Applied Linguistics

What is task-based learning/types/activities/principles/roles

Task-based learning

Task-Based Learning is an approach that uses tasks such as planning and instruction of language teaching. This approach originated in the late 80s and takes into account some principles of the communicative movement, for example, the activities that intervene in real communication are essential for learning languages, etc. Two early applications of Task Learning were in the Malay Communication program (1975) and the Bangalore Project (Beretta and Davies, 1985; Prabhu, 1987; Beretta 1990). What is task-based learning?

Some key ideas of Task-Based Learning according to Feez (1998) are: priority is given to the project instead of the product, activities, and tasks with meaning are basic elements that emphasize communication and meaning, students can learn the language While doing interactive communicative activities, the tasks are those that they may have to perform in real life and the difficulty of a task depends on various factors such as the student’s previous experience or the complexity of the task, etc.

The role of the teacher speaking in the target language on the other hand is to select, adapt or create the tasks themselves and then order them in an instructional sequence that is in harmony with the needs, interests, and level of language skills of the student. Also, the teacher must do pre-tasks to prepare students before they do the task.

The role of students is to work in pairs or groups, they must realize how language is used in communication, the students themselves have to attend not only to the message of the work that is carried out in the task but also in the form messages are usually presented and also they must be willing to take risks and be innovative.


  • Homework is proposed as a basic component of planning second language teaching programs.
  • A task is understood as an activity, an objective that is carried out using the language. Their basic priority is meaning. Their success is evaluated in the achievement of a result and generally resembles the use of the language in real life.
  • Language is a means of creating meaning. Task-based instruction (IBT) is not concerned with the demonstration of language.
  •  It is based on structural, functional, and interactive language models.
  • Lexical units are essential in the use and learning of the language. Vocabulary plays an essential role. This refers to lexical phrases, sentence roots, pre-made routines, and distributions, not just words.
  • Conversation is the fundamental priority of the language and the cornerstone of its acquisition, which is why conversation is involved in most tasks. It is considered that the basis of acquisition is communication through the spoken language that occurs based on the linguistic and communicative resources available to the student. What is task-based learning?

Task types What is task-based learning?

Communication or communicative tasks

which are those that aim to provoke the student’s speech, both in written and oral form. These tasks reveal the communicative competence of the student and the strategies developed in the process of learning the target language. The characteristics of this typology of tasks are:

  •  are focused on meaning rather than form.
  •  involve all students in oral and written comprehension and production.
  •  they tend to reproduce real processes of oral and written communication.
  • have language learning objectives, a structure, and a sequencing tending to facilitate the process.
  • They must be able to be evaluated both in their instrumental value (a communicative aspect of the language) and in their procedural aspect (instrument of the learning process).

Enabling tasks

called in various ways, although their meaning is precisely to differentiate themselves from the communicative ones. They focus on the formal or linguistic aspect of the learning process of a Foreign Language in Language Teaching through Homework. Its function is to support communication tasks. This typology of tasks gives the student the formal resources that will allow him to carry out the communicative tasks. Enabling Tasks have:

  •  concrete learning objectives (learn the grammatical form to establish communication).
  • clear working procedure.
  • a specific and well-defined learning product.

The learning principles What is task-based learning?

  • The tasks provide the input and output processing necessary for the acquisition of the language since they promote processes of negotiation of meaning, modification, reformulation, interaction, and experimentation in the second language.
  • The execution of tasks and the use are motivational
  • The learning difficulty can be negotiated and fine-tuned for specific pedagogical purposes. Tasks can be designed to facilitate the use and learning of specific aspects of the language. When a task is very demanding on a cognitive level, it can happen that attention in formal aspects is minimized, and that fluency develops at the cost of precision. However, tasks can be structured so that the above maintains a balance. What is task-based learning?

Student role

The student must be able to work in groups to negotiate meanings and attend not only to the message of the work carried out on the task but also to the way in which these messages are usually presented. This approach requires the interpretation and creation of messages without even having sufficient linguistic knowledge or related experience, therefore the student must be risky and innovative.

Teacher role What is task-based learning?

In this approach, the teacher is responsible for:
Select the tasks and define their order. They can be creations or adaptations of existing material. It is recommended that assignments be authentic and supported by authentic materials as much as possible.
Prepare students for tasks. While it is true that the student must be proactive, creative, and innovative, the teacher must give him prior preparation to carry out the tasks. This can occur through instructions, impart expressions and vocabulary, present a topic and provide partial demonstrations of the procedures involved in carrying out the task. What is task-based learning?
Raise awareness. This refers to the aforementioned as “attention to form”, which implies that the student detects the linguistic elements and their correct use in the input they receive. The teacher can use techniques such as using materials with highlighted elements for example.

Presence of grammar

Grammar is implicit in the use to carry out different tasks. It is also induced from the messages that the student receives as input and on the understanding of which they must work. This approach gives more importance to the project than to the product, so the grammar will be part of the resources for the development of the student in a certain task. Complementarily, the teacher can emphasize linguistic and grammatical elements and present them to the class based on the didactic material selected to structure the tasks. However, as it is a communicative approach, there is no systematic grammar program.

ACTIVITIES – TASK APPROACH What is task-based learning?

Theme: Tico Album

Level: B2

General objective:

  • Activate knowledge, feelings, and emotions of the time in Costa Rica.

 Specific objectives:

  • Describe images corresponding to people, places, experiences, meals …
  • Apply the grammatical knowledge acquired throughout the class.

 Activity: Make an album based on your experiences in Costa Rica. Consider for its preparation, the following aspects of form and content: What is task-based learning?

  1. Give the album a name.
  2. Divide it into five sessions or sections, according to the following topics (respect the order of these):
  • Topic # 1: My Costa Rican family (each of its members: physical and emotional descriptions).
  • Topic # 2: Typical Costa Rican meals (for the three meal times)
  • Topic # 3: Tourist destinations in Costa Rica (minimum five)
  • Theme # 4: End of the year celebrations (activities, customs, meals …)
  • Topic # 5: Costa Rican expressions and sayings (minimum 20)
  1. Add images and (or) photographs to each section
  2. Write a caption for each image or photograph.
  3. You can present it handmade or digitally (be very creative with your presentation).
  4. Do not forget to deliver the different advances, according to the dates indicated in the class schedule.
  5. Follow all the items that appear in the evaluation table.
  6. Expose your album on the appointed date.

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