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Second Language Acquisition and Task-Based Language Teaching by Mike Long

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Preface and Acknowledgments

Language teaching (LT) is notorious for methodological pendulum swings, amply documented in published histories of the field. Currently, “task-based” learning and teaching are increasingly fashionable, and many of the very same textbook writers and commercial publishers who made large sums of money out of the structural, notional, functional, topical, and lexical movements of the past 30 years are now repeating the performance with tasks. Most of what they are selling is task-based in name only, however. Miscellaneous “communication tasks” of various kinds, many not very communicative at all, and use of which pre-dates current ideas about task-based learning and teaching, have replaced exercises or activities, but, like their predecessors, are still used to deliver a pre-planned, overt or covert linguistic syllabus of one sort or another. Tasks are carriers of target structures and vocabulary items, in other words, not themselves the content of a genuine task syllabus. Their role lies in task-supported, not task-based, LT. Alternatively, such tasks figure as one strand in a so-called hybrid syllabus in textbooks whose authors and publishers claim to combine some or all of grammatical, lexical, notional, functional, topical, situational, and task syllabi under one visually attractive cover, seemingly untroubled by, or in some cases unaware of, their incompatible psycholinguistic underpinnings.

Such materials may or may not have merit, aside from their ...

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