Task-Based Language Teaching

Approaches for second language learning at an early age: the impact of a training course on the receptivity of pre‑service teachers of English to pedagogical innovation.

Post-doctoral research project Catarina Castro

Supervision: Professor Carlos Ceia; Professor António Lopes

NOVA Universiy of Lisbon/CETAPS/ Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia


In terms of second language acquisition research, there are both theoretical grounds and empirical evidence to support a belief that Task-Based Language Teaching (hereafter TBLT) is a pedagogical approach able to meet all the requirements for successful second language learning and acquisition, in a variety of contexts and among a range of learners (Ellis, 2017; Ellis & Shintani, 2014; Samuda et al, 2018), including younger learners (Van den Branden, 2006; Carless, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2012; Shintani, 2013, 2016). Nevertheless, despite the clear psycholinguistic rational for TBLT as well as several empirical evidence supporting the choice of tasks as the basis for second language teaching and learning, there have been few attempts to adopt this kind of approach in institutional contexts (East, 2017).

In this respect, a number of teacher factors have been found to challenge the adoption of TBLT, namely the fact that teachers inevitably bring their own beliefs and understandings about effective pedagogy with them into their own classrooms (Nunan, 2004; Phipps & Borg, 2007), or simply don’t know how to implement it (Adamson & Davison, 2003; Carless, 2009; Jeon, 2006).

Given that language teacher education can have a significant impact in ensuring high quality language teaching (Borg, 2003, 2006), this project seeks to explore the necessity (and possibility) of challenging (and changing) the methodological beliefs of pre-service teachers of English in primary education in Portugal as a result of critical reflexion on TBLT, by using quantitative and qualitative data, and devising, implementing and evaluating a training course that will take place at Nova University of Lisbon and University of Algarve.



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Borg, S. (2003). Teacher cognition in language teaching: A review of research on what language teachers think, know, believe, and do. Language Teaching, 36, 81-109.

Carless, D. (2003) Factors in the implementation of task-based teaching in primary schools. System, 31, 485-500.

Careless, D., 2002. Implementing Task-Based Learning with Young Learners. ELT Journal, 56(4), pp. 389-396.

Carless, D. (2004). Issues in teachers’ reinterpretation of a task-based innovation in primary schools. TESOL Quarterly, 38 (4), 639-662.

Carless, D. (2009). Revisiting the TBLT versus P-P-P debate: voices from Hong Kong. Asian Journal of English Language Teaching, 19, 49-66.

Carless, D. (2012). TBLT in EFL Settings Looking Back and Moving Forward. In A. Shehadeh & C. A. Coombe (Eds.), Task-Based Language Teaching in Foreign Language Contexts: Research and implementation (pp. 345-358). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

East, M. (2017). Research into practice: The task-based approach to instructed second language acquisition. Language Teaching, 50.3, 412-424.

Ellis, R., & N. Shintani (2014). Exploring language pedagogy through second language acquisition research. London: Routledge.

Ellis, R. (2017). Position paper: moving task-based language teaching forward. Language Teaching, 50.4, 507‑526.

Jeon, I. (2006). Teachers’ perceptions of task-based language teaching: with a focus on Korean secondary classroom practice. Asian EFL Journal, 8, 192-206.

Nunan, D. (2004). Task-based language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Phipps, S. & S. Borg (2007). Exploring the relationship between teachers’ beliefs and their classroom practice. The Teacher Trainer, 21.3, 17–19.

Samuda, V.; Van den Branden, K.; Bygate, M. (2018). Task-Based Language Teaching as Researched Pedagogy. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Shintani, N. (2016). Input-based tasks in foreign language instruction for young learners. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Shintani, N. (2013). The effect of focus on form and focus on forms instruction on the acquisition of productive knowledge of L2 vocabulary by young beginning-level. TESOL Quarterly, 47.1, 36-62.

Van den Branden, K. (2006). Task-based language education. Cambridge: Cambridge Applied Linguistics.