Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is an approach to second language teaching that emphasises language as primarily a tool for communication. The importance of CLT is now widely recognised and research validated. However, in many Asian contexts the perception of communicative proficiency remains that it is impractical to target and to assess in the classroom. Task-based language teaching (TBLT), a refinement of CLT principles that introduces the "task" as a unit of instruction, can solve this problem.
In TBLT, communicative tasks are defined as pedagogical constructs that have meaningful, real-world-like outcomes; for example: Write a thank you letter or Fill out a job application. Tasks can be described according to clear features and parameters, they can be sequenced in a syllabus according to relative complexity, and they can be assessed in a valid and reliable manner by focusing on outcomes. In these ways, tasks provide a systematic and practical way to implement communicative lessons, solving many of the major concerns regarding CLT.
Nevertheless, TBLT remains little-used in many instructional contexts due to a scarcity of easy-to-use teaching materials and assessment tools. In particular, there remains a lack of options for task-based assessments that are practical in the classroom. In order for TBLT to be more widely accepted and implemented, assessment tools are needed that are not only valid and reliable, but also easy to use by classroom teachers of varied experience.
This talk will introduce a new task-based assessment tool designed for the classroom. If successful, this has the potential to both inform and transform communicative language teaching in Asian contexts and beyond.
Marcos Benevides is a teacher, researcher, and multiple award-winning author/editor of English language teaching materials. His latest work, a second edition of task-based coursebook Widgets Inc., was recently awarded the 2018 British Council ELTon for Course Innovation. The first edition of Widgets (2008) has been widely credited as the first internationally successful task-based course. His other notable works include Fiction in Action: Whodunit (2011 ELTon and 2010 ESU Award) and the Atama-ii multi-path series (two 2015 and one 2016 Extensive Reading Foundation awards). Marcos is the president of Atama-ii Books and an Assistant Professor and English Language Program Coordinator at J. F. Oberlin University. His research interests include task-based language teaching, particularly course design and assessment, and extensive reading. Marcos lives in Tokyo with his family.