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Essay: Task-Based vs. PPP Grammar-Based Teaching Methods in Language Education

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Introduction

In order to find the answers to the target questions, task-based lessons and PPP grammar-based are chosen for examination in this paper. The two pedagogies are first analysed and contrasted. The two types of lesson structures are then explained using Willis and Willis’ theory to contrast the similarities and differences of the two structures and their use in typical classroom scenarios more clearly. Based on these two methods, two suitable teaching lesson plans are created that take learners’ context into account, and the goals and objectives of each classroom are analysed in line with those goals. Learning models for both types of classes are also discussed. In the second half of the article, a brief description of the personally preferred pedagogy and potential reasons for it is presented to clarify the positive role teachers can play and expect in these lessons.

Differences between Task-based Lesson and PPP Grammar-Based Lesson

Task-based lesson and ppp grammar based lesson are two independent methods of language training with distinctly different structural approaches.

Structure:

Task-based lesson focus on communicative activities that students must perform while using the language they are learning. A task-based lesson is one that is built around an activity that demands language use from the students in order to complete a meaningful and real-world communication task. The basic structure of a task-based lesson is the pre-task, the task cycle (task, planning, report) and the language focus (analysis and practice). pre-task is designed to arouse students’ interest and inspire their prior knowledge. The language focus is designed to allow students to review the learning process and provide feedback. The tasks may include activities like role-playing, problem-solving assignments, and project-based work. This structure enables students to use the language in a purposeful context and to achieve language learning through tasks. On the other hand, PPP grammar-based lessons are organised around the presentation, practice, and production of certain grammar structures or language forms. In this method, the instructor explains a new grammatical concept, offers examples, and then leads the class through practise exercises that let the learners alter and employ the language form. It gives the teacher control over the lesson’s content and pacing (Thornbury, 2005). Lastly, students use the target language to construct original sentences or utterances.

Practice:

A task-based lesson is characterised as a series of exercises that require students to grasp, use, produce, or communicate in the target language while their attention is primarily on meaning rather than form (Willis and Willis, 2007). Task-based lessons differ from more conventional grammar-based ones in that they place a strong emphasis on meaning. Meanwhile, Scrivener (2011) describes PPP grammar-based classes as presenting a language item, followed by controlled practise of the item, and finally free practise or creation of the item. In this approach, the teacher typically presents a new language form or structure, provides guided practise, and then allows for independent practise.

Teachers Role:

The role of the teacher is one critical difference between task-based and PPP grammar-based sessions. In task-based lessons, the teacher takes on the role of a facilitator or guide, assisting learners in completing the work and offering assistance as needed with language use. Apart from that, the teacher adopts a more directive role in PPP grammar-based classes, delivering specific teaching and imitating the target language.

Method:

The method used to teach languages differs as well. Language is learnt through interaction and conversation in task-based classes, with an emphasis on applying the language in real-world situations. In PPP grammar-based lessons, language is learned through explicit instruction and practice, with the focus on mastering specific language forms or structures.

How Each Lesson is Based on Models of Learning

The foundation of task-based lessons is the communicative language teaching (CLT) model of language learning, which places a strong emphasis on the value of engagement and communication in language learning. Language instruction using CLT emphasises the interactive nature of language use, the attainment of communicative competence as the ultimate objective of language learning, and the utilisation of real, pertinent materials as the cornerstone of instruction (Long, 1985) . With the emphasis on utilising language in context to accomplish a particular objective or finish a task, language is taught through authentic dialogue in task-based sessions.

PPP grammar-based lessons are based on a more conventional structural syllabus approach of language acquisition, which emphasises the presentation, practise, and utilising of particular grammar structures or language forms. The structural syllabus is “based on the concept that language is a system of rules, that the purpose of language teaching is to master these rules, and that teaching should progress from the simple to the complex,” according to Ellis (1997). Language is learnt through explicit instruction in Discrete grammar-based courses, with the goal of acquiring certain language forms or structures.

The learning models that underpin task-based and PPP grammar-based classes reflect several strategies for learning a second language, with each strategy placing emphasis on various aspects of language and language learning. Both strategies can be adjusted to match the requirements and objectives of certain learners and circumstances, yet they each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Suitable Teaching Situation for Two Lessons

Task-based and PPP grammar-based lessons can be effective in different teaching situations depending on the goals, needs, and characteristics of the learners.

Task-Based Lesson

For learners who prefer a more student-centered method of instruction, task-based sessions are appropriate. Moreover, small group work, in accordance with Willis and Willis (2007), encourages students to communicate more deeply and receive more feedback. Task-based lesson can be used with students of any age. The tasks should be age-appropriate and designed to match the learners’ cognitive development.

Here is an example lesson plan:

Class size: 15 students
CEFR level: B1 intermediate

  • Lesson objective: By the end of the lesson, the learners will be able to give and follow directions using prepositions of place in English, in a variety of contexts.
  • Warm-up (5 minutes): Write a list of prepositions of place on the board, such as “in”, “on”, “at”, etc. Ask the students to come up with examples of places or objects that they can use these prepositions with.
  • Task introduction (10 minutes): Introduce the task to the students: they will work in pairs or small groups to plan a route from one location to another, using the maps and directions provided on the handouts.
  • Task preparation (15 minutes): Give the students time to plan their route and practice giving and following directions using the prepositions of place.
  • Task presentation (10 minutes): Have each pair or group present their route and directions to the class. Encourage the students to use appropriate prepositions of place and give clear and concise directions.
  • Closure (5 minutes): Wrap up the lesson by summarizing the key points and thanking the students for their participation.

PPP Grammar-Based Lesson

PPP grammar-based lesson depends on a number of variables, including student age, class size, and language proficiency. PPP is typically regarded as appropriate for larger courses. According to a research by Le and Vu (2021), PPP worked well for larger classes of Vietnamese high school students because it made it easier for teachers to manage classroom conduct and give clear explanations. Because it offers a systematic and transparent manner of learning, the PPP technique is frequently employed when instructing younger students. Yet, as it offers a strong foundation for learning new grammar rules, it can also be employed with adult learners, particularly beginners. A study by Güneş and Özcan (2019) found that PPP was effective in teaching grammar to adult learners at a beginner level. PPP is most suitable for teaching grammar at a beginner or intermediate level as it provides a structured approach to learning new grammar rules.

Here is an example lesson plan:

Teaching Level: Beginner (CEFR A1)
Teaching Class size: 15

  • Teaching Objectives: teacher introduce the present simple tense and its basic usage and provide examples of affirmative, negative, and interrogative sentences in the present simple tense
  • Presentation (20 minutes): The teacher will introduce the present simple tense to the learners using the whiteboard and markers. The teacher will explain the basic usage of the present simple tense and provide examples of affirmative, negative, and interrogative sentences.
  • Practice (20 minutes): The learners will be given worksheets with fill-in-the-blank exercises to practice using the present simple tense. The exercises will be designed to gradually increase in difficulty, from simple affirmative sentences to negative and interrogative sentences.
  • Production (15 minutes): The teacher will use flashcards with present simple tense verbs to prompt the learners to create sentences using the present simple tense.

Aim of Each Lesson

The aims of task-based and PPP grammar-based classes take into account the learners’ unique needs and goals as well as the underlying learning and linguistic models.

With a focus on functional and communicative competence, the major goal of task-based lessons is to help learners improve their capacity to utilise language successfully in everyday communication contexts. Task-based instruction aims to foster communication skills, improve accuracy and fluency, foster learner autonomy, and foster social engagement. (Willis and Willis, 2007). Depending on the particular task or activity being used, the objectives of task-based teaching can shift. For example, in a task-based lesson focused on ordering food in a restaurant, the objectives might include developing learners’ ability to make requests, express preferences, and negotiate meaning in a real-life context.

PPP grammar-based classes’ primary goal is to help learners improve their ability to utilise certain grammar structures or language forms correctly and appropriately, with an emphasis on structural competence. PPP grammar-based courses are designed to give language learners a systematic approach, encourage correctness, increase awareness of form and function, and give opportunities for supervised and controlled practise.(Willis and Willis,2007). Lessons using PPP grammar often have objectives that are focused on the particular grammar structures or language types being taught.

Teaching Preference

While both PPP grammar-based courses and task-based lessons have benefits and drawbacks, I prefer to use task-based lessons in my classroom. Firstly, this approach helps learners to develop their ability to use the language in real-life situations (Skehan, 1998). Being able to improve your communication skills is important for learning English. In my own teaching experience, using English to communicate can promote students’ interest in learning.

Furthermore, according to Willis and Willis (2007), task-based language teaching increases motivation by providing learners with a sense of purpose and relevance to their language learning. Tasks are designed to be interesting and engaging, which encourages learners to participate actively in the learning process and allow learners to take control of their learning process. Learners are encouraged to choose and plan their own tasks, which can enhance their sense of ownership and responsibility for their learning (Littlewood, 2004).

Apart from that, task-based language teaching encourages the development of thinking skills, such as problem-solving and critical thinking. Tasks are designed to be challenging and require learners to use their cognitive skills to complete them successfully (Nunan, 2004). By providing opportunities for learners to engage with different cultures and perspectives, this can help learners to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity (Byram, 1997).

Conclusion

The crucial factor is possibly what successful teachers have always recognized and practiced, which is a mix of diverse activities and techniques tailored to the specific needs of a particular group of learners in a particular setting. Some students may benefit from PPP, while others may benefit from TBLT, and still others may benefit from a blend of both. Although TBLT has become an emergent orthodoxy, PPP is still prominent and deemed pragmatic, thus deserving further research (Littlewood, 2004). Future studies on TBLT should focus on teacher preparation, its effectiveness, and the extent to which task-based learning is incorporated into it.

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