SLB: Task-Based Language Teaching Course No. 3

I’m delighted to say that we already have enough participants to ensure that the third edition of our course will run. This is a shameless attempt to persuade you, dear reader, to join us.

There are different versions of TBLT, including  “task-supported” and “hybrid” versions. They all emphasise the importance of students working through communicative activities rather than the pages of a coursebook, but we think the best is Mike Long’s version, which identifies ‘target tasks’ – tasks which the students will actually have to carry out in their professional or private lives – and breaks them down into a series of ‘pedagogic tasks’which form the syllabus. In the course, we consider

  • how to identify target tasks,
  • how to break these down into pedagogic tasks,
  • how to find suitable materials, and
  • how to bring all this together using the most appropriate pedagogic procedures.

What does the course offer? 

It’s an on-line course about Mike Long’s version of TBLT, consisting of twelve, two week sessions.

In the course, we

  • explain the theory behind it;
  • describe and critique Long’s TBLT;
  • develop lighter versions for adoption in more restricted circumstances;
  • trace the steps of designing a TBLT syllabus;
  • show you how to implement and evaluate TBLT in the classroom.

We value interaction and debate. In this edition we have made changes to try to ensure that we ‘walk the talk’, by basing the course on tasks, and by making sure that the participants’ needs drive the course.

Why Do it?

Because it offers an alternative way of doing ELT whose time, we think, has come. Current economic conditions, affected by Covid 19 and its likely successors, push the move towards more local trade and commerce. This move is a powerful force which can help to dislodge the one-size-fits-all global approach to ELT. Now is the time for a new more local, tailor-made approach to ELT, where global General English courses are replaced by TBLT courses. But not just any TBLT courses. Rather, courses which start by finding out what a certain group of learners need to do in English, and then help those learners to reach their objectives by leading them through a series of sequenced pedagogic tasks designed to give them the input and practice they need to perform target tasks in the real world.

From the classroom, to the small groups of students in in-company training courses, to the single private student, TBLT offers a better alternative to the coursebook, and it offers teachers the basis for developing a portfolio. Whether you’re a teacher with a few years of experience, or a DoS, or a syllabus / materials designer, this course will help you re-tool for what lies ahead.  

The version of TBLT we explore offers a viable, not uptopian, option to coursebook-driven ELT. It respects robust findings in SLA research about how people learn an L2. It is guided by a philosophical tradition of libertarian education. It is more rewarding for all those directly concerned. Efficaciousness is our criterion: we seek a more efficacious approach to teaching, an approach which overcomes the weaknesses of coursebook-driven ELT.  Coursebooks implement a syllabus which falsely assumes that teaching about the language should take prime place. This leads to too few opportunities for students to learn for themselves by engaging in relevant communicative tasks where they learn by doing. The result is that learners don’t get the procedual knowledge they need for fluent, spontaneous use of the language. Hence, these courses are ineffacious – they don’t deliver the goods. Does Long’s TBLT result in more efficacious teaching? We believe so. We’ll argue our case, but we expect challenges from participants.

And that’s another reason to do this course. One of the best things about the two previous editions of the course was the quality of discussion among participants. We’ve had experts in special fields (e.g. air-traffic control), directors of studies, and teachers with less than 3 years experience all shooting the breeze in the discussion forums, interrogating the experts, and submitting end of module written work worthy of publication in academic journals. Neil and I defend our corner, but we’ve been persuaded to move our postion considerably as the result of persuasive arguments by participants.  Our course is not a sales pitch for Long’s TBLT – he wouldn’t want it be – it’s a platform for lively discussion about it.

When is it? 

It starts on October 16th 2020 and ends on April 15th 2021.

What are the components of the Sessions?

  • Carefully selected background reading.
  • A video presentation from the session tutor.
  • Interactive exercises to explore key concepts. 
  • An on-going forum discussion with the tutors and fellow course participants.
  • An extensive group videoconference session with the tutors. 
  • An assessed task (e.g. short essay, presentation, task analysis etc.). 

Who are the tutors?

Neil McMillan and I (both experienced teachers with Ph.Ds) do most of the tutoring, but there will also be tutorials by Roger Gilabert, Mike Long, Cathy Doughty and Glenn Fulcher, all widely-recognised experts in their fields. 

How much work is involved?

About 5 hours a week.

 The course sounds very demanding.

Well, it is quite demanding – it’s an in-depth look at a thoroughly-described syllabus. However, we’ve extended the length of the course, and we now offer different options – see “More Info.” below. Reading is non technical, the video presentations are clear, participation in on-line discussions is very relaxed, and the written component is practical and short.

Free Preview

Click here to see Why TBLT?    Use the Menu bar on the left to open “Why TBLT?”. Work your way through the unit, or just watch the presentation.   

For More Information About The Course Click Here


One thought on “SLB: Task-Based Language Teaching Course No. 3

  1. Pingback: Dipping my toe back into ELT waters – Carol Goodey

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