Communicative Tasks

Communication is "the process by which people exchange information or express their thoughts and feeling" Longman Dictionary (1995:266). Richards, J. and Schmidt, R. (2002) add that this kind of exchange happens between two or more persons  who take the roles of speaker or sender who transmits a message and a receiver whom this message is intended to.

Communicative tasks have been defined as tasks that "involve the learner in comprehending, manipulating, producing, or interacting in the target language while their attention is principally focused on meaning rather than form" (Nunan, C. 1989: 10). They contrast with other, more traditional language tasks that require learners to pay attention to specific linguistic properties (phonological, lexical, or grammatical) in order to learn them or to practise using them more accurately.

Nobuyoshi, J. and Ellis, R. (1993) say that communication tasks are important for both fluency and accuracy. They aid fluency by enabling learners to activate their linguistic knowledge for use in natural and spontaneous language, such as when taking part in a conversation. One way in which this is achieved is by developing strategic competence, defined by Canale (1983) cited in Nobuyoshi, J. and Ellis, R. (1993) as the verbal and non-verbal strategies used to compensate for breakdowns in communication and to enhance the effectiveness of communication. They contribute to accuracy by enabling learners to discover new linguistic forms during the course of communicating, and also by increasing their control over already-acquired forms.

It is important to encourage pupils to communicate and use the language in their real life. The most important opportunity to achieve this is by providing communicative tasks inside the classroom. They are the best way to improve the skill of speaking. Ur, P. (2002) suggests that we should be careful when we choose or create a speaking activity. She suggests characteristics of a successful speaking activity such as:
  1. Learners talk a lot. The successful speaking activity provides an opportunity for the pupils to have an enough time to talk. The teacher should reduce his talk and pauses.
  2. Participation is even. All pupils must have chances to talk. Teacher should help the weak pupils to participate in the speaking activity.
  3. Motivation is high. The successful speaking activity makes the pupils interested in the topic of the activity in order to make the learner eager to speak.
  4. Language is of an acceptable level.
(Ellis, 1982) adds that communication tasks have the following features:
  • There must be a communicative purpose.
  • There must be a focus on message rather than on the linguistic code.
  • There must be some kind of information gap.
  • There must be opportunity for negotiation when performing the task.
  • The participants must choose the resources - verbal and non-verbal - required for performing the task.

We can also divide the characteristics of a successful speaking task into four categories. They can evaluate and judge the effectiveness of a communicative task.
The first category involves the purposive characteristics. This appears when pupils use the language for a purpose which can be shown when they are motivated. To create a purpose, activity should be designed to meet learners' needs and target language structures and provides interaction, which guides pupils to have reason for speaking.

The second category focuses on the interactive characteristics. For example, when learners exchange information and match their language level to others. Learners apply speaking skills in real time conditions. Interaction appears when learners ask and answer questions, seek solution to problem and guess or predict.

Participative characteristics construct the third category of a successful speaking task that provides opportunities for each pupil to have a role within group and maximizes learners' participations. The task involves most pupils to talk and minimizes teacher's correction.

The fourth category involves the flaunt characteristics. The effective communicative task allows pupils to speak privately and spontaneously. It focuses on conveying effective meaning. Pupils are encouraged to use their own words and not interrupted by teacher who should ignore the grammatical mistakes and focuses on fluency rather than accuracy.
  • Cameron, L. (2001). Teaching Language to Young Learners. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Candlin, C. (1987) Towards Task-Based Language Learning. In Candlin, C. and D. Murphy (Eds.) Language Learning Tasks. Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Nunan, C. (1989) Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. Cambridge, CUP
  • Richards, J, C. and Schmidt, R. (2002). Dictionary Of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics. Harlow: Longman
  • Scott, W.A. and Ytreberg, L.H (1990). Teaching English To Children. Harlow: Longman
  • Ur, P. (1996) A Course In English Language Teaching. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Wray, D. and Medwell, J (1991). Literacy and language In The Primary Years. London: Routledge.

تم النشر بواسطة Abu Yumna Al-Shammakhi

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  1. Hi Abuyumna
    thnx 4 this article and I'm pleased to visit your site
    good luck

  2. Welcome Abdullah
    Thank you for visiting, I hope you find this site enjoyable
    Best wishes


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