Option 1: Focus on forms

Option 2: Focus on meaning

Option 3: Focus on form

Task-Based Language Teaching

Some useful sources on focus on form

Focus on form in Task-Based Language Teaching
Michael H. Long
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Focus on form in Task-Based Language Teaching

The absence of either a widely accepted theory of language learning or a solid empirical base for classroom practice has rendered language teaching vulnerable to some drastic pendulum swings of fashion over the years, the coming and going of various unconventional and unlamented "Wonder Methods" being an obvious example. This has even been true with respect to perhaps the most basic question of all, and one which inevitably affects the way a course designer approaches the thorny issue of grammar in the communicative classroom: Is teaching a new language more successful when the main focus is the L2 as object or the L2 as a medium of communication while students are learning something else, like the history, culture, or geography of a society where the L2 is spoken? Histories of language teaching (e.g., Howatt, 1984; Musumechi, 1997) show that this debate, like so many others in the field, has been continuing for centuries. In this brief paper, I will attempt to do three things: (1) point out some limitations of both these approaches, (2) describe a third option - focus on form - which deals with the L2 as object, including grammar, but within an otherwise communicative classroom, and (3) illustrate the role focus on form plays in one kind of communicative program: Task-Based Language Teaching.

Simplifying somewhat, Figure 1 illustrates what I see as three basic options for L2 course design in general, and for teaching grammar in particular: focus on forms (with an s), focus on meaning, and focus on form.

Figure 1

Options in Language Teaching
Option 2 Option 3 Option 1
analytic analytic synthetic
focus on meaning focus on form Focus on formS

Natural Approach TBLT GT, ALM, Silent Way, TPR
Immersion Content-BasedLT(?)  
Procedural Syllabus Process Syllabus(?) Structural/N-F Syllabuses
etc. etc. etc.

Contact Us | Search | Home

Copyright ©1997 The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved. Any use is subject to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy
For further information about this site contact mhhe_webmaster@mcgraw-hill.com. McGraw-Hill Higher Education is one of the many fine businesses of The McGraw-Hill Companies.
Corprate Link