Chapter 9. Qualitative differences in novice teachers’ enactment of task-based language teaching in Hong Kong primary classrooms
Diverse aspects of task-based language teaching (TBLT) and learning have been researched for more than two decades. While there is much theoretical discussion concerning the definition of tasks and how tasks <i>should be</i> designed and implemented, there is as yet only limited understanding of how TBLT is <i>actually</i> enacted in authentic classrooms. This study investigated how TBLT was enacted in primary ESL classrooms in Hong Kong, focusing on the way teachers manage the linguistic, cognitive, and interactional demands of tasks. Adopting a multiple-case study approach, the data set included a total of 20 lessons taught by four teachers on the same topic, individual lesson plans and teaching materials, as well as interviews with these teachers. Tasks completed by the students were also collected and analysed. Findings of the study showed that teachers differed in enacting TBLT in their classrooms along six dimensions: (1) strategic use of visual support to manage task demands; (2) contextualizing input to make connections between old and new knowledge; (3) simultaneous attention to task demands for progression in complexity; (4) provision of scaffolding through task sequencing and adjustment of task variables; (5) creating conditions for noticing form and salient features; and (6) creating conditions for restructuring to occur. These findings imply that what is most important in shaping learning in the TBLT classroom is not the task per se, but rather the interweaving of pedagogic strategies at various levels of complexity as teachers respond to students’ needs in the immediacy of the classroom environment.