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SIG Focus: Task-Based Language Teaching SIG

Task-Based Language Teaching SIG

The Task-Based Language Teaching (TBL) SIG was formed in 2010 over beers at a barbecue during a discussion regarding the lack of an outlet and support for research into the implementation of TBLT in Japan. The purpose of the TBL SIG is to aid teachers in implementing or refining task-based teaching practices with their students.

TBLT refers, in its broadest sense, to an approach to teaching and learning which views the completion of meaningful tasks through authentic communication as an effective way to improve language proficiency. At the heart of TBL is the task. The task can take any number of forms, from simple, purposeful discussions to more complex negotiations and logical reasoning activities. Typically, a task is followed by a focus on problematic forms or vocabulary identified by the teacher during the task. Many practitioners have developed ways to steer the class’ focus toward particular pre-determined grammatical forms.

While the method has been implemented successfully in many contexts around the world, it has proven to be a challenge in teacher-fronted environments such as Japan. It can, and is being used however, by a growing number of teachers with students of all levels throughout the country. TBLT is just as effectively used in reading and writing classes as it is in oral communication classes. Despite arguments to the contrary, this approach can even be used for discrete item exam preparation.

Beginning as a forming SIG in 2010, we have quickly grown in size, and part of that growth is due to the success of our biennial conference, “TBLT in Asia”. Our second conference in 2014 featured plenary sessions with Peter Skehan, William Littlewood, Yuko Goto-Butler and Stephen Dalton. Over 150 people from more than 15 countries attended the two-day conference in Osaka, which also featured around 60 paper presentations and workshops. Our next conference will be held at Ryukoku University in Kyoto on June 25 and 26, 2016. We have confirmed Rod Ellis and Marcos Benevides as plenary speakers and a Call for Papers is now open. Information is available from our website, <http://www.tblsig.org/conference>, and the closing date for submissions is March 15, 2016. TBL SIG members receive discounted entry rates for SIG-related meetings and conferences. Each member also receives a copy of our bi-annual publication, On Task.

We are also always on the lookout for contributors of articles or lesson plans for our journal, On Task. If you would like to help out at an administrative level, either helping to run the TBLT in Asia conference or as a SIG officer, let us know! All enquiries can be sent to the SIG coordinator, Justin Harris, at <tbl@jalt.org>.

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