1. Introduction Endeavoring to learn a second language can be extremely daunting and rewarding at the same time. To be able to successfully communicate in a foreign language, students must learn not only the structural formation of the language, but certain cultural nuances as well…
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Linguists have spent decades trying to determine the most effective way to enhance a person’s grammar skills, while still teaching other essential components of the language that will enable the student to comprehend and communicate with ease (Richards, 2002). The task-based method of teaching and learning grammar has long been proposed as such a language learning mechanism (Foster & Sekhan, 1999, p. 215). While not one technique is effective 100% of the time, task-based learning has shown great success in the teaching of a foreign language (Foster & Sekhan, 1999, p. 216). Taking concepts learned in class, students are expected to them perform various tasks in the language that they are learning. Long lectures and pedagogy on the finer points of grammar is not encouraged. Practice and interaction is to be the norm during task-based teaching and learning. Some may criticize this method for not taking into account grammar. Grammar may be considered more suitable to a traditional type of classroom environment, as opposed to an environment where task-based teaching is the norm. Task-based learning, however, will be shown to be a practical and useful way to get second language learners to the point of grammar mastery (Toth, 2008). This essay will begin by introducing the task-based teaching and learning method of second language acquisition, discuss its principles and relevant theory, and attempt to ascertain its effectiveness in teach grammar skills to second language students. 2. Task-Based Teaching and Learning Defined The definition of task-based learning has evolved over the course of the past three decades. There are many variations of this important teaching and learning methodology, but perhaps one should start by looking at the very meaning of the word ‘task’. A task is performed either individually or corporately, usually with some end result in mind (Lynch, 1997, p. 318). This end result could be that a reward is sought, such as a salary at the end of the month, or for self-satisfaction, as in admiring a piece of art that was just finished (Lynch, 1997, p. 318). With this definition of task, we can think of many examples. A task can be putting together a piece of furniture, picking out clothes for your children to wear to school, our cooking a family dinner. Each of these functions carries with it a goal that the individual hopes to achieve (Lynch, 1997, p. 319). Such it is with teaching and learning as well. Nunan (1989) introduces task based learning by writing, “The communicative task is a piece of classroom work which involves learners in comprehending, manipulating, or interacting in the target language while their attention is principally focused on meaning rather than form” (p. 10). In other words, for every task that an individual sets out to do, there must be an eventual finishing point or goal. The task is completed when the perceived goal is accomplished, not before. This certainly can be seen as the basis for task-based teaching and learning. An educator clearly states an objective to the class, demonstrates the task, and then the learner is expected to replicate that task. If the replication proves successful, then mastery is achieved. Early efforts at task based learning stemmed from a desire to encourage students of a foreign language to stop focusing on the language itself, and instead concern themselves with focusing their minds on a specific task related to grammar or communication. Task based learning, then, is a shift
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arning, to wit: (1) material level: that which can be seen and touched (television, digital camera, computer); (2) multipurpose software level: use of learning management systems (Blackboard, eduKate, Scholaris); (3) technological applications and tools (email,
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