Introduction and overview
In this chapter, the definition of task laid out in Chapter 1 is elaborated on, and the task framework introduced in Chapter 2 is looked at from a slightly different perspective. What I would like to do in this chapter is to explore the elements that make up a task. These are task goals, input data and learner procedures, and they are supported by teacher and learner roles and the settings in which tasks are undertaken.
Three early conceptualizations of task components are useful here. These are Shavelson and Stern (1981), Candlin (1987) and Wright (1987a).
Shavelson and Stern (1981) articulated their concept of task-based language teaching within the context of education in general, rather than TESOL in particular. Task designers, they suggest, should take into consideration the following elements:
Content: the subject matter to be taught.
Materials: the things that learners can observe/manipulate.
Activities: the things that learners and teachers will be doing during a lesson.
Goals: the teachers' general aims for the task (these are much more general and vague than objectives).
Students: their abilities, needs and interests are important.
Social community: the class as a whole and its sense of ‘groupness’.
(Shavelson and Stern 1981: 478)
Candlin (1987), whose work was specifically referenced against language pedagogy, has a similar list. He suggests that tasks should contain input, roles, settings, actions, monitoring, outcomes and feedback. Input refers to the data presented for learners to work on. Roles specify the relationship between participants in a task.