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Speaker Series: Dr. Martin East

August 28, 2019 at 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Location:215 Paterson Hall

Putting Task-Based Language Teaching into Practice: The Place of Teacher Education

Dr. Martin East
(University of Auckland)

Putting new language teaching ideas into practice in school classrooms can be challenging. This is definitely the case with so-called Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) as a learner-centred and experiential pedagogy that stands in contrast to more established teacher-led and grammar-focused communicative approaches.

One potential source of help and support for teachers has been the work of researchers into second language acquisition(SLA)and instructed second language acquisition(ISLA). These researchers are concerned with the processes that influence language learners’ uptake of language. Their findings are designed to inform teachers about what seems to work (and what seems not to work) in the promotion of SLA. However, Burns (1999), for example, noted that many teachers view research suspiciously, as something carried out by theorists who “know little – and understand less – about the day-to-day business of life in the language classroom” (p. 14).

In New Zealand, and as a result of substantial curriculum reform, teachers of languages other than English in the schools sector have been encouraged to consider TBLT as a means of achieving published curricular goals. Nevertheless, and in spite of positive research findings – including studies in the New Zealand schools context – implementation of TBLT in schools has not been straightforward.

In this talk I will present findings from a longitudinal study that investigated whether a dedicated focus on TBLT via teacher education initiatives could challenge and change teachers’ beliefs and practices and could help them to implement TBLT. The study tracked teachers from their initial teacher education (2012, n = 20) to three years after graduation (2015, n = 7) and then five years after graduation (2017, n = 2). I present findings regarding changes in teachers’ beliefs and practices and speculate on how TBLT as innovation might be made sustainable in schools longer-term. I also consider the interface between practitioner-focused research and SLA research.

About the Presenter

Dr. Martin East is Professor of Language Education in the School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. His research sits at the intersection between second language acquisition, language pedagogy and teacher education, and he publishes widely in areas related to stakeholders’ reception of innovative practices. He is currently President of the International Association for Task-Based Language Teaching, a worldwide organisation of scholars interested in and active contributors to the field of TBLT.

This event is sponsored by the School of Linguistics and Language Studies