Task-Based Language Teaching
Task-based language teaching (TBLT) is a communicative approach to language instruction which focuses on the successful completion of “tasks” as its primary goal.
Tasks are defined as:
• corresponding to a real-world activity; and • having a clear non-linguistic outcome; and • allowing for an authentic, meaningful use of language.
Examples of tasks include Write a thank-you letter, Order a pizza, Listen to a lecture, Read a news article, and Make a paper airplane. Each of these corresponds to something that is done in the real world. Most happen to include a linguistic component, but note that it is not the outcome. For instance, having spoken English is not the point of ordering a pizza; getting pizza is the point of ordering a pizza. Finally, each of these is meaning-focused and relatively unrestricted as to which language forms can be used. For example, a thank-you letter could contain a number of grammar mistakes, and could even avoid using the past tense entirely, and still be received as an appropriate thank-you letter.
This brings us to another crucial aspect of TBLT tasks, which is that they must be assessed primarily according to their outcome. Whether a learner can order a pizza appropriately should be measured first by whether that pizza has—or, in a classroom situation, would have—arrived. not by whether the learner has used certain target language items such as “Could I have” or “That will be”.
To put it the other way, grammar worksheets, vocabulary tests, scripted dialogs, etc. are never tasks in the TBLT sense of the word. They may be useful components of instruction, but they are decidedly NOT “real-world” activities, they have no intended outcome besides language practice, and they strongly favor accuracy over meaning.
In short, a task-based approach organizes lessons in such a way that learners will focus on getting something done while using the language, rather than on the explicit practice of language forms, as in more traditional methods of instruction.