Edited by Virginia Samuda, Kris Van den Branden and Martin Bygate
[Task-Based Language Teaching 12] 2018
► pp. 200–212
Chapter 7. Researching TBLT for young, beginner learners in Japan
This chapter addresses a personal account of how I came to carry out research into TBLT within, and as a response to, my own teaching context. I started my career as an English teacher in a large private language institution. Due to my dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of the teaching methods at the institution, I started my own language school, where I implemented more intensive production-based teaching. However, similar problems emerged in my own school, particularly the failure to develop students’ communicative skills after years of instruction. After studying the literature on second language learning and teaching, I decided to effect a radical change in my teaching method: employing task-based language teaching (TBLT). My first attempt to use tasks with experienced students succeeded. However, to implement TBLT in a classroom with young beginning learners, I realized that I needed a more specialized approach. After reviewing the literature on tasks with absolute beginners, I decided to design input-based tasks. While the students clearly enjoyed the tasks, at that point I was still uncertain about their effectiveness, especially given the lack of immediate language production by the students. This led me to conduct experimental research investigating the effectiveness of this approach compared to the traditional one I used to use – presentation-practice-production (PPP).
The chapter starts with a brief overview of my teaching context – English education for young learners in Japan. Then, I provide a personal account of my journey as an English teacher and my attempts to conduct research in my own teaching context, notably my struggle with effective research design. My hope is that my story will provide an example of how it is possible for a teacher to conduct research to resolve classroom issues or to confirm a teaching approach in a given teaching context.