Linking ‘task’ and curricular thinking
The article argues that an important challenge for TBLT, as a fundamentally education-oriented effort within language teaching and learning studies, is to arrive at a foundation for the construct of ‘task’ that captures its holistic understanding of language, language use, and language learning in a way that goes beyond affirming its orientation toward communication. If the construct of task is to facilitate learners’ ability to expand their meaning-making capacities in oral and written discourse, attaining that goal will require a repositioning of ‘task’ in a number of fundamental ways. The article highlights and discusses the opportunities for doing so by embedding task into a framework that is genre-oriented in its curricular thinking and task-based in its pedagogical manifestations. Specifically, it identifies parameters for curriculum development that would support fundamental TBLT interests; describes impediments to curricular thinking that must be overcome; introduces an understanding of curriculum that is suited to being translated into educational contexts; and offers a set of considerations that can provide the foundation for curriculum development. Ideally, these new forms of task-oriented curriculum development will involve a series of steps ‘from below’, a form of empowerment of educators, and a series of steps ‘from above’, where the adoption of a functional (as contrasted with a structural) theory of language, here represented by systemic functional linguistics, is likely to be crucial. When such a functional theory is further tailored to educational imperatives through the construct of genre, it is possible to reposition ‘task’ as a genre-based educative effort that can be expected to make significant contributions not only to the TBLT agenda itself but to the entire field of languages studies.