By Arfiyan Ridwan (IAIN Sunan Ampel Surabaya, (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This paper offers different reading activities within Task-Based Teaching in which learners are engaged in real world context to learn the second language. Prediction task as a form of creative task in Task-Based Teaching can effectively provide more opportunities for learners not only to learn reading in one lesson, but also other macro skills in the integrated skills teaching. In the circle of Communicative Teaching, Task-Based Teaching emphasizes how the language is used instead of learning the language.
Keyword: Task-Based Teaching
Students’ failure in producing foreign language in spoken context is commonly found in EFL classes. Many students could be good at the written language context, however, not too good at the spoken context. The context of natural setting of the language they produce becomes a factor of how they productively use their language orally. Lightbown and Spada (1999:91) suggests that natural acquisition contexts ought to be understood as things in which the learner is brought into the language at work or involving social interaction. Interaction among the students using the target language rather than their mother tongue is considered more effective in learning the second language. Learners will feel free to use the language in the natural acquisition context despite their mistakes. This ‘freedom’ leads to the success to achieve the learning goals in the target language through their own interaction among others. On this classroom learning scheme, the teacher will find out that communicative interaction encourages students’ capacity on spoken language.
The concept of gaining natural acquisition context on second language can be applied through task-based teaching (TBT) by involving the learners through a number of tasks either can be done in or outside the classroom. In training the students how to use the language, TBT emphasizes on using the language, not learning the language itself. Lightbown and Spada (1999:92) add that interaction and conversation is implemented on TBT. Learners are brought into the real life situation so that they are able to use the language naturally. TBT also becomes ‘a tool’ of making the students to produce language in full-two-way communication, providing the role of the learners to act as the recipient and sender of verbal communicative message (Dulay, Burt, and Krashen, 1982:21). To accomplish the interaction, students are assigned within a number of task choices inviting them to say their opinions to the topic given. It feels like they are free to share their ideas and, at times, to a certain task, they become the expert of certain thing about the topic. Many agree that through those assignments, students learn the language more effectively.
The number of tasks given in TBT can be either boring or interesting for students depending on how the teacher designs the task sequences and topic. Making the students excited to the task needs teacher’s creativity how to bring the topic from the syllabus to the creative task. To assign the students to participate very effectively in the spoken language can be carried out through the many creative tasks or projects. Prediction task is one of the examples to do on task based teaching in which students are involved into prediction activity on reading. As the reflection of prediction on reading activity, prediction tasks very effectively make students to speculate based on their own opinion on the problem.
TBT AND COMMUNICATIVE APPROACH
Task-based teaching can be said as the most effective instruction in the communicative approach framework. Teachers who do this instruction believe that through a completion of tasks, students will learn the language just like when they focusing on the language forms (Harmer:71). It denies a point of view that task based teaching only focuses merely on the language use. In fact, many experts conduct this instruction by initiating through teaching grammatical forms. Willis and Willis (2007:02) comment to prevent a misleading mindset that task based teaching does not accept the importance of grammar. Nowadays, many methodologies have begun TBT with form focus activity in which the learners learn the language forms at first, then goes on with communicative activities. Due to the effectiveness of encouraging learners to produce the target language in natural context through the tasks TBT is worth being called as the core of communicative approach. Harmer (2007:69) relates communicative approach with the tasks students involved in. the tasks teachers assigns leads to the language students use. If they are working on the meaning focused communicative tasks, the language learning process will take care of itself.
INTEGRATION OF FOUR MACRO SKILLS
The idea of integrating four macro skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) can really possible to do in one day lesson. Before the post method era, form-focused teaching limits the role of the teachers to develop student’s macro skills. Language skills were apparently taught in separate time and lesson. Besides that, the focus on forms makes the students hard to produce the language in the natural acquisition context. In the concept of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) the idea of integrating four macro skills attempts to how the language is used rather than how to study the language. However, it does not mean that the teacher applying the skills integration diminish the specific importance of each skill. Brown (2007:285) rebuts the rumor that the importance of each skill will be diminished. He strongly argues that the integration surely has strong, principled approach to the separate, unique characteristics of every skill.
Engaging students in real world context in Task-Based Teaching through such creative tasks enables them to produce more language. Prediction task in one reading lesson actually can be modified into the use of four macro skills by bringing them to the context of natural language with the condition of authentic materials and true story. Students are not forced within only one performance in one skill. To develop their four macro skills, they need to be given a chance to accommodate their efforts in more meaningful task (Brown, 2007:285). Although the syllabus mentions the today’s lesson is reading, they are given a great chance by the teacher to develop their skills through the creative task stimulating them to take part in the classroom.
PREDICTION STRATEGY ON READING
Recent researches have proved the power of prior knowledge to the student’s ability to predict as sub-skill of reading. A research reported by Hudson (2007:144) explains the correlation between prior knowledge and students’ recall of the amount of information about the text. The background knowledge students have assists the ability of how they comprehend the text later in the phase of either pre or whilst reading. As metacognitive strategy, prediction can be generated through this construction of prior reading to make the students become independent and efficient readers. Eidswick (2010:151) believes that the students efficiently read the text when they have very good background knowledge of the topic of the text rather than their strong reading ability. On the other hand, without enough background knowledge of certain cultures of the topic of the text students gain a bit difficulty in comprehending the text. The role of the teacher in activating what is ‘known’ or giving introduction what is ‘unknown’ really helps them.
Speculation is a part of prediction. However, what I mean in this word is triggering the students to give their own opinion of what something probably had happened. To make students speculate the story, there must be a creative task designed to encourage them give their own opinion. In Task-Based Teaching, speculation can properly be applied in narrative text in which the students are free to give their own version of story before being given the real story. Speculation can be assisted through the role of pictures and cues about the text before being distributed to the students. On this pre-task step, having introduced the prior knowledge, the students are brought into the first task, i.e. to speculate what might happen in the story based on the cues of keywords and pictures provided.
A creative task example is taken from www.voanews.com about a tragedy of Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. The first step is to provide the students a big picture about some workers in Fukushima wearing suit of anti-radiation. To increase the sense of curiosity, beneath the picture, there must be some helpful keywords related to the real news which will be distributed later. The keywords might be Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant, earthquake and tsunami, 30 years, 20,000 people dead or missing, damaged reactors, 20-kilometer zone, 10 years, and leak. Through the favor of the picture and some helpful keywords, students are likely to give many speculations what had happened at that time.
Task-based teaching is primarily based on both meaning-focused teaching and grammar-based teaching. To make the students focus on the target language depends on the stages. Willis cited in Harmer (2007:71) suggest a set of stages to initiate task-based teaching in which there are three important stages to do: (1) pre-task, the students are introduced to the topic and the task. (2) Task cycle, the teacher begins to plan the task, and prepare the students for their report. (3) Language focus, the teacher and the students analyze the work has been presented and discuss the specific language features. The three-step process then can be modified within a creative one to adjust the learning objectives. To initiate prediction task in Task-Based Teaching, here is a suggested steps I adapt from Willis and Willis (2007:34-40).
(1) Obtain some interesting news from newspaper article or other applicable sources. This is a first step in which we must be very selective on choosing the appropriate ‘raw’ material to adjust the syllabus in our curriculum. A number of media sources are worth trying such as from www.voanews.com, the Jakarta Post, or daily news from www.thejakartapost.com . However, remember one thing that text selection can be difficult or not to apply in our lesson. The background schemata of the students become a consideration in selecting the text, whether or not the text topic appears appealing.
(2) Begin priming for the prediction. Provide a speculative prediction about the news topic prior to giving the text. The power of pictures can assist us in building students’ understanding the context of the text. Provide an appealing picture related to the news topic and let them speculate. To make them speculate with a creative opinion, they need to be assisted by such creative picture. Insert a statement about the picture to build the students’ curiosity what had happened. For instance, …
(3) Clues need to be given below the picture to assist the students speculate and make a narrative text about the news topic. Too many teacher’s assist can be bad for students since they have no great challenges, however, when they are given too little help, they are likely to get difficulty in arguing or making a prediction about the topic. So, the best way is that they are given enough and effective clues as the keys in making prediction.
(4) Let the students prepare for their report or presentation in groups which have been formed. On this preparation stage, they discuss with their members to narrate the story based on what they speculate from the beginning and the clues provided by the teacher. There must be a responsible student or leader to tell their own version to the class.
(5) Report the result. After a well-prepared report has been done, they begin to present the story to the class and they compare with other groups’ to find out the differences idea among groups.
(6) Do a reading session. Students’ speculation about the text is then compared to the real version of the story. Without decreasing the point of each groups’ speculation, the teacher attempts to provide an alternate version of the story.
(7) Now, it is time for the students to focus on grammar. The goal of Task-Based Teaching is not always on meaning focused teaching, but also on form focus teaching. In this stage, the teacher should give a number of feedbacks to the learners’ language during the presentation. Recast is considered effective feedback in this group discussion in which the teacher repeats the students’ utterance, using the correct structure of which the learner makes error, but without paying attention to the error and maintaining the focus on meaning (Lightbown and Spada (2001:107). Mackey and Philp (1998) cited in Lightbown and Spada (2001:127) have conducted a study about an observation of a classroom applying ‘say what you mean and mean what you say’ as the second teaching proposal. It is resulted that learners who were at more advanced stages question development (in group discussion) benefited more from interaction with recasts than they did from interaction without recasts.
The framework of Task-Based Teaching is that meaning is primary which brings an essential concept of experiential learning (Nunan, 2004:12) in which the learners are brought into natural acquisition context to use the language despite the inaccurate grammar. Traditional examinations exist are mostly based on grammar accuracy rather than how to use the language. Task-Based Teaching, however, still can be used to prepare the students for exams if the exams are performance-based assessment. Puppin (2007:10) argues that many teachers mismatch assessment with CLT approach. In Brazil for instance, he found teachers apply traditional paper-pencil test with CLT approach. To deal with it, he suggests performance-based test as the best way in assessing students taught through Task-Based instruction as the core of Communicative Approach. Integrates skills teaching implemented in Task-Based instruction needs a proper assessment to really measure student’s performance in the classroom just like what Puppin (2007:11) exemplifies the new performance-based test: oral performance, listening task, writing task, and integrated skills task. Furthermore, performance-based tasks offer more straightforward measures of student abilities than multiple-choice items in the traditional paper-pencil test (Lai, 2011:1).
To achieve communicative goals in the teaching second language reading, teachers can implement the so-called Task-Based Teaching. As the core of Communicative Approach, Task Based Teaching takes role in providing natural language acquisition context by involving learners to perform actively in the classroom through the integrated skills teaching. By teaching interactively with four macro skills in one day lesson, learners are likely showing their performance. To achieve this goal, teacher must create a creative task designed to stimulate them to produce the language. On the teaching of second language reading, prediction task can be a great choice to implement.
Brown, HD. 2007 Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. New York: Pearson Education, Ltd.
Dulay, H., Burt, M., and Krashen, S.1982. Language Two. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Puppin, L. 2007. A Paradigm Shift: From Paper-and-Pencil Tests to Performance-Based Assessment. English Teaching Forum. Vol. 45(4). Pp. 10-17.
Hudson, T. 2007. Teaching Second Language Reading. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Harmer, J. 2007. The Practice of English Language Teaching, Fourth Edition. China: Pearson Education Ltd.
Lai, ER. 2011. Performance-based Assessment: Some New Thoughts on an Old Idea. Always Learning Bulletin. Vol. 20. Pp. 1-4.
Eidswick, J. 2010. Interest and Prior Knowledge in Second Language Reading Comprehension. JALT Journal. Vol. 32 (2). Pp. 149-168.
Nunan, D. 2004. Task-Based Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Name : Arfiyan Ridwan, S.Pd.
Sex : Male
Permanent address : Jl. KH. Moh. Toha I/76 Bangkalan
Date of birth : 23 / 07 / 1988
Place of birth : Bangkalan, Madura
Religion : Islam
Marital status : Single
Phone : (031) 3099289
Mobile phone : 085732571505
Email : email@example.com
2010-present Graduate Program
Islamic University of Malang (aka. UNISMA)
Majoring English education
2006-2010 Undergraduate Program
State University of Surabaya (aka. UNESA)
Majoring English education
2003-2006 Senior High School (SMA)
SMAN 1 Bangkalan
2000-2003 Junior High School (SMP)
SMPN 1 Bangkalan
1994-2000 Elementary school (SD)
SDN Kemayoran 2 Bangkalan
|Period||Work place||Position||Duties and Responsibilities|
|September 2010 – now||IAIN Sunan Ampel Surabaya, The Faculty of Tarbiyah|
|Teaching intensive English program in the faculty of Tarbiyah, teaching TOEFL Preparation program.|
|November 2010 – now||Auliya-Edumandiri English Language Training Course Bangkalan|
|Teaching English for various class levels, managing the curriculum of the course|
|August 2010 – July 2010||MA Al-Hidayah Bangkalan|
|Teaching English for the tenth grade students|
|October 2008 – January 2009||Appletree School of Business Surabaya|
|Teaching English for students in several levels|