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Posted on Mar 10, 2014 in Featured, Tech Tips & How To's-Setting Up & Using Technology

Task Analysis- in the Target Language

How we know and love the organization CASLS (Center for Applied Second Language Studies) and in their awesome newsletter Julie Sykes, CASLS Director, writes about the Three Steps of Task Analysis. This frames a language task- a reading, listening, speaking or writing activity- for the learner to ensure that the learner understands what he or she just did. I know that sometimes I skip over this step because I’m in a hurry or just not mindful of it at the time.  Sometimes we think that Task Analysis can’t be done in the Target Language for students below the Intermediate levels.  BUT—I’ve figured out how to do it with beginners. Be creative and use lots of images, gestures, and minimal, but effective TL.  Here is how you can do the Three Steps of Task Analysis in the Target Language– even for novices.

1. Pre-Task Activities.
So, so important. This is Brain Activation Time to primer your learners’ target language bank. Ensure your students understand the language input- listening, reading, speaking, or writing– that you will present to them. Present vocabulary, phrases, verbs, and even content with:

  • images, dramatic presentation with gestures, target vocabulary or verbs embedded in short phrases that are 85% comprehensible, review of previous language or content, guided information gap speaking activities for partners using review language related to new material, teacher talk presenting the previously learned material with images.

2. Language Task. Make sure that this is useful, everyday target language with a COMMUNICATIVE PURPOSE.  Grammar description— for Intermediates and above– comes way later in 5 minute increments. :

listening to songs, directions, teacher descriptions, reading signs, websites, lists, stories, non-fiction readings, speaking to fellow students about daily topics, information gap activities, surveys, ASKING QUESTIONS, copying directions to a place, writing lists, writing short bullet points, labeling, jotting down ideas, writing summary-notes of readings.

3. Reflection/Assessment.

Formative-  or in the moment informal assessments– are best for Novices to Mid Intermediates. This can be done in the TL-

Simple TL forms and rubrics that the students can check off, simple checklists that partners can do together about the Task, Teacher writes her own feedback on the form filled out by student, more advanced students can write simple bullets or phrases describing their experience with the task. No matter how advanced the student, provide a framework of evaluation with a guided form.

Questions?  Let us know at


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