Task-based language teaching: sorting out the misunderstandings


email: r.ellis@auckland.ac.nz


This paper begins by offering a definition of ‘task’ and by emphasizing that there is no single ‘task-based teaching’ approach. It then evaluates a number of criticisms of TBT, drawing on recent critiques by Widdowson, Seedhouse, Sheen, and Swan. It is argued that many of these criticisms stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of what a ‘task’ is, and of the theoretical rationales that inform task-based teaching. These criticisms also reflect a failure to acknowledge that multiple versions of task-based teaching exist. In particular, it is argued that task-based teaching need not be seen as an alternative to more traditional, form-focused approaches but can be used alongside them. The paper concludes with an examination of a number of genuine problems with implementing task-based teaching, as reflected in evaluation studies.

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