TEFL Methodologies A Look at Task- based Learning &

A Look at Task- based Learning & Communicative Language Teaching Techniques

Some of the more common methods and techniques used for teaching English as a foreign language include Grammar-translation, Audio- lingualism, Presentation, Practice and Production, Task-based Learning (TBL), Communicative Language Teaching(CLT) and the Lexical approach. As an adult learner of a foreign language, this author felt the methods of Task-based Learning and Communicative Language Teaching were the most effective for motivating students and facilitating comprehension of a foreign language. This article discusses these two methods and presents some of the common classroom techniques used by teachers embracing TBL and CLT. Methods and Techniques

Task-based learning, has largely taken the place of the Presentation, Practice and Production (PPP) method (Frost, 2006). Studies found that students of the PPP method often had difficulty remembering language learned during previous classes. When students were able to produce the language there tended to be overuse of the target language structure causing the speech to sound unnatural (Frost, 2006). With TBL, the lessons are based around the completion of a task. The language studied therefore arises out of the students needs for completing the task. Examples of tasks include taking part in a job interview, or completing a credit card application (Nunan, 2001).

Most traditional language syllabuses are designed using lists of grammatical and functional-notional lessons to be covered. On the other hand, a syllabus following the Task- based Learning methodology arises out of the results of a need analysis performed by the students ( Nunan, 2001). The goal here is to help students use language in real life situations. Other advantages of this method include its facilitation of the use of all language resources when trying to complete a task versus just practicing pre selected language structures and vocabulary. It also leads to more varied exposure to language and a more enjoyable and motivating class (Frost, 2006).

Communicative language teaching is a technique that emphasizes interaction as both the means and goal of learning a new language (Anonymous, 2006). The goal is to give students the ability to apply both the formal and the sociolinguistic aspects of language with enough proficiency to be able to communicate. The syllabus used with this methodology tries to organize the language learning curriculum along the lines of 'functions' versus grammatical structure (Anonymous, 2006). An example of a 'function' would be shopping or going to a party/concert. Like the task-based method, the goal is to get English language learners ready for the 'real world'. The classroom activities all facilitate reaching this goal, and often include fluency based activities that encourage learners to develop confidence as well as grammar and pronunciation focused activities. Research shows a common set of teaching tools and techniques used with CLT and TBL methods. Group work is used extensively by teachers following the Communicative Teaching methodology (Yunfeng, 2005) His studies showed that for ESL students it facilitated a more relaxed and cooperative classroom that in turn helped students with developing their communication skills. Interesting class activities that can be performed in groups, and that are becoming more popular in EFL classes, include students performing skits and singing. Skits help students overcome problems with pronunciation and improve confidence in speaking English with expression (Nolan, & Patterson, 2000). Students also tend to retain more language in this form (Ferrante-Fernandes, 2005). Singing is another class activity that helps combine appropriate expressions to language while being a fun way to memorize vocabulary (Church, 2006). The use of technology such as computer-assisted language learning also supports the communicative language teaching method (Lacina, 2005). Internet chat sessions and discussion boards are now being used to promote constructive language tasks in many classrooms (Lacina, 2005). The allow students to communicate in a functional and interactive method that facilitates learning.


The Task-based Learning and Communicative Language teaching methods provide teachers with techniques that motivate adult learners and help them use English outside of the classroom and in the real world. Critics may feel more emphasis should be place on grammatical structure and learning vocabulary. This may have some merit, but this author believes the discussed methods embrace the needs of students, put them at ease, and therefore leads to a greater retention of the English language which is the ultimate goal.


Anonymous (2006). Communicative Language Teaching. Retrieved September 25th, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org

Church, E.B. (September, 2006). The power of singing. Scholastic Parent and Child. Retrieved September 26th,2006 from ProQuest Database.

Ferrante-Fernandes, L (2005). Adapting narratives for skits to teach language through drama. Retrieved September 25th, 2006 from www.yale.edu

Frost, R. (2006). A task based approach. Retrieved September 25th, 2006 from www.teachingenglish.org

Lacina, J. (2005). Promoting language acquisitions: Technology and english language learners. Childhood Education. Retrieved September 26th, 2006 from ProQuest Database.

Nolan, R.E. & Patterson, R.B. ( September, 2000). Curtains, lights: Using skits to teach english to Spanish speaking adolescents and adults. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Retrieved September 26th, 2006 from ProQuest Database.

Nunan, D. (December, 2001). Aspects of task based syllabus design. Retrieved September 25th, 2006 from www.3telus.net/linguisticsissues/syllabusdesign.html

Yunfeng, Z. (July, 2005). Task Types and teacher's role: Two important factors in effective group learning. Thinking Classroom. Retrieved September 26th, 2006 from ProQuest Database.