How can Task-based Language Teaching be adapted in EFL contexts ? A case study in China


As we entered the ‘post-method’ era, a non-doctrinaire approach to the task-based method (TBLT) is increasingly supported, especially by voices from EFL contexts; it combines the context-free features of TBLT with contextual adaptations to local constraints and needs. Taking such a stance, the present case study seeks to uncover the actual teaching practice and teacher beliefs of a group of English teachers in a private secondary school in Zhejiang, China, where a communicative approach is encouraged. The study provides insights into teachers perceive and enact TBLT in local settings, and contributes to the under-developed area of classroom-based empirical studies on TBLT in mainland China.

The study used semi-structured teacher interview and classroom observation with a tailor-made observation scheme adapted from the COLT (Communicative Orientation of Language Teaching) scheme and the communicative continuum proposed by William Littlewood. The scheme collects in-depth quantitative and qualitative data with details of classroom practice. Altogether 6 participants were interviewed and 10 lessons were observed. The findings suggest a favourable environment for TBLT implementation with a certain level of autonomy in schooling (e.g., various communicative activities, maximum use of L2, school-based assessment, in-service teacher training and supplementary teaching materials). However, critical issues were also revealed by the findings, including the predominance of teacher-fronted teaching, lack of communicativeness in lower-level teaching, and most importantly teachers’ insufficient knowledge on how management of task sequences, demands and complexities influence task performance. Accordingly, the paper ends with implications and suggestions for TBLT research and practice, teacher training and assessment.

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