To Task or Not to Task: Exploring the role of tasks in Task-Based Language Teaching

Dr. Koen Van Gorp

Assistant Professor in MATESOL and Second Language Studies; Michigan State University


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

2-3pm, online via Zoom


Headshot of Koen Van Gorp
Task-based language teaching (TBLT) is sometimes seen as the latest bandwagon to jump on. Everyone talks about tasks; everyone uses tasks in their classrooms. In fact, TBLT has been an influential approach to second and foreign language education, and evidence for the impact of tasks on language learning is growing. Long (2015, 2016) states that it is probably the strongest empirically supported teaching approach.

However, looking closer at the actual teaching in second or foreign language classrooms a different picture emerges. For many instructors, TBLT is still an innovative approach that deviates from more familiar form-focused teaching methods or the omni-present Presentation-Practice-Production (PPP) paradigm. It can be hard for instructors to incorporate tasks and TBLT principles in the development of their lesson materials (Erlam, 2016) and in their teaching practices (Vandommele, Van den Branden & Van Gorp, 2018).

This talk will focus on tasks, and will address the following questions: What are tasks? Why should we use them in our classrooms? How do they guide teaching and facilitate learning? How do we focus on meaning and form during tasks? How can we assess them? Rather than jumping on the bandwagon because everyone else does it, this talk aims to provide you with the foundational principles of TBLT so you can make tasks work for you and your students.

About the Presenter:

Koen Van Gorp is an Assistant Professor in the MATESOL and Second Language Studies programs, and Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) Coordinator at the Department of Linguistics, Languages and Cultures at Michigan State University. He also serves as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Language and Education (KU Leuven, Belgium) where he worked from 1991 until 2015, and was involved in the development of task-based curricula, teacher training and research into content- and task-based language teaching in K-16 education. His research interests are task-based language teaching and assessment, language awareness and multilingual education. He is the founding Co-Editor (with Kris Van den Branden, KU Leuven) of TASK Journal on Task-Based Language Teaching and Learning, and Treasurer and Executive Board Member of the International Association for Task-Based Language Teaching (IATBLT).