How to plan a Task Based Lesson for English as a Second Language (ESL)
Nov 6, 2013 English as a Second Language (ESL) 5966 Views
Okay, so you have read about Task Based Learning and you have been swayed at least enough to give it a go? Next step is planning your first TBL lesson and funnily enough, that's what's on the menu today!
Planning your lesson:
Okay, so before we get into the nitty gritty, it's important to understand that we are still after the same outcomes as with traditional teaching (PPP), so there is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. We're not starting from scratch here.
What we are trying to do is move away from the traditional style of repetitive learning, which is not as useful for language learning, and move towards a style of learning where the students have to interact with each other, using the English that they have, in order to complete the task.
In running a class this way, you may have to deal with a couple of new things that you aren't used to.
That said, let's get in there and plan the lesson!
Step 1: Start mashing.
Traditionally, using PPP you'll operate in a linear way, teaching your students to speak English one phrase at a time, slowly increasing structure as you go.
The aim of TBL is to get the student to solve a problem by using the English that they've got plus some that they don't have.
Once they recognise the need that they have, you can step in and start feeding the information, drip by drip, so that they have enough to work with to solve the problem themselves.
note: make sure that you sit same language students separately where possible, so that they are forced to use English to communicate with each other to solve the problem.
To do this you need to do more than just grab some greetings. You need to make it a little more complex.
If I was doing a first lesson, I would mash greetings, occupations, origins, questions, and maybe imperatives straight away, and use them over a few lessons.
It may seem like you're over doing it, but actually you're moving very close to the "immersion" style of learning that mimics how children learn their native tongue.
Step 2: Create the task.
Okay, now you want to come up with a task. It needs to be fun, engaging, and not too easy.
An example for early learners might be for a chance encounter on the street.
Your students have to create a conversation where they greet each other, ask how their day has been, commiserate with them if it's been bad, or congratulate them if it's been good, find out where they are from, get their phone number, thank them for their time, and then say goodbye.
Then, each member of the group has to stand up and have a conversation with another student who is from a different group, so they can't just memorize.. they have to actually understand what is going on!
For a beginner student that's a lot to take in, and will really strain their brains.
But take a look at what they've learned. They've had to deal with numbers, questioning, greeting, where they are from, use a little bit of past tense, congratulate or commiserate each other and more!
Also, they have been forced to learn how to "listen" in English, and that is a huge skill to learn.
Now you might say "how do I communicate all this stuff to my students?" and you're best off using images that illustrate what you're after, and then helping the students as they get obviously stuck.
Step 3: Run the class!
That's it. It really is that simple. Just remember that when you're running the class, to make sure that you pull back a little bit and let the students stumble and fail, and eventually figure out the answer themselves.
You'll get a lot more engagement that way.
I share information about this and many other topics in my English teaching blog. I also make an effort to post useful English language teaching resources for fellow teachers to use with their classes.
In my blog I post about my experience as a teacher as well as activities, worksheets and resources that you can download and use with your students.