Exploring Task-Based Curriculum Development in a Blended-Learning Conversational Chinese Program

Exploring Task-Based Curriculum Development in a Blended-Learning Conversational Chinese Program

Yao Zhang Hill (Kapi‘olani Community College, USA) and Stephen L. Tschudi (University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2467-2.ch016
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This paper brings task-based language teaching (TBLT) curriculum development principles into the blended learning context, presenting processes and outcomes from a project to develop a task-based thematic unit — asking and giving directions — in a hybrid web-based university-level class focused on listening and speaking skills in Mandarin Chinese. The authors follow the principled task-based curriculum design phases informed by Long and Crookes (1993) and Long and Norris (2000). Unit-based development made the workload manageable and provided an important experimental space for the instructors to best align task-based principles with online language instruction. First, the context of the project and its theoretical TBLT curriculum development framework are established. The distinct processes of needs analysis, materials development, task sequencing and teaching methods, and assessment methods adopted to meet the special requirements of the class are presented, along with a preliminary formative and summative evaluation of the teaching model. The conclusion discusses the theoretical and practical implications of the project.
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Theoretical Framework Of Tblt Curriculum Development Principles

TBLT is a principled language teaching, learning, and program development approach. It utilizes an analytical syllabus, in which learners are presented with authentic input from a real-world task (e.g., purchasing a ticket, finding directions, etc.) as a whole. The learners need to analyze the language themselves by connecting meaning, form, and context, and produce language similar to the input in a simulated authentic context. The learning process is facilitated by pedagogical tasks that are sequenced by task complexity, not by linguistic criteria (Long & Crookes, 1993). TBLT has been actively proposed due to the relative ineffectiveness of the traditional synthetic syllabus, or Type A syllabus, in which language forms are taught piecemeal to students in the belief that they can develop native-like mastery of the language structure or the function taught, even if they are arguably not ready to integrate the language forms taught into their interlanguage system (Long & Crookes, 1993).

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