachers? How efficient is TBL? • How much of CLT is there in TBL? What is the difference between TBL and CLT? • Where does TBL come from? Who created it, when and where? Who is/are its proponent(s)? What audience is TBL addressed to? For how long has it been used?
Models for Language Teaching (unit 2) • How can I use TBL in my classes? How is grammar approached in TBL? • Does TBL allow for focus on form? • Does TBL have any implications in lesson planning? How can I plan TBL classes? How can activities be sequenced in TBL? • Can TBL be applied to the 4 skills? • What kind of activities does TBL suggest for learners to go beyond communication and be able to automatize specific structures?
What is a task? (unit 3) • What is a task? • What is the main difference between a task and an activity? • What makes a “task” a task? • Why should we use tasks? What is their rationale? What do they consist on? • What type of tasks? • Are tasks always oral, written or both? • Can tasks be used in all languages and for any topic?
Course Structure: Principles of TBI (Skehan) • Instruction should allow for the experimentation and use of the model: pre, during and post task (implementing) • Selection of tasks should lead to a larger pedagogic plan: implementation of TBL • There should be conscious cycles of evaluation: self-evaluations + evaluation rubrics
Numa Markee (1997:80) “From the perspective of practicing foreign language teachers, SLA research is rarely worth reading because the ideas researchers discuss are too distant from teachers´ everyday classroom concerns. Furthermore, even when researchers discuss ideas that are potentially relevant to teachers, they often express themselves in such opaquely technical language that teachers are “turned off” from the whole idea of research”.