English Language and Chinese Students’ Competences

Abstract

This study examines the impact of task-based English teaching on Chinese students’ competencies, such as reading comprehension and writing. The mixed-methods approach involving an experimental part and a qualitative part based on interviewing the participants is applied in this study. The procedure for the experimental part was developed giving attention to the design, implementation, and assessment of task-based English language instruction activities. A growing body of literature suggests that task-based English teaching has gained significance in recent decades because of its perceived relevance in augmenting the linguistic and non-linguistic competencies of learners. The study results indicate that the use of tasks in language learning classrooms promotes students’ learning, the development of skills in reading and writing, social interaction, and the motivation to use English in real-life situations. These findings can be used to promote learning the language in students studying English as a foreign language.

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Introduction

The adoption of task-based language teaching (TBLT) methods in linguistic instruction has increased in the past decade (Derakhshan 2018; Bava & Gheitanchian 2017). The technique entails the use of pedagogic tasks that learners undertake in the manner of communication to attain forecasted results for evaluation. The tasks can also involve opinion gaps in authentic texts performed by students to achieve predetermined objectives (Chorthip 2018; Derakhshan 2018; Pierson 2015). According to Mohammadi and Safdari (2015), TBLT methods provide students with natural resources of meaningful content, ideal contexts for communicative activities, and avenues for support to provide better opportunities for language use and interaction. Currently, there exist multiple definitions of task-based teaching and learning. For instance, Mahdieh and Farnaz (2015) describe pedagogical tasks as structured language learning activities that encompass appropriate content, specific working procedures, pre-set objectives, and different outcomes, and such tasks have basic features. Derakhshan (2018) notes that in a pedagogical task, the meaning is supreme, participants should construct their purposes, the task should relate to real life, and the outcome should be evaluated. Therefore, TBLT is viewed as guaranteeing more successful learning of English in comparison to other methods.

TBLT has been defined as a work plan that requires pragmatic language consumption to attain an outcome that is assessed following the accuracy and suitability of content. Ellis (2017) posits that TBLT is a thoroughgoing approach that targets communication, relates to real-world endeavors, prioritizes task completion, and assesses outcomes. Thus, assessment forms an integral part of task-based language teaching. The consistent student assessment and feedback framework boost the effectiveness of TBLT. Derakhshan (2018) maintains that TBLT has a plethora of alternatives characterized by its fundamental objectives of enhancing students’ learning process, establishing learners’ autonomy, and self-control strengths. In addition, it promotes students’ cognitive competencies in an intensive reading course and analytic writing, especially in EFL and ESL classrooms (Ellis 2017). It is noteworthy that task-based English language teaching encompasses collaborative assessment, which boosts students’ self-regulative capacities and learning cognition. The approach encourages a suitable written-plus-spoken feedback framework that enhances students’ motivation and language use competence.

The above brief overview shows that TBLT is essential for influencing the improvement of students’ competencies at cognitive and language acquisition levels. Nevertheless, there exists scant empirical evidence of the practical application of the approach in English teaching practice (Ellis 2017). According to Pierson (2015), it is essential to integrate communicative tasks systematically to develop second English learners’ speaking competencies. This research study is based on a basic reconceptualization of task-based English language teaching to determine its influence on students’ competence. The paper attempts to examine the relationship between applying TBLT and changes in students’ competencies as well as learners’ perceptions of the usefulness of tasks provided according to this approach.

Literature Review and Theoretical Framework

There exists a strong consensus among researchers specializing in second language teaching and acquisition that task-based language teaching benefits students by providing an opportunity to produce the intended language in meaningful settings. TBLT moves away from traditional teaching approaches and adopts a more communicative framework and encourages realistic interactions among learners (Yildiz & Senel 2017). Supporters of collaborative learning emphasize that tasks should be goal-oriented, have several possible outcomes, and permit students to interact with one another during execution beyond their current level of knowledge of the intended language (Bava & Gheitanchian 2017). Such frameworks ensure that students are involved proactively in the learning process.

The effectiveness of task-based English language teaching has been explored broadly in the field of second language acquisition. Over the past three decades, there has been a surge of interest in task-based language instruction, which is evidenced by multiple published articles, journals, and special issues in English language teaching (Yildiz & Senel 2017). The growing interest in TBLT has been attributed to the inherent qualities of tasks such as a significant focus on meaning, motivating students to draw on their linguistic and cognitive resources, and goal-adaptation concepts, which mandate learners to use language to accomplish real-world tasks (Setayesh & Marzban 2017). NamazianDost, Bohloulzadeh, and Pazhakh (2017) carried out a study to investigate the effect of TBLT on motivation and grammatical attainment of learners in EFL junior school and reported positive results. The researchers designed activities to assess learners in real-world contexts that mandated the use of English in everyday situations. The study aimed at examining the impact of task-based English language teaching on promoting grammatical proficiency among Iranian junior high school students. The authors report a significant influence of TBLT on grammatical achievement.

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Furthermore, task-based language instructional approaches promote the motivation of students to complete assignments related to English language learning. Herraiz (2018) postulates that task-based education encourages students to learn as well as retain language skills and creativity. In addition to improved grammatical achievement, TBLT plays a central role in enhancing the degree of interactivity, which is an effective way of attaining important educational outcomes by boosting learners’ motivation to learn and use a foreign language (Bava & Gheitanchian 2017). Mohammadipour and Rashid (2015) used a cognitive approach to study the effectiveness of TBLT on fostering the oral proficiency of EFL learners. The authors’ motivation to carry out the study emanated from the fact that speaking is the most frequently utilized language skill compared to listening, reading, and writing (Mohammadipour & Rashid 2015). The study reveals positive results, which proved that a task-based teaching program grounded in the cognitive framework was useful in fostering learners’ speaking proficiency.

Thus, there has been extensive research carried out in foreign language settings to determine the impact of TBLT on enhancing learners’ competence (Córdoba Zúñiga 2016; Setayesh & Marzban 2017). Derakhshan (2018,) notes several aspects of task-based English language instruction. Notably, teaching should ensure well-adjusted development in various aspects of language performance including accuracy, fluency, and complexity that contribute to the sustainable progression in students’ language abilities. Learners are likely to achieve such complexity if they develop control over newly acquired linguistic skills as well as integrate them into fluent performance (Ahmed & Bidin 2016). Furthermore, according to Pierson (2015), task-based English teaching is effective in enhancing students’ speaking and analytic writing skills because it uses real-life activities such as story-telling, problem-solving, and giving directions. Task-based language instruction uses real-world activities that promote situational authenticity (NamazianDost, Bohloulzadeh & Pazhakh 2017). The emergence of TBLT can be ascribed to the need for language instructors to help learners with both acquisition and knowledge of the language.

Additionally, task-based language educators use the approach to help learners in developing their skills and abilities to utilize language in real-world endeavors. The technique adopts three critical strategies proposed by Martin Bygate, including the task-supported approach, task-referenced approach, and task-based approach (Mahdieh & Farnaz 2015). The task-supported approach entails the use of tasks to complement prevailing language teaching methods while the task-referenced tactic utilizes tasks to characterize the competencies that students are supposed to acquire after the course (Herraiz Martínez 2018; Setayesh & Marzban 2017). In his review of empirical findings on cognitive and socio-cognitive perspectives of TBLT, Ellis (2017) stresses the essence of a synergetic connection between practice and research. Most researchers agree that task-based English language teaching represents an innovative scheme to encourage the involvement of teachers in practical classroom demonstrations.

Most researchers adopt Ellis’ three-phase model of TBLT, which includes pre-task, during the task, and post-task (Chen & Wang 2019; Lopes 2015). The pre-test task stage seeks to introduce new themes of the task to partakers and prepares them with properly-organized setting constructions and systems of language. It sets up the task’s requirements. Primary activities of the pre-task stage encompass planning, raising awareness, and teaching. In this stage, students have adequate time to plot the way to carry out a given task (Pierson 2015). In the pre-task phase, teachers should make learners comprehend the theme. It is worth noting that the whole process of obtaining meaning from texts presents a significant challenge to ESL and EFL learners because of their cognitive deficiencies, which emanate from the difficulties of processing information in a foreign or second language (Ellis 2017). According to Chen and Wang (2019), failure to provide adequate background information to ESL or EFL students can prevent them from processing and acquiring a second language.

Such activities are crucial to developing students’ receptive skills, self-autonomy, and motivation in high-level reading scenarios. Mohammadipour and Rashid (2015) argue that the phases developed by Ellis are critical to determining the outcomes of task-based English language teaching and for example, providing EFL and ESL learners with explicit instruction before the task fosters an understanding of spoken language in practical performance. Moreover, Córdoba (2016) stresses the importance of raising awareness in the pre-task stage before involving learners in communicative tasks. Such activities improve students’ linguistic, discourse, and pragmatic competencies.

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The during-task phase showcases the activities being carried out by learners and their requirements during the session. This stage specifies that students should carry out a particular task under time pressure (Herraiz 2018). For example, a task may require students to prepare an in-class presentation in a limited time frame. Each learner is expected to report findings independently while the audience asks questions about any identified grammatical errors, incomplete content of the submission, or logical fallacy (Pierson 2015). In essence, tasks should be challenging enough to allow students to engage thoughtfully and foster balanced mental processing. Instructors can manipulate the degree of difficulty of tasks and amend procedures to improve outcomes.

The post-task stage involves a period of feedback and assessment. It features feedback, which underpins the progression of second language writing, speaking, and analytic skills. Feedback plays a leading role in influencing the potential for learning and student motivation (Yildiz & Senel 2017). Post-task stages focus on self-regulation, peer evaluation, and teacher assessment. Mainly, the post-task phase involves three principal activities. First, students use self-reflection reports to review their performance in the previous stage. Further, learners evaluate their peers’ performance (Herraiz 2018). As well, an instructor writes an assessment based on three dimensions, namely comments, language focus, and in-class presentation. Comments adhere to the principle of acknowledgment, approval (praise), and proposals (suggestions) (Yildiz & Senel 2017). Teachers need to provide valuable recommendations, use affirmative and incentivizing language rather than criticism to boost students’ confidence in undertaking additional tasks. Tasks vary widely depending on the focus of instruction (Ellis 2017). Teachers can evaluate students on a variety of demonstratable outcomes, including fluency, accuracy, pronunciation, intonation, sentence structures, confidence, and other non-linguistic aspects.

Furthermore, researchers have attempted to investigate the effect of integrating technology in task-based language teaching approaches on improving learners’ competencies. In particular, Bava and Gheitanchian (2017) studied the impact of multimedia TBLT on the accuracy, fluency, and oral production. In the modern era of hyper-digitization, instructors need to adopt evolving technologies in their design and implementation of task-based language teaching approaches. In the past three decades since the emergence of TBLT, a vast body of studies reports favorable outcomes on oral language production with limited integration of multimedia technologies. Bava and Gheitanchian (2017) conducted a study to investigate the influence of technology-mediated TBLT on EFL learners’ speaking proficiency using different levels of task intricacy. The researchers measured the rate of correct clauses, error-free verbs, and plural forms among Iranian EFL students.

The literature reviewed for this study indicates that instructors can benefit from applying TBLT in their practice to develop linguistic skills in students. However, there is still limited research on the impact of TBLT on developing and enhancing students’ competencies. Furthermore, there is a lack of research indicating students’ attitudes toward this specific teaching approach, and more research is required in this field.

Research Focus

Research Questions and Hypotheses

The research focus of this study is on examining the relationship between the use of the task-based English language teaching method and changes in students’ competencies in reading and writing. The following research questions guided this study based on the mixed methods approach:

  • RQ1: What is the effect of using the task-based English language teaching method on students’ competencies in reading and writing?
  • RQ2: What perceptions do students have regarding task-based English language teaching?

Referring to the research question on the relationship between TBLT and students’ competencies to determine the impact of the method with the help of an experimental study, the following hypotheses have been formulated:

  • H0: Applying task-based English language teaching has no impact on students’ competencies.
  • H1: Applying task-based English language teaching has a significant impact on students’ competencies.

Participants

The participants for this study included 30 Chinese students interested in developing their English language competencies. These individuals were selected among the population of 112 students enrolled in the intensive English reading and writing course. The participants included 15 males and 15 females aged 18-20 years old who had decided to study the English language as their first major. The focus was on selecting those students who had a mean score of 130 out of 150 marks received for their entrance examination in English.

Instrumentation

To respond to the first research question, it was necessary to conduct an experiment based on using materials for pre-testing and post-testing students’ competencies about their reading and writing, as well as texts and tasks for the experimental part. The students were provided with protocols for pre-testing their abilities in reading and writing and protocols for post-testing their competencies. The texts for students’ work during the experimental stage were on the themes of Ethical Issues Related to Nursing Homes, The Role of Diversity in Colleges and Universities, and The Problem of Students’ Employment During Study. Tasks were administered by the researcher who played the role of an instructor.

For the second, qualitative, part of this mixed methods research, an interview protocol was used to collect the students’ opinions regarding their perceptions of task-based English language teaching. The structured questionnaire included 10 questions on students’ thoughts regarding the effect of TBLT on developing their competencies in reading and writing. Thus, the study employed open-ended questions to examine students’ particular perceptions on the impact of task-based English language teaching approach on changes in their competencies. The participants were interviewed face-to-face and via phone, and their answers were recorded and transcribed for further use during interpretation.

Procedure

The experimental part of this research was associated with conducting a TBLT-based session for students participating in an experimental group and a general learning session for students from a control group on the same topic. The participants were grouped randomly as they all demonstrated similar comprehensive learning abilities. Two groups of students received three one-hour sessions during three weeks (one session per week). Before participating in sessions, the participants were asked to complete pre-tests. Sessions for the members of control and experimental groups differed only on the presence of tasks for students from the experimental group. Each week students were exposed to working with one of the previously listed themes. The session started with a warm-up and brainstorming questions. The main activity included the work with the text, reading and writing exercises, and class discussions. The follow-up stage was associated with providing essays on the set topics and their oral presentation.

Sessions for the experimental group followed the same plan, but the main activity part was organized according to the principles of TBLT with a focus on pre-task, during the task, and post-task activities. The work with the text was preceded by questions and answers, it was associated with completing certain exercises, and followed by completing a summary. Teachers are expected to give printed reading materials with several questions or require learners to watch a topic-related video before the lesson (Setayesh & Marzban 2017). Pre-task activities enable learners to understand and prepare themselves adequately for the task to boost language competence.

Reading and writing exercises were also introduced and finished according to the TBLT method. Instead of participating in class discussions, students were asked to prepare oral presentations of their opinions regarding the topic. In-class presentations have several primary benefits to both speakers and listeners. For instance, on-the-spot feedback helps learners to identify errors or neglected language rules during the presentation. In addition, such activities are effective in engaging students with each other’s work as well as facilitating the development of an audience’s logical thinking. In the during-task stage, the selection of tasks is a prominent factor, which underpins performance. In summary, the students from an experimental group received specific tasks on reading, writing, and oral presentation. After completing three sessions, the participants from both groups completed post-testing, and the focus was on measuring the accuracy and complexity in performing tasks.

When three sessions were completed, the participants from the experimental group took part in individual interview sessions to answer the questions on their perceptions of the sessions. They were also asked to share their opinion regarding any observed changes in their English language competencies. The answers to these questions were further used by the researcher for analyzing students’ perceptions and responding to the second research question.

Research Method and Findings

Descriptive statistics and the results of t-tests were calculated for two groups to determine any differences in their performance concerning the implementation of TBLT for the representatives of the experimental group. The absence of a significant difference between groups’ results before the experiment was determined with a focus on comparing the means for the two groups. Table 1 presents the descriptive statistics concerning the scores received after completing the pre-test in reading.

Table 1. Descriptive Statistics of Two Groups on the Reading Pre-Test:

N Minimum Maximum Mean St. Deviation Skewness
Statistic Std. Error
Experimental 15 5 20 16.143 3.0523 -.509 .441
Control 15 3 20 15.965 4.5647 -.621 .441

According to Table 1, there was no critical difference in the mean scores determined for the reading pre-test for the experimental and control groups (16.143 and 15.965 accordingly). In order to determine the existence of the statistical significance, it was necessary to conduct t-tests. Table 2 represents the results of an independent sample t-test that was performed for the two groups on their pre-test in reading.

Table 2. Independent Sample t-Test for Two Groups on Reading (Pre-Test):

Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
95% Confidence Interval of the Difference
F Sig. t Df Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Difference Std. Error Difference Lower Upper
Equal variances assumed .131 .004 .163 52 .007 .1782 1.0456 -1.987 2.294
Equal variances not assumed .163 51.99 .007 .1782 1.0456 -1.987 2.294

The results of Levene’s test indicate that the F value is.131, where p =.004 < 0.05. Therefore, the variances between the examined groups were significantly different with reference to statistical significance. In addition, the results of the t-test, where t equals.163 and p =.007 < 0.05, indicate that the absence of a particular difference between the mean scores is still statistically significant. Table 3 provides the descriptive statistics details with reference to the scores that were received after completing the post-test in reading.

Table 3. Descriptive Statistics of Two Groups on the Reading Post-Test:

N Minimum Maximum Mean St. Deviation Skewness
Statistic Std. Error
Experimental 15 8 20 17.874 3.1436 -.583 .441
Control 15 6 20 16.965 3.6433 -.438 .441

The results indicate that the difference in the mean scores determined for the reading post-test for the experimental and control groups (17.874 and 16.965 accordingly) was only in about 1 point. The t-test was conducted in order to determine the existence of the statistical significance in these findings. Table 4 includes the results of an independent sample t-test that was calculated for the two groups on post-testing in reading.

Table 4. Independent Sample t-Test for Two Groups on Reading (Post-Test):

Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
95% Confidence Interval of the Difference
F Sig. t Df Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Difference Std. Error Difference Lower Upper
Equal variances assumed .023 .001 1.145 53 .004 0.9091 0.2416 1.237 2.124
Equal variances not assumed 1.145 52.98 .004 0.9091 0.2416 1.237 2.124

According to the results of Levene’s test, the F value is.023, where p =.001 < 0.05. Thus, the variances between the examined groups were significantly different in this case. The results of the t-test, where t equals 1.145 and p =.004 < 0.05, indicate that a particular difference between the mean scores related to the two groups of the participants is statistically significant. Comparing the results for pre- and post-testing in reading, it is possible to state that that the experimental group demonstrated the statistically significant improvement in the mean score in about 1.7 points in comparison to pre-test results and in 0.9 points in comparison to the control group after receiving TBLT. Table 5 provides the descriptive statistics related to the scores that were received by the participants when completing the pre-test in writing.

Table 5. Descriptive Statistics of Two Groups on the Writing Pre-Test:

N Minimum Maximum Mean St. Deviation Skewness
Statistic Std. Error
Experimental 15 6 20 17.135 4.2308 -.456 .441
Control 15 3 20 15.278 3.4657 -.335 .441

Table 5 lists the results indicating that the difference in the mean scores identified for the writing pre-test for the experimental and control groups (17.135 and 15.278 accordingly) was about 2 points. Table 6 provides the results of an independent sample t-test that was conducted to examine the statistical significance in the mean score for the two groups on pre-testing in writing.

Table 6. Independent Sample t-Test for Two Groups on Writing (Pre-Test):

Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
95% Confidence Interval of the Difference
F Sig. t Df Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Difference Std. Error Difference Lower Upper
Equal variances assumed .013 .325 1.267 54 .245 1.857 1.1281 1.231 2.671
Equal variances not assumed 1.267 53.89 .245 1.857 1.1281 1.231 2.671

Levene’s test indicates that the F value is.013, where p =.325 > 0.05. Thus, the variances between the examined groups cannot be discussed as significantly different because of the p value. The results of the t-test, where t is 1.267 and p =.245 > 0.05, also indicate that a difference between the mean scores related to the two groups is not statistically significant. Table 7 provides the results of descriptive statistics related to the scores that were received by the participants when completing the post-test tasks in writing.

Table 7. Descriptive Statistics of Two Groups on the Writing Post-Test:

N Minimum Maximum Mean St. Deviation Skewness
Statistic Std. Error
Experimental 15 6 20 17.144 3.0611 -.507 .441
Control 15 5 20 14.286 3.5677 -.439 .441

According to Table 7, there is noticeable difference in the mean scores identified for the writing post-test for the experimental and control groups (17.144 and 14.286 accordingly). Table 8 provides the results of an independent sample t-test that was performed for the purpose of examining the statistical significance in the mean score for the two groups on post-testing in writing.

Table 8. Independent Sample t-Test for Two Groups on Writing (Post-Test):

Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
95% Confidence Interval of the Difference
F Sig. t Df Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Difference Std. Error Difference Lower Upper
Equal variances assumed .126 .001 2.348 52 .001 2.858 0.6732 0.989 1.224
Equal variances not assumed 2.348 51.98 .001 2.858 0.6732 0.989 1.224

It was found that the observed variance in the mean scores is statistically significant with the F value is.126, where p =.001 < 0.05. According to the results of the t-test, t is 2.348 and p =.001 < 0.05 that emphasizing the statistical significance of the difference in the calculated mean scores. When concluding about the impact of TBLT on students’ competence in writing, it is possible to observe statistically significant improvements in the participants’ mean scores in comparison to the results of the representatives of the control group. H0 was rejected as a result of the study, and H1 was supported by the study findings because of determining statistically significant differences in students’ results related to post-testing in reading and writing competencies.

The results of the conducted interviews were also interpreted to provide the answer to the second research question: RQ2: What perceptions do students have regarding task-based English language teaching? The interview questions sought to investigate the students’ perceptions of any effects of TBLT on their competencies (reading comprehension and writing). The participants’ responses included their ideas, perceptions, attitudes, and visions regarding the following aspects:

Reading:

  • Gained more new ideas while reading texts;
  • improved understanding and comprehension;
  • trained critical thinking;
  • enhanced analytical skills;
  • extended vision.

Writing:

  • Made fewer grammatical and lexical mistakes;
  • Trained to organize written texts appropriately;
  • Learned how to use the advanced vocabulary;
  • Advanced their skills in developing and supporting opinions and ideas.

The participants agreed that TBLT contributed to their learning and understanding, and they found the topics more related to their life and tasks more motivating for learning the material. They also stated that they developed and improved skills in reading and writing with the help of completing structured tasks. Furthermore, the TBLT approach was viewed as stimulating students’ independent work with tasks. Some of the participants found themselves more motivated to learn English as a result of working with provided tasks and exercises. The collected data indicate that more than half of the participants in the intensive reading course experienced challenges in written self-expression, feared to make grammatical mistakes, and were afraid of speaking out their viewpoints before undertaking the tasks.

The results of interviews show that the participants reacted favorably toward the designed tasks. The students acknowledged the authenticity and practical benefits of the tasks in developing their linguistic and non-linguistic abilities, including logical, analytic strategies, teamwork, and strong interpersonal communication. The task-conducting process promoted the use of the English language and allowed the Chinese students to engage in research and interact with one another using English. The study provides evidence regarding the effectiveness of task-based English language teaching on spurring students’ instructional motivations in the learning process. As well, they noted that the participation in task-conducting processes aroused and sustained the students’ curiosity for new knowledge.

Discussion

The study results indicate that TBLT had a significant impact on improving the learners’ language competencies in reading and writing. In comparison to the results of the control group, the members of the experimental group succeeded in improving their results in post-testing in reading and writing. The participants’ positive attitude to TBLT and its impact on their competencies was further supported by their statements in interviews. In particular, the task-based English language instruction helped to deduce students’ anxieties and boosted self-confidence, which are the underlying predictors of developing English language competence. The results show that linguistic confidence can contribute to learning in second language learning environments.

Mainly, tasks provide students with more opportunities to train their skills and communicate with group members while making written and oral presentations to the entire class. Such approaches motivate and even inspire students to use English during lessons actively and improve fluency (Pierson 2015). The study was based on the model by Ellis (2017), which explained the students’ success in learning new information with a focus on TBLT, improving reading comprehension, and becoming aware of their unique skills and abilities (Yildiz & Senel 2017). As such, the learners acquired deep-thinking skills in reading various texts by focusing more closely on the meaning rather than on mastering the English language. In addition, tasks improved the students’ writing competence by enhancing logical thinking and their ability to organize ideas in the English language with the help of following hints in tasks.

These results are in line with the findings by many researchers who studied perspectives of using TBLT in classrooms. Derakhshan (2018) and Bava and Gheitanchian (2017), who noted that complex and challenging tasks contribute to the acquisition of new rules and restructuring the English language system in reading, writing, and speaking proficiency. According to Pierson (2015), tasks pervade a plethora of features of language teaching research and practice besides having diverse forms under various appearances, and they are viewed as closely related to real life. These ideas were supported by the participant’s responses to the interview questions. The participants stated that they developed specific skills related to reading and writing, as well as skills in critical thinking, organizing, and problem-solving. According to NamazianDost, Bohloulzadeh, and Pazhakh (2017), learners performing tasks demonstrate improved competency in English grammar. In addition, the approach contributes to the increased motivation of EFL learners and language mastery abilities. The use of different types of tasks led to positive effects on Iranian EFL learners’ improvement in grammar, and these results are correlated with this study’s findings.

This study shows that constructing a framework of TBLT and applying a proper assessment system influences the development of learners’ competencies in different dimensions, including reading and writing. Overall, the language instruction approach was effective in augmenting learners’ competence because of applying TBLT, and this idea is supported by Ellis (2017). According to Ellis (2017), instructors succeed when designing tasks using the cognitive method to help learners practice multiple intellectual strategies and processes. Engaging students in pre-task, during the task, and post-task stages in tasks is critical to promoting positive outcomes in vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, speaking, and discourse management. The task-based method entails the program designing using a sequence of tasks that focus on the teaching and learning processes to enhance students’ learning (Yildiz & Senel 2017). Additionally, TBLT helps in changing the instructors’ role from demanding to dialog organizers and language mentors, which allows learners to share more significant responsibilities in the learning process. Moreover, task-based language instruction enhances students’ freedom to express themselves besides enhancing their autonomy in the learning process.

Conclusion

This research study has focused on exploring the impact of task-based English language teaching on students’ competencies, especially in EFL and ESL learning settings. According to the findings, TBLT applied for Chinese students learning English has a positive effect on developing their competencies in reading and writing. These improvements are also noticed by students and reported during interviews. In the last decade, TBLT has evolved rapidly and elicited the attention of linguistic educators and researchers. A growing body of literature evidences the effectiveness of task-based language instruction in improving learners’ linguistic and non-linguistic skills. Most studies analyzed in this paper were conducted in developing countries, where English is learned as a foreign or second language. The approach encompasses crucial components such as the designing of tasks, student interactions, teamwork, and assessment methods, which influence its effectiveness.

The study proposes a framework of the TBLT approach and an assessment system to improve students’ competencies. The study investigated the impact of TBLT on selected proficiencies, such as thinking, reading comprehension, cognition, language acquisition, and doing. The paper suggests that an effective TBLT should encompass three phases, which are pre-task, during the task, and post-task. The pre-task entails activities that prepare students for the main tasks, introduce them to the topic, and provide adequate information to bridge the language gap. Researchers insist that the pre-task phase should allow students to design tasks and establish a systematic sequence of conducting them, and determine evaluation criteria.

The during task stage involves the grouping of students to carry out the tasks. In this stage, the instructor and peers assess the performance of students in a formative evaluation. The post-task stage involves an evaluation exercise, which comprises several components, including comments, class presentations, and language focus. Teachers need to provide positive remarks with constructive recommendations to motivate students to partake in future tasks. The study reveals that tasks should display creativity, decision-making, teamwork, and innovation. Instructors should involve learners in decision-making in the teaching process to increase their motivation, productivity, and confidence in using a new language. In addition, the tasks should be designed to spur the creation of novel ideas and enhance the opportunities for language use.

Overall, this research study has shown that TBLT is effective in enhancing interrelationships between learners and develops the students’ capacity for self-regulation, improvement, and autonomy. TBLT is beneficial for improving both linguistic and non-linguistic competencies. Mainly, it helps learners to strengthen organizing, critical thinking, interactive communication, and decision-making skills. Moreover, task-based teaching changes a learner’s attitude to English learning. This approach also creates an environment for collaborative learning. Moreover, it has shown that most students prefer task-based English teaching because it permits communicative interactions and relates to real life. TBLT changes the passive, teacher-centric instruction into student-centered teaching, which enhances learners’ participation in EFL and ESL contexts. Nevertheless, further research is necessary to investigate the effects of technology-integrated task-based English language instruction on learners’ proficiency.

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English Language and Chinese Students’ Competences
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