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There’s more than one way to skin a cat and the same is true when it comes to learning a language.  When I’m trying to learn a language, I try to mix it up to keep it interesting.  I use gamified apps to memorise vocabulary and phrases, listen to stuff and, of course, try to speak (you’d be amazed at how many people don’t do this!!!).

So why the focus on Task Based Learning (TBL) at Red Brick and what is it?  Well, TBL is an approach to language learning which revolves around students completing a task.  If a task is well-designed, students will have to communicate and collaborate in a meaningful way.  The aim is to finish the task, not to use any specific language, although teachers may design a task with specific structures in mind.  For example, when completing a task about childhood holidays students will probably need to use the structure ‘used to’.

In TBL the teacher pays close attention to the students’ language as they complete the task.  Once the students have done the task and reported back on the process and outcome, the teacher provides opportunities for students to ‘notice’ and practice useful language.

TBL is a ‘communicative’ approach to language learning which promotes, yes, you guessed it – communication!.  Today with the proliferation of apps, e-learning and free grammar or vocabulary exercises on the internet we feel it makes no sense to get students to do these types of things in our lessons.  It’s a waste of your time and money!  You pay for the expertise of the teacher and the opportunity to communicate, so this is what we offer you.

TBL has lots of benefits (see our infographic below) but there are also some valid criticisms; such as learners are only practising language they already know, or it can be frustrating for students to learn about the language after the task instead of before it.

This is why at Red Brick we combine our TBL courses with the Flipped Classroom so you get opportunities to notice, learn and/or practice some of the language you’ll need before completing a task.  We also give you opportunities to repeat tasks, this might be the same task with a different partner/group, with no or less preparation time, or a variation on the task.

TBL is becoming more and more popular because it offers students genuine opportunities to communicate in English.  It has also proven to be popular with students who find the lessons both enjoyable and rewarding.  Because of this, students are generally more motivated in TBL classes (ELT Concourse) and this in turn leads to better learning outcomes.  And this, my friends, makes teachers happy.

Check out the infographic below to see some of the benefits of TBL

Vocabulary you may need some help with:

  • there’s more than one way to skin a catthere’s more than one method to reach the same goal
    • They finally realised there was more than one way to skin a cat, they  just had to figure which was the fastest.
    • It just shows there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
  • try to mix it uptry to add variety
    • You can also mix it up and enjoy moderate some days and vigorous other days, if you wish.
    • You can also mix it up and enjoy moderate some days and vigorous other days, if you wish.
  • gamified apps an app which makes an activity, such as learning a language, more like a game in order to make it more interesting or enjoyable
    • In addition to these, the app takes the gamified approach to keep users motivated.
    • In 2011, Bunchball partnered up with the Los Angeles Kings to gamify their fan website.
  • revolves around – to have someone or something as the main or most important interest or subject
    • His whole life revolves around his job.
    • There was an episode recently revolving around her trip to Israel.
  • designed with specific structures in mindto have a plan or intention
    • Do you have anything in mind for her birthday?
    • That’s not the kind of publicity Jeff Bezos had in mind when he flew into space.
  • pay close attention to – watch, listen to, or think about something carefully
    • People are now just beginning to pay close attention to the election.
    • Pay close attention to this report, it has some interesting insights into the current situation.
  • the proliferation of – a situation where there has been a sudden increase the number or amount of something
    • The proliferation of plastic in our seas is a major concern for environmentalists.
    • It threatens our efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • makes no sense to – not clear or easy to understand
    • She thinks the current approach to marijuana makes no sense.
    • It makes no sense to spend more than we need to.
  • infographic – a picture or a diagram or a group of pictures or diagrams showing or explaining information.
    • As this infographic shows, spending on education has actually decreased in real terms.
    • They have released an infographic detailing some of their findings. 
  • genuinereal, exactly what it appears to be
    • I think there is a genuine fear that the situation is only going to get worse.
    • She made a genuine mistake.
  • proven to be popular – evidence shows something is popular
    • Squid Games has proven to be popular internationally.
    • The government’s policies have proven to be unpopular among younger voters.

Further reading

Featured Image: “WebRTC conversations” by Tsahi Levent-Levi is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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