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The 5th APISA Congress Regional Integration in Asia and Europe in the 21st Century . The feasibility of task-based language teaching in a university setting in Cambodia. Sopheak Meas Institute of Foreign Languages, Cambodia Email: iflsopheak@yahoo.com.

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the feasibility of task based language teaching in a university setting in cambodia

The 5th APISA Congress

Regional Integration in Asia and Europe in the 21st Century

The feasibility of task-based language teaching in a university setting in Cambodia

Sopheak Meas

Institute of Foreign Languages, Cambodia

Email: iflsopheak@yahoo.com

Overseas Chinese University, Taichung, Taiwan

24-25 November 2011

slide2
Introduction
  • ELT in the Cambodian Context
  • The teaching of English in Cambodia was considered ‘illegal’ until 1988 (Moore & Bounchan, 2010; Pit & Roth, 2004)
  • GTM and PPP have both been of paramount dominance (Neau, 2003; Suon, 1990)
slide3

MoEYS has introduced a number of alternative approaches: CLT is strongly recommended (Neau, 2003)

  • TBLT: effective an approach, but no or little research on how it could be adopted or adapted in the contemporary context in Cambodia

Introduction (con’t)

slide4

Purposes of the Study

  • Investigating principles and practices in the current English language program and gauging the feasibility of adopting a task-based approach in the context
  • The findings: as a reference for the target university, whether task-based learning can be adopted, and how this adoption could be done appropriately

Introduction (con’t)

slide5

Research Questions

  • What principles and practices underlie the current university’s English language program?
  • What are the teachers’ perceptions of the current university’s English language program, and what do they think could be done to improve it?

Introduction (con’t)

slide6

How do the students feel about the approach already being adopted in the current university’s English language program, and what do they think could be done to improve it?

  • How can task-based approaches be most appropriately integrated into the current university’s English language program?

Introduction (con’t)

slide7
Literature Review
  • TBLT in Language Teaching
  • Definitions of Task
  • Skehan (1998): four main criteria: Meaning is primary; it is goal-directed; the activity is evaluated through outcome; and there is a real world relationship.
slide8

Aspects of Task:

  • Task-supported Language Teaching (TSLT)
  • TSLT: Facilitates communicative language practice and also follows the form-based language teaching (R. Ellis, 2003).
  • Uses traditional presentation, practice and production model (P-P-P) (ibid.).

Literature Review (con’t)

slide9

Task-based Language Teaching (TBLT)

  • TBLT: Uses tasks as a way of providing the basis for the whole language curriculum where language is learnt apparently mainly through communication (R. Ellis, 2003).
  • Learners: Free to choose whatever language forms (Willis, 1996, p. 24).

Literature Review (con’t)

slide10

TBLT in Asian Context & Issues Relating to Adopting It

  • 1. Support for TBLT
  • Mid-1990s in Hong Kong (Littlewood, 2007) and South Korea (KICE, 2008)
  • 2001 in China (Deng & Carless, 2009; Hu, 2005c)
  • 1997 in the Philippines (Vilches, 2003)
  • 2001 in Thailand (Todd, 2006)
slide11

2. Challenges for adopting for TBLT

  • Implementing communicative approaches
  • (CLT & TBLT) worldwide has often been proved difficult and challenging on a number of accounts (e.g., Adams & Newton, 2009; Adamson, 2006; Anderson, 1993; Brindley & Hood, 1990; Carless, 2007, 2009; Chick, 1996; Cortazzi & Jin, 1996; G. Ellis, 1996; Hu, 2002, 2005a, 2005b, 2005d; Hui, 1997; Li, 1998; Littlewood, 2007; Sakui, 2004; Taguchi, 2002)
slide12

These problems include:

  • Ss’ & Ts avoidance of using English
  • Minimal target language production
  • Incompatibility with assessment demands
  • Classroom related issues
  • Ts’ insufficient understanding of TBLT
  • Cultural issues
slide13
Methodology
  • Research settings & Participants
  • The research was conducted in university in Cambodia
  • 143/328 third-year students from six different classes out of the total 11 classes & six lecturers (male) participated in the study.
slide14
Methodology (con’t)
  • 2.Research Design
  • Case study:
  • According to Yin (2003, p. 23), case study enables an investigation of “a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context”.
slide15

4. Methods of Data Collection & Analysis

  • Questionnaire surveywith 143 Ss
  • Semi-structured Interview with 6 teachers
  • Document Analysis: Analyzing a sample unit of lesson from the course book “New Headway Advanced Student’s Book (3rd ed)”
slide17
Ss’ preferences for grammar teaching and language task (n = 143)
  • Note: *1 = strongly agree; 2 = agree; 3 = neutral; 4 = disagree; and 5 = strongly disagree
slide18
Ss’ perceptions of their own roles & their teachers’ (n = 143)
  • Note: *1 = strongly agree; 2 = agree; 3 = neutral; 4 = disagree; and 5 = strongly disagree
slide19
Ts’ Actual Approaches to Teaching English
  • The six teachers = Presentation, Practice and Production (PPP)
  • Individual work, pair work, or group work, or a combination of two of them to carry classroom tasks.
slide20

An analysis of the sample unit suggested that it conformed more to a task-supported language curriculum, than to a pure task-based language syllabus.

  • The materials the six teachers used also matched R. Ellis’s (2003) focused tasks.
  • Task-supported language syllabus

Material Evaluation

slide21

Ss’ feelings about speaking in English (n=143)

Ss’ Readiness for TBLT

  • Note: *1 = strongly agree; 2 = agree; 3 = neutral; 4 = disagree; and 5 = strongly disagree
slide22

5/6 Ts felt very comfortable and confident in using communicative English

  • 5/6 Ts had relatively low understanding of TBLT
  • 2 Ts feared that TBLT would not fit in well with the university being investigated
  • 4 Ts strongly supported the idea of introducing TBLT in the context

Ts’ Readiness for TBLT

slide23

The suitability of task-based approaches in the university setting under study

  • A genuine task-based approach might not be suitable in the context.
  • An alternative approach would fit in better.

Discussion & Analysis

slide24

1.1 Supporting Factors for TBLT

  • Students’ using communicative English
  • Teachers’ confidence in using communicative English
  • A new culture of teaching and learning English
slide25

1.2 Constraints for TBLT

  • Teachers’ lack of awareness of TBLT
  • Demands for direct grammar instruction
  • Washback effect of examinations
slide26

2. An alternative approach

  • Task-supported language teaching, or what Carless (2007) terms ‘situated task-based approaches’ seem viable (Carless, 2004).
slide27

Pedagogical implications

  • Assessment reform
  • Changing or adapting the textbook
  • to a local task-based one
  • Focusing on both forms and form
  • Building teachers’ knowledge of TBLT

Implications & Conclusion

slide28

Limitations of the study

  • Lack of classroom observations
  • Lack of interviews with students
  • Small number of participants

Implications

slide29
Implications
  • Research implications
  • A larger scale study should be adopted by including more Ts and Ss (from different levels Y2-3) at the university level
  • Included classroom observations as the data collection methods
  • Interview with both Ts and Ss
slide30

The findings of this study has provided useful information on how TBLT could be adapted and adopted in this targeted university as well as in other similar contexts.

  • The study also has filled the gap of very limited research into TBLT in Cambodian context.

Conclusion