I’ve been thinking a lot lately about curriculum. Six years ago, I started posting the curriculum units that I had created for my own, personal classroom use so that other teachers could use them, too. At first, I was just posting isolated activities and lesson plan outlines, and I eventually started formatting them and explaining activities better and…and…and. One thing led to another, and now there are a lot of people out there using my curricula. And you know what? If I’m being honest with you, that is really freaking scary. It’s one thing if I design my curricula poorly and my students suffer, but if I design my curricula poorly and other teachers’ students suffer…well that’s another thing altogether. I had great results with my students while using it, my students continued on to be successful language students in upper levels—but who’s to say that there’s not something better out there? Something more effective? Something that teachers should be using instead of my curricula?
I like ACTFL. I like the Proficiency Guidelines. I like the Can-Do Statements. And I like my curricula. I’ve sat down about a million times (okay, maybe like 10) to align my curricula with ACTFL’s Can-Do Statements. And it’s not that I haven’t finished it because I CAN’T DO it (ha, ha)…it’s just…it’s like apples and oranges. At the end of the same unit, students might be able to check off a can-do statement that ACTFL has listed as being a “novice low” task and another that is listed as an “intermediate high” task. They’re checking off tasks from diverse proficiency levels and diverse task types simultaneously. This tells me that my curricula have different objectives than one that is backward designed from the Can-Do Statements: any Can-Do tasks that are checked off by students using my curricula are done so incidentally. The eventual outcomes are the same, but the journey looks very different. One of the purposes for the creation of ACTFL’s Can-Do Statements was to provide learning targets for curriculum and unit design. Backward planning from Can-Do Statements should help teachers to develop “good” curricula. Creating these communicative goals—can-do tasks—ensures that teachers will need to use a communicative instructional approach, not lecturing on discreet grammar rules and shoving their students full of vocabulary lists. (I realize that there is a big conversation to be had right there about what a ‘communicative approach’ means, what it could mean, what it should mean, but I’ll ignore that for now.) To accomplish Can-Do tasks (I can say hello and goodbye to someone my own age, I can accept or reject an invitation to go somewhere, I can talk about my family history, etc.) at the end of a unit, students must practice communicating in the language during the unit—using the language in a context. This is a good thing! Since I already referred to my curricula and the Can-Do Statements as “apples and oranges”, does that mean that my curricula—or any CI curriculum, for that matter—are not “good”? Will they not produce students that are able to effectively communicate in the target language?
IN SEARCH OF DEFINITIONS AND DENOMINATIONS
I didn’t include this section in the first draft of this post, and I think this is the part that causes the most division. Let me try to describe the two kinds of teaching that I am going to be comparing in the rest of the post: “task-based” teaching and “text-based” teaching. Both are oriented toward proficiency: with ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines in mind, we plan instruction in a way that will allow students to communicate ever more proficiently—with ever increasing fluency. Therefore, both are also communicative. The end goal is to communicate in the target language. I like Bill VanPatten’s definition of communication as “the expression, interpretation, and/or negotiation of meaning in a context”. That is what we ALL do in class. We all aim to use 90%-ish target language in the class, because we want students to learn the target language, not learn ABOUT the target language. We ALL use comprehensible input, because both task-based and text-based teachers that attend to research know that language is acquired through comprehensible input, not through practice. And yet, differences remain…
TASK BASED TEACHING – Task-based teachers start their lesson planning from Can-Do tasks: what do I want students to be able to do at the end of this unit? How will they show that they can accomplish that task? What language will they need in order to accomplish it? How can I provide comprehensible input for them to acquire that language? How will they practice the task? What authentic resources can I use to help them prepare for the task? Task based teachers use texts—many texts—in their instruction and assessment, but only as they are needed to accomplish the task. The TASK is at the center of planning. Teachers that use task-based teaching often refer to themselves as “Proficiency Based Teachers”. This is totally cool with me, as long as we understand that using that name doesn’t mean that non-task-based teachers do NOT teach for proficiency. Nomenclature is problematic.
TEXT BASED TEACHING – Text-based teachers start their lesson planning from language. Many text-based teachers work from frequency dictionaries, others work from novels that were written based on frequency dictionaries, others argue that there is no need to start from a frequency dictionary at all because using language naturally will have the same effect, since the frequency dictionary is a report of the words that make up natural language use. I’m calling it text-based teaching because “language-based teaching” is confusing, perhaps ambiguous,, and teachers that fall into this category rely heavily on texts—whether written or auditory, both authentic and non-authentic—for their instruction. These teachers do not have a specific linguistic task in mind: the acquisition of the language is the goal. Since the assessments in this kind of teaching are text-based (having students read a text and answer questions about it, write a story or response to a question, listen to a selection and translate it, etc.), I guess that’s why I am calling it text-based teaching. Teachers that use text-based teaching often refer to themselves as “Comprehensible Input Teachers”. This is totally cool with me, too, as long as we understand that using that name doesn’t mean that non-text-based teachers do NOT teach with comprehensible input. Once again, nomenclature is problematic.
“Are you a proficiency based teacher or a comprehensible input teacher?”
“I’m both, dagnabbit!” There certainly has been a lot of conflict in the ranks over the years, and I consider myself to be part of the movement that is asking, “Can’t we all just get along?” All teachers that are striving to do better and be better are moving in the same general direction and doing the same kinds of things—yet differences remain! My husband, Matt, and me have tried all the same beers but at the end of the day, he prefers malty and I prefer hoppy. I still sip his beer and he still sips mine, and we are happily married. But we will almost always order something different. It’s okay to teach differently and it’s okay to grapple with differences as long as we are coming from a place of love and respect. I hope you know that I am! I don’t think it does us any good, though, to pretend that we are all doing the same thing. We aren’t! We are all teaching language in the way that we believe to be most effective in our particular situation. And as more and more teachers are moving away from “legacy methods” (oh boy, there’s a complicated term for ya!) and trying to find their way in the new proficiency-based, comprehensible-input-driven world of language teaching, it helps us communicate better and more efficiently about diverse practices if we can categorize teaching styles.
Back to the curriculum reflection….
WHAT AM I PREPARING THEM FOR??
As I’ve been mulling this over, one question stood out in my mind: What exactly is it that I am preparing my students for?
At best, they might spend a week in the target culture on a school trip in a couple years, when they’re in Level 3 or 4 or AP. Maybe they’ll live abroad as a Rotary Exchange Student as a junior or senior, or maybe they’ll study abroad in college. Maybe they’ll run into a family that only speaks Spanish—no English—in their after school job. But, realistically, my students that are in Spanish 1 or Spanish 2 will not need to be accomplishing tasks in the target language for some time—probably not during the time that they are in my classes, and certainly not extensively. In upper levels, I think it could be fair to say that you are preparing students to communicate in all modes in the real world, but I don’t think that’s true in lower levels. Realistically, I am preparing my Novice students to be Spanish students in subsequent levels. In a dream world, I am preparing them to be life-long learners of Spanish—that’s the dream, anyway!
I feel a slight sense of revulsion when I read that statement. It feels like the idea of making kindergarteners do homework so they get used to doing homework so they can do homework forever because doing homework is so important. I hate that idea, but I think that preparing my students to continue to be students of Spanish is different. Am I delusional? I don’t mean that I am trying to teach them “Spanish class survival skills”, like “how to most effectively memorize verb charts” or “how to pass an IPA”; I mean that I am trying to place them on a language trajectory and keep moving them along it so that they are able to continue that trajectory in their next courses or in life. I am preparing my Novice students to become more proficient later in life in the same way that I am preparing my children to communicate better tomorrow than they did today.
If it is true that I am preparing my Novice students to be Spanish students in subsequent levels—not to communicate in all modes in the real world—then I don’t think it makes sense to backward design my lower level curricula from discreet Can-Do tasks. I think that it makes sense to backward design my curricula from the building blocks of language, the high frequency structures that will create a foundation for my students to one day be able to successfully communicate in all modes in the real world. I’m saying this because I’ve been there; I’ve been in language classes, and I want to find a way for my students to communicate more successfully than I could when I headed off to my first real-world Spanish experience—a semester in Spain after SIX AND A HALF YEARS of studying Spanish!
Think about it: how do we determine which structures in a language are “high frequency structures”? We take all of the real life tasks—the authentic tasks—that people are accomplishing every day, we squish them together, and we tally how many times each word is used across all of those tasks. So wouldn’t it be more efficient to design a curriculum from the language required to accomplish collective tasks than from the language required to accomplish a specific set of tasks? Doesn’t it just make sense to backward plan from high frequency structures (starting with structures from Terry Waltz’s Super 7 and Mike Peto’s Sweet 16) that will allow students to accomplish a range of tasks with just one or two new variables each time?
If I am backward designing from high frequency structures—which, by the way, I am—then the question is not “How can I prepare my students to accomplish this task?” but rather “How can I get my students to acquire this structure?”. The answer is always “THROUGH COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT”—through comprehensible texts, whether written or auditory. For that reason, my curricula become text-based, because through the interpretation of diverse texts, my students produce texts of their own—both written and oral, individual and interpersonal. The production, however—is incidental; it is the natural result of the successful interpretation of input. You know, the old “overflow” analogy: input is like pouring water into a glass, and eventually the glass is so full of water (input) that it starts spilling over the sides (output). It just happens!
I don’t mean to say that the goal of a task-based curriculum is not for students to acquire structures; certainly, in order to accomplish tasks, they must! Task-based teachers teach for proficiency, just as text-based teachers do. Both of our students acquire language and both of our students can accomplish tasks with that language. However, we have different approaches that result in the acquisition of different kinds of language and ultimately a different kind of acquisition.
Being able to check off Can-Do tasks is a great way to ensure that our instruction results in the ability to communicate; it ensures that proficiency is the goal. Ultimately, this is the most important thing. And for that reason, I think that task-based teaching has become synonymous with proficiency based teaching. Text based programs, those used by “CI Teachers” also produce students that are able to communicate in the target language with ever-increasing language proficiency. For that reason, I believe that text-based programs are also both communicative and proficiency based.
TEXT OR TASK, WHICH WAY TO GO?
The choice to use a text-based or a task-based curriculum will affect many aspects of your teaching. Both text-based and task-based curricula are student centered, have proficiency as the goal, and encourage teachers to teach in the target language, and those things are ultimately most important. The choice will affect the activities that you use in class. It will affect the kinds of assessments that you administer. It will affect the resources that you select and what you do with them. It will affect the content that you cover. Ultimately, I decided that a text-based curriculum in Levels 1 and 2 was the best fit for me and for my students. I love that backward designing from high frequency structures has allowed me to design a curriculum that is both relational and culturally rich. From the first week of class, I am able to talk to my students about what is going on in their lives and in the world in the target language because we have the building blocks of all communication—high frequency structures—at our disposal. We can understand texts instead of just survive them. Gosh, I wish that I had been able to do that when I was in my first Spanish literature course! Can you even imagine what I would have been able to do if I had been reading in the target language for the SIX YEARS that I spent in Spanish classes before I got there?? Dang, I could have been amazing!!!!
Ultimately, I think that using a text based curriculum at the novice level will produce students that can accomplish more tasks, more profoundly in the upper levels than will a task-based novice curriculum. That is why I stand behind the curricula that I have developed. That’s not to say that a task based curriculum can’t also be wonderful, so please don’t think I’m slamming you for not going text-based like me. Y’all are fabulous and great teachers to boot; many of you have read a lot more research than I have and taught for much longer than I did—but I’d be crazy to teach in a way that I DON’T believe to be best practice! I reserve the right to be wrong, and you are welcome to attempt to convert me. Just be nice!
20 replies on “Task or Text: which is best?”
Holy cow! What a nice breakdown between two approaches. What a friendly, non-judgemental way to discuss both approaches! As someone who has really struggled with how to use ACTFL Can-do statements to plan for novice learners, it’s nice to hear someone else try to parse out what’s important. I also feel like I have some language to discuss my choice to be a text-based teacher.
One thing though, Martina: my novice and intermediate-low kids are being incredibly successful with your curriculum and moving on to high school with a broad language knowledge and ability to actually use their Spanish. So, your curriculum is effective. I am still just scratching the surface with how to teach it and I know I have lots to learn…but it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, and it’s making my life and teaching immeasurably easier and full of joy. Don’t discount the work that you have done!
Hey Martina, I tweeted some Qs at you but thought I’d comment a question here as well. I’m primarily concerned with the blue section of your graphic, and very, very concerned. Can you elaborate on why you needed to so strongly imply that proficiency-based teachers are not using comprehensible input as they guide students to accomplish the tasks that are their language targets? I also question the label of “broad and shallow input” as the vast majority of proficiency-based teachers I know are slashing vocabulary and the number of tasks students are realistically expected to accomplish, whereas teachers who are textbook-based (not usually considered a proficiency based approach) present students with vast amounts of lists and grammatical features to be “mastered.” I rather think the paradigm is better viewed as proficiency-based (language taught to be used, not to be analyzed) and not proficiency-based (language taught to be analyzed in bits). In other words, the classic focus on formS vs. focus on form. There’s just been so much division among our peers lately I’m concerned presenting such a strong implication that proficiency-based teaching is NOT comprehensible input teaching will further the division.
(I’m writing up a response to this but keep getting interrupted by kids–totally a valid concern and I apologize for being divisive!)
I really enjoyed reading your inner discussion here Martina thank you for your honest look at these different approaches. I think I share your ideas and feelings about the need for a text based curriculum and how it can prepare students for real fluency and literacy. I always questioned the value of making class about games and task based activities that make the real use of language play second fiddle to the instructions of a silly little game that teaches one minute grammar feature.
To me as a learner of Spanish, I needed task based learning. Otherwise I didn’t have the why of taking and learning Spanish. When I was memorizing words and conjugating verbs, I didn’t put in the effort because it felt like a drill rather than a useful skill that I could apply at that moment. If students aren’t hooked at the early level and see how it can beneficial to their lives now, they might not continue to the upper levels. I wish I was better at conjugating verbs, but I love that I have functional phrases I can use in different situations.
I think I need to clarify what I mean by text-based teaching, too, because I don’t mean textbook-based teaching. I agree that students are motivated when they see that they are able to accomplish tasks!
Not sure what you mean by “text-based curriculum”. If I take that to mean grounding a unit and its learning targets (usually different from simple Can Do statements) on a reading selection, article, or book, that seems to conflict with basing unit or course learning goals on high frequency grammatical structures and high frequency verbs, and I am confused. Maybe more clarity or a definition of what you mean by “text-based”? Based on my understanding of TBLT, I’m not sure that the objective for TBLT is accurately depicted in the graphic.
Thanks Greta, I am thinking through all of these comments and will be working up a new draft of the post!
Very interesting post. I consider my approach to be a mix, using CI, some TPRS, authres, along with “can do’s” and proficiency guidelines. Basically using all the different parts to create my curriculum. I have found great ideas from so many different places, I can’t just adopt one or another! And of course, it is all trial and error.
I’m glad to see so much focus lately on finding common ground. I was an avid part of #langchat a few years ago when transitioning away from the textbook. I quit the group because I often felt attacked (by a small number of folks to be sure) for not being 100% of whichever method. It got ugly sometimes – and I often left the chat feeling like a total failure. It was discouraging and I felt totally alone. However, I’ve checked in from time to time and I feel like the atmosphere is changing. I understand that there is still dissent, and there might always be, but I also feel like more people are challenging the “My way or the highway” attitude and trying to get people to find common ground. I really feel people have more in common than they think!
I always find that my favorite “teacher blogs” challenge me in new ways, to think about things I haven’t yet considered in a supportive way, and for that I appreciate a variety of voices.
TJ, on behalf of the #langchat moderators I want to say how deeply sorry I am that you felt discouraged and alone and attacked on the forum. #Langchat can be a messy medium and for many of us it’s been a tough journey to try to figure out how to make 140 impersonal characters stay professional and friendly while challenging our own thinking and inviting others to do the same. If you felt discouraged and alone, then it’s #langchat that was the total failure and not you, because the goal in starting the community was exactly the opposite. I am glad you feel there is more push to find common ground now, and I agree; the vast majority of #langchat teachers have been participating in many good conversations on what ought to be the common ground and how the dichotomies aren’t really working for us and are perhaps false anyway. Please let us know if we can be of any help and if you have any suggestions on how the #langchat community can continue to be a positive place to grow. Remember that no one “owns” #langchat and it is a community whose tone is determined by its participants so add your voice and push us farther from the failure we were to you.
Sara-Elizabeth – No need to apologize (although I really appreciate the sentiment!)! You and many others have always been so supportive and helpful on #langchat and beyond (your blog started me on the path away from the textbook some five years ago). There were a few, for lack of a better term, bad apples, who’s attitudes and criticisms were difficult for someone just starting out, and completely alone ideologically in their school/district. Social media is such a double edged sword – so much potential for finding and collaborating with other folks from all around the globe, but also so much potential for negativity and hurt feelings. I think you guys have done an excellent job – especially working within the constraints of the medium. In the handful of chats I’ve watched in the past two years I have noticed quite a difference – no more fights or criticisms (or at least not that I’ve seen). I think that as a group – it is moving in the right direction and I look forward to participating in more chats (as my toddler allows ;). Again, your words really do mean a lot. Perhaps I had too thin of skin – but I was coming from a place of a total outsider who was swimming against the current of my department (and still am…) and then bumping into other critical voices (from the opposite side) online. Now, I feel more confident in my knowledge and practice and am glad to rejoin the conversation.
Thanks again for all you do
Reading this really prompted me to think about what I do as a teacher and some of the reasons why my students might not be doing as well on assessments as I would like I think I tend to teach in a text-based way, but I tend to assess based on the Can-Do statements or in a more task-based manner. Maybe I need to consider aligning my teaching and assessment methods more along the two paths you described.
It seems like this post prompted a lot of comments/conversations on Twitter. I have to agree with Thomas Sauer who said, “I’d rather talk about practices than labels”. Even though I see clearly where you’re coming from, leaving the “XYZ teacher” labels out of it would serve best our still very divided community. I get the “task vs text” concept of curriculum and teaching, but their purpose is the same – develop confident USERS of target language. If both have proved to be successful in one way or another, wouldn’t it be best if we used both in our teaching – text and task? This way, any shortcomings of one of the methods can be fulfilled by another because we all know, there’s no magic bullet and the more varied is our approach/practice the better chance we have at equipping our students with skills necessary to continue with language learning after our class is over.
I will leave you with a personal story. My children are heritage speakers of Russian. I am the only “daily dose” of Russian they get and since I am human, that dose is not always as full as I would like it to be. However, my youngest is fully capable at 7 years of age to maintain a simple conversation in Russian on any range of his daily relevant topics: What do we have for lunch? When are we leaving? What shoes should I wear? Why do I have to go to bed now? etc. Try asking him what his name is. He’ll have to think about your question. Why? No one ever asked him this question. EVERY Russian speaker that he ever encountered knew his name. Everyone also knows how old he is and where he lives. He doesn’t hear much these questions either. Unless we specifically read and discuss the story that uses these structures and/or play a “task game” where he has to focus on these basic “Can-Dos” he will not know what to tell the kid on the playground. And you have to agree, these are pretty important basic phrases that can make or break the outcome of that playground conversation for him – he gets a playmate or he does not. So what is his mother to do? I think I’ll work on helping him eliminate this deficiency by doing some disguised but targeted input-output practice. And when he Can-Do it, I’ll let Sara-Elizabeth decide if it was learned or acquired 🙂
this was a good read for me. I saw the twitter questions going and put reading your post off until today, so it appears that you’ve already clarified quite a bit. I like your interpretations of the two and agree that they need to mesh. Sometimes, as I push authres and 90+%, I find my CI guiding over my can-do. I think that our classroom dialogue in the TL is rich as we work towards proficiency based on the authres.
About the situation of the son needing to learn structures he doesn’t need on a daily basis…I am thinking that situation brings up more the issue of “targeted” v “non-targeted” vocabulary than a face-off between text-based and task-based as Martina has described them. Yes, there are tasks a teacher could use to focus on these Can-Dos; however there are also ways to incorporate this learning by use of texts in a classroom that is more “text-based”.
I would agree that this situation is a great argument for the use of targeted vocabulary at least some of the time in the classroom, where it seems to be it is impossible for language to be 100% natural simply by the fact that 55 minutes four times a week in a classroom setting with the same group of people is just not a “natural” situation.
Hi there! Wow! This post has generated so much discussion both here and on Twitter. I feel lucky to get a peek at the thoughts of the WL community’s best and brightest as this is something that I’ve went back and forth over for the past year now. I am one of the teachers who you mention using your curricula. About a year or so ago I wrote asking you if there was a way to align your curricula to ACTFL’s Can-Do statements because I had struggled with doing so myself. I’m in my third year of teaching and I feel like I hover back and forth between text-based and task-based teaching styles, and feel there are pros and cons to each method.
My first year of teaching was a hodge-podge of everything and anything. At the time I was taking ACTFL’s methods course (through Weber State), and I found your curriculum over the summer. To me it felt that it best reflected the comprehensible input styles advocated by Weber State, so that fall I began teaching using your curriculum. I loved it! Students loved it! My administrator loved it! However…it was difficult to align to the state standards (which were developed with ACTFLs Can-Do statements in mind). This also made it difficult to reconcile with our state’s program review. While I could easily document that we were using the target language at or near 90% of the time, I had a harder time documenting that what I was doing was vertically aligned with state (and national) standards, which caused me to question continuing using the curriculum even though my students and I truly loved it.
For my third year, I decided to return to a more task-based approach, using the unit overviews developed by JCPS in Kentucky. (I had also used these my first year, but without a lot of comprehensible input support as I was brand new to teaching and didn’t have a grasp on it yet). These were obviously aligned with state and national standards/Can-Dos, theoretically making alignment to program review easier. Having used your curriculum for one year I felt like I could incorporate TCI methods into a task-based approach and I have tried my best to do so.
So, my reflection after two years of using different approaches? Both approaches grew my students’ proficiency, which I attribute to the use of total comprehensible input methods. Task or text-based, both approaches incorporate TCI strategies.
Using text-based, my students seemed more motivated and engaged, and able to stay in TL for longer periods of time without getting frustrated. The use of high-frequency vocabulary made a variety of texts accessible to them. It also seems to me that their proficiency in writing increased much more rapidly than my students from this year who were taught using a task-based approach.
However, some of my students in Spanish 1B this year (sixty of whom had me for Spanish 1A last year, using your curriculum) told me that they preferred this year’s task-based style because they felt they could do more with the language, not “just tell stories” (their words). Our entire school encourages the use of unit-overviews with student friendly can-do statements. I think my students felt comfortable with this format because each lesson had an intended direction. Using the Somos curriculum, I sometimes struggled to come up with a daily learning target beyond “I can understand vocabulary as it is used in context.” The only students who really made these sorts of comments were high-achieving students, who I feel like to measure their success in terms of measurable objectives, hence their preference for explicit learning targets based on Can-Do statements.
However, using a task-based curriculum, my lower-ability students are not nearly as engaged as last year and many have “checked out.” Now, it could be a matter of different students, but I felt like your curriculum worked so well to help engaged learners and especially helped build literacy among students who really struggled. Your curriculum also went over well with my year 2A/B students. I’ve struggled getting them to willingly participate in the TL all year long (they had traditional instruction up until me). However, I decided to start the “Celebrations” unit from JCPS with your Semana Santa unit. They loved it. One even told me that he liked how much more interactive the class felt during that week.
From a teacher standpoint, I personally enjoyed teaching your curriculum more than the task-based curriculum. I felt it was easier for me to stay in the TL without “going out of bounds” into vocabulary that students hadn’t acquired (perhaps this is just me needing more practice). I also liked that vocabulary was continuously recycled from unit to unit, something that I don’t feel task-based curriculums do quite as well. I also felt that even with paring down the vocabulary lists in a task-based unit, some students were still overwhelmed. It was also difficult for me to write interpretive assessments because of the variety of vocabulary that students sled-selected to accomplish the unit tasks.
I also found the Somos curriculum easier to use in order to discuss and talk about culture in L2. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that task-based teachers only discuss culture only in L1, but I do think it’s more of a challenge at the novice level for sure. Also, for me personally, I found that finding and curating resources for a task-based curriculum takes me so long–to the point that I burned out very early on last semester. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong…but it was exhausting, especially teaching three levels at once.
So where do I go from here? I found more joy in teaching text-based curriculum. I feel like more parents commented on how much their children enjoyed my class, they were impressed with how much their child could understand and also write. I feel that I only made the switch to comply with program review–which, depending on our lawmakers, may be a thing of the past come next year. At my current school, I can’t make a complete switch back to Somos (we have to use common assessments for each level) so if I stay here I’ll continue using a task-based curriculum. I do have an opportunity to move to a new district, where I would be the only language teacher, which leaves me the option to choose between the two. Right now, I’m not sure which direction I’ll go in–I need the summer to reflect on what’s best for the students I’ll be teaching.
I am RIGHT there with you. Sometimes I feel like text-based gets better results – especially from the kids who struggle with language – but the alignment issue is tough. I also feel like I am more aligned with Common Core when using task-based – but maybe that’s just me? I enjoy the connection my sts have with authentic resources and current events when I teach more task-based (not to say text-based doesn’t have this – just when I am trying to create curriculum it doesn’t lend itself as much). I also base my plans on the JCPS units but add in some TPRS novels – which I like but sometimes I feel disjointed using multiple methods.
And I 100% agree with you that finding and curating resources for task-based curriculum was ALL CONSUMING. I felt like all I did was surf the internet looking for something that fit my unit and then adapt/create activities for it. Only to use the material and wonder how I could find something that worked better! It is exhausting and frustrating and sometimes makes me wish for a textbook to tell me what to do (although I know that there is no going back for me :).
I feel like I reinvent the wheel every year and that is unsustainable (especially with small children). I too will be spending my summer trying to pin down a direction – and it will most likely be a hybrid of task and text. I honestly think that a common ground can be found between the various methods – which all have their merits. I love hearing the different voices from across the methodologies and borrowing good ideas where I find them. Without the online world language community and all our combined knowledge and experiences, I know that I wouldn’t be half the teacher I am today.
I am in a similar situation. I started with a textbook base and have tried to work through different methods. The task-based methods are definitely easier to measure, quantify and report on for administrators and parents. I feel like my students learn more and can do more in Spanish through the text-based methods, but I don’t know how to make it concrete through ‘mastery objectives’ and percentage points.