Tasks And Authentic Tasks English Language Essay

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This second chapter focuses on the background literature of the study, specifically the background and a number of studies related to the research topic. Firstly, a general picture of the research background will be provided with an overview of the two key concepts, namely "task and authentic tasks" and "reading activities". Finally, brief reviews of the related studies which have close relations to the research topic are mentioned and justify the aims and objectives of this research paper.

2.1. Key concepts

2.1.1. Tasks and authentic tasks

2.1.1.1. Tasks

In turning to the concept of 'task authenticity', it is necessary to demonstrate what is meant by the term 'task' itself. Recently, there have been numerous linguistic definitions of 'task', the briefest may be of Richards, J.C., Platt, J. & Platt, H. (Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics - 1992) "Task is an activity which is designed to help achieve a particular learning goal" (p.373). This broad definition is then specified by Willis, J. (A Framework for Task-based Learning. London: Longman.- 1996), as she defines 'tasks' as "activities where the target language is used by the learner for communicative purpose (goal) in order to achieve an outcome" (p.23). Accordingly, not only purposeful classroom activities, but also those with 'communicative language use' are considered as 'task' by her. This viewpoint is further supported by Nunan (1989), as he also sticks meaning of tasks with form of a task: "Task is a piece of classroom work which involves learners in comprehending, manipulating, producing or interacting in the target language while their attention is principally focused on meaning rather than form" (p.10). For the sake of clearance, this paper will refer to Nunan's definition whenever the term 'task' is mentioned.

Student roles

Input Despite apparent differences, all of these aforementioned definitions meet at one point, which is a task always has a 'goal'. Moreover, as Nunan (1989, pp. 10-11) further demonstrates, this goal is achieved through one or a number of 'activities', they are verbal or non-verbal 'inputs'. Also, a specific task always takes place in a particular setting which teachers and students play certain roles. Altogether, a task could be said to comprise six main components, as illustrated in Nunan's diagram below:

Teacher roles

Goals

TASK

Settings

Activities

Figure 1. A framework for analysing communicative tasks

2.1.1.2. Authentic tasks

2.1.1.2.1. Definition of task authenticity

According to Richards, J.C., Platt, J. & Platt, H. (Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics - 1992), they considered 'authenticity is the degree to which language teaching materials have the qualities of natural speech or writing' (p.27). However, this definition is considered too narrow by Stepherd (2006), since 'authenticity', as mentioned by him, lies not only in the 'genuineness' of text, but has much to do with the notion of task. Specifically, task authenticity could decide "whether language is used for a genuine purpose, whether it is used to serve learners' real world needs, whether the task involves negotiation of meaning, whether it can engage learners" (Stepherd, 2005 cited in To et al., 2006, p.27). In light of this perception, To et al. (2005) define 'authentic task' as those involving learners in using language in a way that replicates its use in the 'real world' outside the language classroom (p.32). For example, after reading a leaflet about available summer resorts, making comparisons and decisions on where to go is considered an authentic task, whereas doing a gap-fill exercise or identifying true - false statements is not.

2.1.1.2.2. The importance of task authenticity

In recent years, it is commonly agreed in language teaching that authenticity is beneficial to the learning process. As explained by William Guariento and John Morley (Text and task authenticity in the EFL classroom- 2001), the communicative movement has raised the awareness of developing students' skills for the real world. As a result, teachers have made numerous attempts to stimulate the real world in their classrooms, notably by introducing a good number of authentic materials. As acknowledged by Wilkins (1976, p.79, cited in Guariento and Morley, 2001), authentic texts are helping to fill in the gap between classroom knowledge and a student's capacity to participate in real world events.

However, Guariento and Morley (2001) discover that authentic input by itself is insufficient. This argument is further supported by Walter, C. ( Authentic Reading. Cambridge. CUP.- 1982) that authentic texts does not automatically results in authentic reading, since the students may be reading for totally different purposes that they would in the real world (p.2). Therefore, Candlin and Edelhoff (1982, cited in Nunan, 1989, p.60) conclude that "the processes to which the learner submits aural and written texts and the things he or she is required to do with the data should also be authentic". Likewise, Stepherd (2005, cited in To et al., 2006, p.31) argues that authentic materials alone cannot result in effective learning if they are not used meaningfully and appropriately to learners. Therefore, he raises the question of task authenticity, since he believes that authentic tasks can determine "whether language is used for a genuine purpose, whether it is used to serve learners' real world needs, whether the task involves negotiation of meaning, and whether it can engage learners". As a result, it becomes justifiable that task authenticity plays an equally significant role with authentic materials in bridging the gap between classroom and the real world.

2.1.1.2.3. Classification of authentic tasks

In order to classify authentic tasks, it is necessary to put 'authentic tasks' in the relation to 'tasks' in general. According to Nunan (1989), communicative classroom tasks can be rationalized in either 'real-world' or 'pedagogical' terms (p.40). As illustrated in the diagram below, tasks with a real - world rationale "require learners to approximate, in class, the sort of behaviours required of them in the world beyond the classroom", whereas tasks with a pedagogical rationale ask learners to do what is unlikely to be done by them outside the classroom (Nunan, 1989, p.40).

Communicative classroom tasks

Task type

Real - world

Pedagogic

Rationale

Rehearsal

Psycholinguistic

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