#Keltchat Summary for 25/11/12 – Task-based Learning in Korea

This summary was written by @johnpfordresher, whose own excellent blog stylings can be found at http://observingtheclass.wordpress.com

Another Keltchat has come and gone, and once again a lively debate helped the collective better understand Tasked Based Learning (TBL). A quick roll call was conducted and then on to the TBL goodness.

@breathyvowel moderated the event masterfully and began by asking participants who had tried TBL and how strong a form of TBL they usually use.

  • @johnpfordresher admitted to weakly attempting it a few times.
  • @hallg has used medium strength TBL with her int/high university level “comm skill” courses and is eager to try more after the positive responses she has received from her students.
  • @GemL1 has tried to strictly stick to the tenets of TBL a few times, and loosely applied them at others.
  • @ChopEDU told the group that he first began using TBL tasks before he knew they were TBL tasks.
  • @michaelgriffin has done them strongly numerous times and received mixed feedback from his students, however the final results of his TBL tasks were “fabulous”.
  • @SophiaKhan has used them but with less structure than others
  • @yitzha_sarwono has only used TBL slightly over the years.

Asking about what negative feedback students have given teachers regarding TBL Michael Griffin reported, “We [students] don’t know what we are **LEARNing.” And not enough teacher support.

With that came the end of the first part of our discussion and our moderator moved onto asking why TBL is “not so big here in Korea?’

  • @hallg probably b/c test-taking is such a strong focus?
  • @michaelgriffin chimed in whit his typical humor “I wonder…I just don’t know it could be… umm maybe.. well I think mm what about GRAMMAR… (yeah that’s it)”
  • @sophiakhan Yes, can be scary for both T & students – less control/predictability. Students may not understand the validity
  • @GemL1 because they like to focus on grammar and prefer / r used to approaches like PPP. And teacher centered classes are more popular here.
  • @chopEDU wondered if traditional/cultural views of student/teacher roles in Korea inhibit the acceptance of TBL?
  • @michaelgriffin speculated TBL might be an approach used more if teachers were very explicit and showed students TBL was a “thing” and not made up. More to buy into
  • @sophiakhan so maybe in Korea the face validity is a big thing (showing that it is a researched and established approach)
  • @Seouldaddy notes that task based instruction is taught in teacher prep but reality sets in when they get a job

Our moderator @breathyvowel then adroitly moved the discussion forward with the following question. So my thinking is that students passive knowledge could be activated by TBL, no? Everyone readily agreed. Mr. Moderator then asked us what positives could come from utilizing a TBL approach in our classes here in Korea.

  • @hallg breath of fresh air for Ss tired of stale class life?
  • @keisenhow accomplishing a task brings confidence
  • @gemL1 gives Ss the opportunity to b creative both with language and in other ways, welcome break from normal approach
  • @michaelgriffin redresses the (un)balance that we have been talking about
  • @chopEDU TBL enables Ss to use language in meaningful ways

(On a side note @johnpfordresher asked what exactly a “task” entailed.

  • @Rhettteacher Agreed! Esp with #youngesllearners Give me a pencil task or activity?
  • @hallg basically: goal-oriented, adaptive, authentic, meaningful, etc. activity
  • @sophiakhan This is a v. imp Q. For me a ‘task’ is not just an activity. Must be real life purpose & entail a range of lang
  • @hallg – agreed!! real-life purpose esp….I always tried to tell/show my Ss how tasks reflected ‘real life’
  • @chopEDU a task is some kind of communicative (and potentially authentic) activity that has a clear outcome)

Our moderator then asked the group to think about how they have, or could, implement TBL in their classrooms here in Korea.

(This led to another side note started by @seouldaddy said, “I don’t believe that it is that valuable in the current environment. #keltchat great for developing communicative competence but that’s not the focus now. @Keisenhow disagreed and said the new NEAT test was designed specifically for communicative competence. @rhettteacher mentioned that extra curricular teaching plans are being phased out! Korea should find a more TBL curriculum.)

  •  @hallg suggested we revise or create one task based on book focus/content…& try it out…revise strategy & expand. One ‘real life’ task I did was to get Ss to participate in panel discussion…b/c my students were likely to do something like that in future. I’ve had Ss introduce how to make a presentation or how to design & edit a video.. real-life for my classes, too
  • @GemL1 suggested TBL doesn’t have to be a whole lesson, can just be an activity. most people have probably used TBL without realizing / calling it that. Ideas: planning trips, planning a dinner party, job interviews, making a documentary
  • @seouldaddy WebQuests are a nice problem-based approach. Many of the examples online aren’t aging gracefully, but the approach is solid.
  • @breathyvowel asked “In some forms of TBL, the tasks are graded & designed to push students to the language they need. Anyone ever tried doing this?
  • @michaelgriffin I have designed tasks to meet language needs of students, which are discovered through prev. tasks. I don’t really have much to say about implementation aside from try it out and be brave and ready to justify decisions. #justdoit
  • @rhettteacher implementation is a evolving process. It changes each time you teach. Teach Students, not classes.

@GemL1 noted it is difficult to assess using standard tools which led our moderator to ask about for participants to share any experience with self-assessment that they have had. @rhettteacher mentioned his elementary assessments in my class often get a smiley face for successfully participating in the “task”

As time was drawing to a close our moderator asked participants if there were any drawbacks to using TBL in our classes.

  • @breathyvowel Downside – monolingual classes may use a lot of L1 when completing the task
  • @michaelgriffin Downsides include students not seeing/feeling progress (suggestions include making sure they can). Students might feel lost without T input. Potential Solution: Lots of feedback. Ah, another tip: Realize and express to students the teacher realizes that this is different! Help them feel that it is an (planned!) adventure. More advice, Forget bout Ellis/Willis/Ect and make it your own for something that works for you and your students.
  • @hallg yes feedback is so important. Also, helping Ss along the way with scaffolding. For example, when doing int vids, I model how to approach Subjs & ask for perm to interview & record
  • @GemL1 – potential downside – some Ss may dominate and contribute a lot more than others, solution: assign specific roles
  • @leoselivan I like the idea with specific roles and perhaps rotate them too

@michaelgriffin I didn’t even vote for this topic and I don’t have much to say.

And with that the chat came to a close.

A whirlwind of an hour it was, I hope this summary has helped to piece together the many lines of thought brought out by Mr. Alex Grevett. A great thanks to him for expertly moderating and helping all of us work out the ins, outs and what have yous regarding TBL in Korea.

Some confusion lingered throughout the chat as to the definition between TBL and PBL. Perhaps this would be a good topic for a future discussion? Do you have any ideas for our next chat? If you do, add them in the comment section below, or find us on Facebook at #Keltchat.

Links

–Write up on strong form TBL – http://kevingiddens.posterous.com/teddy-bears-bookmaking-and-publishing-ceos-ta

–A TBL idea mentioned by @hallg and @gemL1 – http://fiftypeopleonequestion.com/

–Michael Griffin shared a review of “widgets”- a different type of coursebook- http://eltrantsreviewsreflections.wordpress.com/542-2/ and http://www.widgets-inc.com/teacher/tblt.php

–The great @Kevchanwow talks TBL- http://theotherthingsmatter.blogspot.kr/2012/04/4-approach-challenge-or-attempt-to.html

–Six things all language teachers should know about tasks – http://sixthings.net/2010/06/25/six-things-all-language-teachers-should-know-about-tasks/

–@GemL1 shared a good example of a TB grammar lesson which can be found here-  http://www.onestopenglish.com/grammar/grammar-teaching/task-based-grammar-teaching/

–@leoselivan shared this link to “From tasking purposes to purposing tasks” by Anthony Burton- http://www.eltj.org/ELTJ%20debate%202003/bruton1.pdf

–@leoselivan defends TBL – http://leoxicon.blogspot.kr/2012/05/in-defence-of-tbl.html

–@keisenhow mentioned “Rod Ellis has a clear and concise slide show on TBLT on Slide Share- . http://www.slideshare.net/search/slideshow?searchfrom=header&q=task-based+language+teaching

–From Marisa Constantinidies- “Here is a good page from the Willises” – http://www.willis-elt.co.uk/taskbased.html

#KELTChat Preview: National English Assessment Test (NEAT) – Sunday 9th September, 8pm

Hi everyone,

This week we had the unusual situation of the #KELTChat topic poll being a tie between NEAT and Building Autonomy and Fluency. Much discussion went on in the #KELTChat ivory tower, and we finally decided that we would do NEAT this week, and Autonomy and Fluency in a fortnight’s time.

During the chat we’ll be talking about what exactly the test is, how it will affect the practice of both foreign and Korean teachers, strategies for teaching the various sections, and for the university bods, how it might affect the students in higher education and even beyond.

As ever, we’d be thrilled if you’d join us, particularly if you have some expertise with NEAT. If you’re new to Twitter chatting and aren’t sure quite how it works, check out this handy guide. If you have no idea what #KELTChat is, have a look here or here. You can also contact us through Twitter (@breathyvowel, @JosetteLB, @michaelegriffin, @alexswalsh, @annehendler) or on our Facebook page.

Cheers

Alex (@breathyvowel)

#KELTChat Preview: “What about listening? Why or why not, how to, what is its value?” – Sunday 29th April, 8pm.

This week’s #KELTChat sees a new direction for us – our first participant suggested topic. At the end of out last chat Kristina Eisenhower (@keisenhow) suggested the topic in the title of this post. She was kind enough to outline further what she meant by this. Over to Kristina:

“I suggested listening as the topic for #KELTChat because I think it is often forgotten or cast aside as unimportant.  The Korean context seems to place more emphasis on speaking and writing.  Yet, in my opinion, listening is the most important skill in language learning, especially in the early stages.  Listening is essential not only as a receptive skill, but also provides the departure point for second language acquisition, and is fundamental to the development of spoken language proficiency.  So my questions are:

  • What do you think constitutes a listening curriculum and methodology?
  • How much time or allocation should we give to this macro skill?  How much time or emphasis do we ACTUALLY give it?  WHY?
  • How can we assess it or measure it?
  • What are some effective activities to “teach listening”?”

We will try to structure the chat around Kristina’s questions, so I would encourage you to have a think about them in advance. It would also be really helpful for teachers if we could share links of where to find useful listening examples online.

While this is the first participant suggested topic, we hope that it is the first of many, so if you have an idea for a topic that you want to discuss, or a problem that you think that the #KELTChat community can help you solve, please suggest it at the end of this Sunday’s chat, or write it on the poll that we will start on the Facebook group on the following Monday. We welcome any and every contribution, mostly because it makes our brains hurt to try and think up new topics.

We really hope that you can join us for Sunday’s chat, and would like to extend our thanks to everyone who has contributed to our community so far. We look forward to hearing more from you very soon.

If you’re new to Twitter chatting and aren’t sure quite how it works, check out this handy guide. If you have no idea what #KELTChat is, have a look here or here.

Alex (@breathyvowel)

#KELTChat Summary – 15th April 2012: Integrating Personal and Institutional Teaching Beliefs

Welcome to our bi-weekly #KELTChat summary. I must say that this was one of the most lively and interesting #KELTChats yet, and I was very lucky to be able to moderate it. Actually, I mostly just sat back and watched the debate roll along, thanks to excellent contributions from @michaelegriffin, @seouldaddy, @barryjamesonelt, @annehendler, @keisenhow and @languagebubble. I’d also like to extend a big thanks to @GwendaAtkinson and @ninaisk who were participating in their first ever #KELTChat, and to our foreign correspondent @kevchanwow for a couple of timely interventions. We hope you’ll all be back next time, preferably with friends!

How do we integrate our beliefs with those or our institution?

This was where we started out with our chat. Many chatters felt that they had a good amount of freedom to do what they wanted in their classrooms, and this led to simply trying out new stuff without consulting the administration, “Easier to ask forgiveness than permission” as @seouldaddy put it. Others saw compromise as key, and learning to change what you can and accept what you can’t (for example, grading on a curve). After all, we are all paid by our institutions, and they do have the final say.

An excellent point was made by @michaelegriffin, who suggested that when we talk about beliefs it is not necessarily a case of right and wrong,but one of difference. There may also be the problem of teachers who do not have, or are unaware of their own beliefs. As a solution to this problem, it was suggested that written reflection could aid a teacher in clarifying their own beliefs before they tried to integrate them.

How do we deal with coursebooks?

The conversation then turned to a predictably hot issue. It seemed that most of the participants were in situations where they were given a coursebook to teach from, where perhaps they would have preferred otherwise. The general attitude seemed to be that coursebooks were useful to provide a structure, but that the content must be tuned much more to the students lives. However, books can be useful for providing useful input and models and even as a structure to the lesson. I thought this linked nicely to my recent blog post about coursebooks, and I’d also highly recommend this post for those trying to adapt a coursebook.

One negative consequence of abandoning the book completely may be student complaints; understandably too – why buy the book if you’re never going to open it? One crafty suggestion was to assign book work for homework, thus ensuring the students are using it, and making maximum use of time with a “native speaker” (don’t kill me Jenkins devotees) in the class. @keisenhow further suggested giving students the choice of ‘book’ or ‘real life’, with the latter being much more popular.

Assessment

This was again a big issue for many people, including myself. We identified plenty of problems, grading on a curve (mentioned earlier) and having to give written exams for ostensibly conversation based courses. @michaelegriffin even questioned the validity of written exams as a whole. Some suggestions were put forward, such as open ended written questions and continuous assessment throughout the course. These were very popular, but could cause problems with institutional goals and also teacher time-poverty.

Teacher or Entertainer

The last quarter of the discussion turned toward another familiar topic, especially to those who work in private academies, that of teachers who are forced to be ‘entertaining’ first, and help students to learn second. This was the case for one participant who felt that he was a ‘gag-man’ and that ‘serious teachers get more strife’ within their institution, due to the fact that students and parents pressure (consciously or not) to be fun. It was also pointed out that university teachers face a similar pressure due to student evaluations.

The fact that this was a polar opposition was challenged, with @annehendler stating that both were possible and that when having fun, learning could take place by accident. Strategies for keeping class fun from the ‘schizophrenic’ @languagebubble included being serious for 10 minutes an hour and using laughter as a tool for learning. It was at this point that the distinction between ‘humour’ and ‘fun’ was drawn, and the value of humour for rapport building was highlighted.

Wrap-up

I hope that this summary has covered some of the main points. Thanks once again to those who participated. Please continue to spread the word about #KELTChat, and see you in two weeks time!

Cheers,

Alex (@breathyvowel)

Memorable Tweets

These were some of the most memorable tweets from tonight’s discussion:

  • @barryjamesonelt: my bosses own the school so their livelihood is on the line but I’m not a machine. I have my own teaching principles #keltchat
  • @michaelegriffin: and then once we know what our beliefs are then we can prioritize and think about where to bend or change or not.#KELTchat
  • @breathyvowel: I take the themes and the grammar, and try to work it into a more personal, convo driven framework.#KELTchat
  • @keisenhow: I BELIEVE the lessons should pertain to the Ss lives, not the generic life of the textbook. #KELTchat
  • @GwendaAtkinson: agreed — throughout…even portfolio style…ss learnin how2monitor themselves/their grades/givin fdbk #KELTchat
  • @SeoulDaddy: Being an entertainer is great if that drives engagement with the language and objectives of the course.#KELTchat
  • @languagebubble: its sad but true. ironic- when i cared abt evals is when i used to get lower feedback than the new me of ‘not caring’ #KELTChat