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By Agus Khairi - Monday, July 25, 2016

Agus Khairi

In teaching and learning language many approaches are applied in order that the aim of the teaching and learning can be achieved in the classroom whether in formal and informal course. Approaches have important role in conducting teaching and learning to help teacher design how the classroom is designed to make students or learner can get what the teacher deliver to them. Each approach focus on who is the centre in teaching and learning process whether teacher centered or student centered.
Nowadays, teaching and learning applying approaches that give students chance to do activities more than teacher does in the classroom. Learners have role much in learning process so the teacher as facilitator provide the guidance to do activities and control during the process. This learner-centered approach have been applied since 1970s and more recently as Pica stated in Cook (2009, p. 75) “in the 1980s, Allwright (1984), Krashen and Terrell (1983), and Nunan (1989b) drew attention to learner-centred activities and materials.” Experts in language learning not only give attention to the activities but also the material given to the learners in order to support the activities are conducted in the learning process.
 Learner-centered not only as paradigm in language learning but in research also focus on leaner centered as Pica stated in Cook (2009, p. 75)“understanding and appreciating the learner’s role in the language learning process has been a recurring theme in language teaching methodology and language learning research over the past several decades.” In those decades teaching methodology continue to be developed and also researches are conducted to make learner-centered more appropriate in its application.
There are two major approaches are developed in that era where learner becomes centre of teaching and research. In 2006 and continue to the recent time learner-centered as theme in language teaching and learning still become debate and describing with the result that leaner-centered is used in content-based and task-based approaches where the students are engaged to their interests and goal in learning, but still in communicative and academic and professional frame work (Cook, 2009, p. 75). Those two approaches can be integrated in teaching, learning, and research and will be discussed further in this paper.     
In this discussion will be talked more about task-based and content-based approaches and its integrating and applying in teaching, learning, and research.
1.         Content-Based Approach
Content-based approach in language teaching and learning is well known as Content Based Instruction (CBI). In this instruction, focus on learning process is content that should be learned by the learners based on need stated in curriculum. Even the use of language is the final goal but it is not used as focused on instruction but as medium in the process. Language is used by the learner to discuss or learn the content given, not focus to learn the language. As Stoller (Pessoa, Hendry, Donato, Tucker, & Lee, 2007) stated  “Content-based instruction  is  intended  to  foster  the  integration  of  language  and  content,  viewing “language  as  a  medium  for  learning  content and content as a resource for learning and  improving  language”. It means that language is learned indirectly by the learners but will be learned toward the content of learning.
Content as input in language learning should be considered by the teacher in providing it when they conduct teaching and learning process. Content provided by the teacher should easy to understand and based on the learner need in term of age. This is in line with Omoto and Nyongesa (2013) “content  based  language  instruction  is  based  on  the  theory  that  language  acquisition  is  based  on  input  that  is meaningful  and  understandable  to  the  learners”. Furthermore Curtain (1995) as cited in (Hernandez, 2012) stated that  “second language acquisition  increases  with  content-based  language  instruction,  because  students learn  language  best  when  there  is  an  emphasis  on  relevant,  meaningful  content rather than on the language itself”. In this approach, contents are designed to make learner use language based on input provided by the teacher as stated before that language is medium to understand the content      
2.         Task-Based Approach
Task-based approach is one of approach is language teaching and learning that focus on students or learner-centered. The approach designs learning activities that encourage learners involve in task provided by the teacher. According to Powers (p. 73) “lessons are constructed according  to  the  language  required  to perform specific tasks rather than according to the aspects of language such as structures and  vocabulary.” It emphasis in how learners do the task and process to get the goal of learning language. Nunan (1989) argued as cited in Ellis (p. 79) that “in this kind of teaching the focus shifts from ‘the outcomes of instructioni. e. the linguistic knowledge or skills to be masteredtowards the ‘processes of learning’ i. e. what learners need to do in order to learn).” By conducting this approach, students will be able to achieve the objective through process that consists of skill in target language as curriculum goal applied in lesson design.
The following table develop by (Ellis, p. 80) will explain more about how to conduct task-based learning process:
Examples of options
A.  Pre-task
·         Framing the activity e. g. establishing the out come of the task)
·         Planning time
·         Doing a similar task
B.  During task
·         Time pressure
C.  Post-task
·         Number of participants
·         Learner report
·         Consciousness-raising
·         Repeat task
Seeing in the table above can concluded that it needs creativity of the teacher in design the process and providing the task that can engage learners into meaningful activities of learning. According to Powers (p. 73)  “students  interaction  during  the  tasks facilitates transfer of information they have previously learned and incorporates it with new  information  they  receive  as  they perform the task. When the students do the task they will get experience from the task like and acquiring the target language through it. Having real experience will make students more understand how to use target language in the communication. Furthermore, Powers (p. 73) suggests “the tasks chosen for a language lesson can be academic or non-academic in nature. So, in order to the students achieve the goal, the creativity of teacher is needed to design activities based on the real situation in the target language.   
3.         Input, Feedback and Production Processes that Inform Task Design
Teaching and learning process in classroom can not avoid learners’ error or mistake either vocabulary or grammatically. Teacher and classmates surely give correction in form of vocabulary supply to the leaner and rarely give linguistic feature supply to make correct answer. As Pica (2002) cited in Cook (2009, p. 79) has reveled “teachers and classmates are more likely to correct content, supply factual answers or explain vocabulary than correct, supply or explain linguistic forms and their functions.” It indicates that learners’ error viewed as ungrammatically error, that is why teacher give vocabulary supply, while grammar is important in using language.
 Giving correction to the learners in teaching and learning process called input. There are two kinds of input that provide by teacher and classmates, those are positive and negative evidence. According to Long (1996) as cited in Abolhasanpour and Jabbari (2014 p. 46) “there  are  two  types  of  input  in  SLA:  positive  evidence  and  negative  evidence.” Furthermore, Abolhasanpour and Jabbari (2014 p. 46) explain the two kinds of evidence;
“Positive evidence is a kind input that learners receive concerning the target language itself in a natural linguistic environment. While, In contrast, negative evidence provides information about what is not possible in  the  target  language  (Long,  1996;  White,  1990).  It  consists  of  information  about  the  impossibility  and ungrammaticality of a form or an utterance. It includes explanation, expansion, explicit grammar teaching and correction of wrong sequences or ungrammatical sentences.”

In giving input to the learners, teacher should consider to their input, whether positive or negative evidence. It is important because it influence to the process of learning. Especially in children or young learner, input should be given in grammatical form, not only vocabulary input. In other word, positive evidence are needed for young learner to develop their language because children tend to use grammatical input in language. In line with Finley (2012, p. 61) states that “in typical language development, children  tend  to  use  only  positive  evidence  to  learn  language.” Children learn language without comparing grammatical and ungrammatical rule, thus positive evidence is very important to the young learner in language teaching and learning process.
In providing negative evidence to the learner, teacher, classmates, and interlocutor can use request and recast. Request is used by reformulating what learners said before in order to get correct meaning. While, recast used by interlocutors by restating what possible meaning that they think what the leaner means. The following provides examples both Request and Recast.
Learner: My grass broken
Interlocutor: Your glasses? Are your glasses broken?
(Request with Reformulation, serving as a Prompt)
Learner: Yes, glasses
Learner: My grass broken
Interlocutor: Your glasses are broken.
(Cook, 2009, p. 80)

4.         Tasks as Instruments For Teaching, Learning and Research
Task has important role in teaching and learning process. Through the task teacher engages students to understand the target language easily and experience the authentic situation, especially for EFL Classroom. Task can be form in exercise and activities in the classroom and out classroom. According to Pica (2005, p. 341) “there are many types of tasks and many activities and exercises that are referred to as tasks.” Every activity that can engage students to understand the target language can be used as task for the learners in order the aim that stated in curriculum can be achieved.
There are three procedures in applying the task in the classroom. As explained by  J.  Willis  (1996)  and  Willis  and  Willis  (1987)  in Cook (2009, p. 82):
“the first phase consists of topic-oriented, input-rich pre-task activities, during which small  groups of students get ready for their main task, with teacher support. This is followed by a planning phase in which the groups carry out the task as well as draft and practice a report on their task work. In the third phase, the learners share their report with their classmates.”
Those are the phase in giving task to the learner in teaching and learning process in the classroom.
In research that focus on language teaching and learning, task is used as instrument to get data that will be analyzed in research process. When conducting research, task is used for both research and teaching in the classroom. Pica stated in Cook (2009, p. 82) that “tasks have had great and growing appeal to researchers as well.” Furthermore, Pica added that “task that used can be made by the researcher, teacher’s made, adapted from students’ textbook, scholarly publications, and professional references.”
As noted before that task very useful to engage students to understand target language feature as the aim of language teaching. But still, the task should considered as aid to the students and must be combine with appropriate content for the learner. As cited in Cook (2009, p. 84)
“Tasks designed to help learners prepare to meet the challenges of form and content  competence  should  be  based  on  content  that  contains  those  linguistic  features over which the learner already has some control, but needs to improve and has yet to master (Doughty and Williams, 1998; Lightbown, 1998). Such readiness for improvement or mastery can be gauged in two principal ways: by referring to developmental stage information, or by reviewing learner speech and writing and locating contexts of inconsistent form accuracy and suppliance.”

Content that related to the linguistic feature of target language can be deliver in some activities as task like jigsaw, Spot the Difference, and Grammar Communication.     
5.         Designing Language-Focused Tasks For The Content-Based Classroom
In order to achieve the goal of the language teaching and learning, task and content must be design as good as possible as integrating approach. Tasks have to be designed to help students easier and enjoy to learn and have to be supported by appropriate content. Designing and implementing the task focused on content-based can be done collaboratively by researcher and teacher. Then, this task is used to treat the students learning. But, the most important thing should be considered in making and designing the task is the consistent with the instructional curriculum and not intrusive to the  schedule  and  format  that students had come to expect (Cook, 2009, p. 85).
Moreover, content task should be authentic in order give students real experience based on the target language. This is aimed to enhance the task designed and make the task long-term use for teaching and research. In addition, tasks have to be integrated into curriculum text, topic, and assignment. Those are aimed to make the task focused on content based can be applied as well as possible in language teaching and learning, furthermore for research in education.    
6.         Focused Tasks: Design and Implementation for Teaching, Learning and  Research
Focused task design as a research has been conducted by adapting two courses that integrated content and language to help intermediate and advanced English language learners with their development and production of English articles, verb endings and modal forms. The latter research conducted by Pica in 2006 by giving passage in form of fill in the blank with the article the, a, and zero articles in plot summaries of film. There are three design task are used in the research, those are Spot the Difference, Jigsaw and Grammar Communication. In doing the task students are asked to work together by doing the grammar task given.
Spot the Difference task, for example, pairs of learners read and discussed the same original passage, and then each learner was given a version of the passage, with slight modifications to the articles or verbs in its sentences. The following task is the example of the task given to the students;
Other types of grammar focused tasks in this collection asked the learners to reorder sentences to match those of an original passage, (for Jigsaw), or fill in blanks to make the sentences complete (for Grammar Communication). All three types of tasks were effective in drawing the learners’ attention to the targeted forms and retaining them during text reconstruction over the short duration of the studies.
In a subsequent three-week study, Pica et al. (2007) compared the impact on SLA of three types of focused tasks, used in another content-based language course on contemporary American culture. The purpose of the study was to see if learners could  improve  their  ability  to  notice,  produce  or  build  knowledge  of  English articles as an outcome of their task participation over a three-week period. Through out  the  course,  intermediate-level  learners  read,  discussed  and  debated  the content of articles and essays on American culture from authentic newspapers, magazines and books.
The knowledge test was a passage level variation of a grammaticality judgement test in which the learners were asked to read versions of passages from their course textbook in which some of the sentences had been altered to include incorrect usage of articles. Findings revealed that the learners in each pair made weekly progress, but the Implicit and Explicit learners outperformed the Incidental and Control learners, particularly  on  noticing  and  knowledge.  The  Explicit  and  Incidental  learners appeared to be slightly better than the others on production. These findings were considered very tentative and limited in generalizability, due to the small number of learners in each task treatment and the brevity of treatment time (Cook, 2009) 
Language teaching, learning, and research nowadays focus on learner-centered in the activity. There are two approaches are familiar applied by teacher in classroom activity and researcher in conducting research, those are content-based approach and task-based approach. In content-based approach, language is medium that used by learners to discuss the authentic content given by the teacher in classroom activities. While in task-based approach, tasks are designed like real life happen in target language to involve the students in activity. So, the students get real experience from the activity provide by the teacher.
Some studies recently use integrating content based and task-based approach to conduct research in EFL studies. The researcher and teachers design and implement the task collaboratively by considering some aspects like long-term usage, appropriateness with curriculum etc. then, the finding reveals that there are progresses in each activity done by the learners. So, it can be concluded that integrating content-based and task-based approach in teaching, learning and research can improve students’ acquisition of target language.     


Abolhasanpour, F., & Jabbari, A. A. (2014 ). The Effect of Negative and Positive Evidence on Acquisition of Quantifiers by Iranian EFL International  Journal  of  English  Linguistics, 4(2), 17. doi:10.5539/ijel.v4n2p46
Cook, V. (Ed.) (2009). CONTEMPORARY APPLIED LINGUISTICS VOLUME 1: LANGUAGE TEACHING AND LEARNING. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.
Ellis, R. The Methodology of Task-Based Teaching. 23.
Finley, S. (2012). Th e R ole of Negative and Positive Evidence in Adult Phonological Learning. U. Penn Working Papers in Linguistics, 18(1), 10.
Omoto, M. P., & Nyongesa, W. J. (2013). Content- Based Instruction: A Study of Methods of Teaching and Learning English in Primary Schools in Butula District. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 4(5), 10.
Pessoa, S., Hendry, H., Donato, R., Tucker, G. R., & Lee, H. (2007). Content-Based Instruction in the Foreign Language Classroom: A Discourse Perspective. Foreign Language Annals, 40(1), 20.
Pica, T. (2005). Classroom Learning, Teaching, and Research: A Task-Based Perspective. The Modern Language Journal, 89(iii), 14.
Powers, D. Task-Based Instruction: From Concepts to the Classroom. 12.