Widgets Inc.: Teach Outside the Box
[2019 12/09] Widgets co-author Marcos Benevides will be leading an iTDi Advanced Skills Course for teachers who are interested in developing their expertise in task-based language teaching. The course will be held during four consecutive Sundays in March 2020: March 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd, from 13:00 to 14:00 GMT.
This course aims to clarify the definition of tasks, to outline the major principles of the approach, and to demonstrate how to select, sequence, and assess meaningful tasks by using authentic examples from the classroom. We will focus on the practical aspects of instruction, assessment, and syllabus design, and participants will leave with a clear and practical understanding of the approach.
[2019 06/13] At a ceremony overlooking the river Thames in London on June 10th, 2019, Widgets Inc. edged out four other worthy finalists to be awarded the 2019 British Council ELTon for Course Innovation, the most prestigious coursebook award in the industry.
It was an outstanding achievement, given the impressive competition. Among the final five was On Task (Tokyo: Abax ELT Press) by Justin Harris and Paul Leeming, another excellent task-based book produced in Japan. The Widgets team was already absolutely thrilled to be nominated, but to receive the top prize as well was an unexpected honour.
Thank you to all of the incredible staff at the British Council who produced an extremely high quality event, and to the host, poet Benjamin Zephariah. The evening was also made memorable by the presence of author Michael Rosen, who introduced famed linguist David Crystal for a lifetime achievement award.
ABOUT WIDGETS INC.
Widgets Inc. is a business themed English communication course using a task-based approach to language learning. It is designed for classes of 12 to 40 young adult or older students who are placed into teams and must complete a series of connected projects.
Students simulate being interns at a startup company called Widgets Inc., where they brainstorm product ideas, pitch their ideas, perform market research, design ad campaigns, participate in a job interview, and more.
Widgets Inc.: A task-based course in workplace English (120 pp., A4 paperback) is available from the following distributors: englishbooks.jp . It is published by Atama-ii Books (2018) and was written by Marcos Benevides and Chris Valvona. ISBN: 9781941140000
Widgets is great for mixed-ability classes from pre-intermediate to high-intermediate.
- CEFR B1 and above: students are engaged and challenged at their own level of achievement even while working together in mixed-level teams. Task situations provide useful language and excellent incidental practice for TOEIC speaking and writing components.
- Integrated skill development: students develop fluency and confidence in speaking, listening, reading, and writing via discussions, presentations, self and team evaluations, report writing, viewing video instructions, and many more highly-contextualized tasks.
- Meaningful assessment: students are assessed primarily by task outcome in accordance with Communicative Language Teaching and TBLT principles; a secondary focus on the use of language forms is also possible.
Widgets is arranged by task complexity, not language complexity.
The course starts with easy tasks, and quickly builds to more complex projects. This puts the focus and the challenge of the course on the practical use of English, rather than on passing language tests. It also encourages students to develop fluency and confidence in using English in ‘real world’ situations.
The Widgets project sequence, in order of increasing task complexity:
- Stage 1 Interns join the company orientation
- Stage 2 Teams prepare and pitch new product proposals
- Stage 3 Teams discuss and evaluate new product proposals
- Stage 4 Teams perform market research on the selected product
- Stage 5 Teams plan and present a multimedia advertising campaign
- Stage 6 Interns prepare a resume and cover letter, and interview for a job
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