The French Digital Kitchen: Implementing Task-Based Language Teaching Beyond the Classroom

The French Digital Kitchen: Implementing Task-Based Language Teaching Beyond the Classroom

Paul Seedhouse (School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK), Anne Preston (School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK), Patrick Olivier (School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK), Dan Jackson (School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK), Philip Heslop (School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK), Thomas Plötz (Newcastle University, School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK), Madeline Balaam (Newcastle University, School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) and Saandia Ali (Linguistics and Language Didactics, University of Rennes, Campus Villejean, Rennes, France)
DOI: 10.4018/ijcallt.2013010104

Abstract

This paper reports on the French Digital Kitchen, a design-based project which drew on digital sensor technology to take the principles of Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) out of the classroom and into the real-world environment of a kitchen. The project aimed to produce a situated language learning environment where learners could learn aspects of French language and cuisine whilst performing a real-world task. The article describes the blend of TBLT, human-computer interaction (HCI) and user-centred design (UCD) principles the authors adopted in constructing and trialling the kitchen, using multiple data sources. An example of a task cycle is then presented to illustrate (by using CA analysis of transcripts) how learners have used the resources of the kitchen to accomplish the task. The authors’ findings show how the integration of the pedagogical and technological design enabled learners to notice and manipulate new vocabulary items.
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Background: Task-Based Language Teaching

The pedagogical design of the French Digital Kitchen employs Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT), a well-established approach to language learning which prompts learners to achieve a goal or complete a task (Skehan, 1998; 2003). Much like real-world tasks, such as asking for directions, TBLT seeks to develop students’ language through providing a task and then using language to solve it. Some of the main features of TBLT are that: meaning is primary (language use rather than form); there is some communication problem to solve; a classroom task relates directly to real world activities; the assessment is done in terms of outcomes (Ellis, 2003). Willis (1996, p. 1) defines the aims of tasks as “to create a real purpose for language use and to provide a natural context for language study”. It is generally assumed (Ellis, 2003, p. 263) that tasks are carried out in pairs or small groups in order to maximise interaction and autonomy. There has been a substantial programme of research in relation to TBLT, summarised in Skehan (2003). Ellis (2003, p. 320) suggests that “there is a clear psycholinguistic rationale (and substantial empirical support) for choosing ‘task’ as the basis for language pedagogy.” Skehan (1998, p. 95) suggests that transacting tasks “…will engage naturalistic acquisitional mechanisms, cause the underlying interlanguage to be stretched, and drive development forward”.

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