Thinking and acting programmatically in taskbased language teaching

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Inquiry may play distinct roles in proposals for and practices of task-based language teaching (TBLT), from theorizing learning and developing taskbased pedagogy, to observing and judging the effectiveness of task-based ideas in practice, to ultimately understanding the value of TBLT as an approach to educational reform. In this paper, considering these diverse possibilities for inquiry in TBLT, I first reflect on the origins and practical impact of task-based ideas, highlighting their programmatic and educational scope. I then point to the lack of alignment between this programmatic orientation and prevailing emphases in much of the existing TBLT research. In response, I suggest that pragmatic traditions of program evaluation enable the critical articulation of inquiry with real needs of real educators to do real educational good in real program contexts. By examining published cases of TBLT program evaluation, I identify the ways in which they have contributed to both practical decision making in situ and to the accumulation of improved understandings about taskbased language education in general. I conclude with recommendations for the integration of program evaluation as a key development in advancing the value of TBLT endeavors.


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