Due to the demands of communicative ability for students, communicative language teaching (CLT) which takes communicative competence as the goal of language teaching experienced rapid growth within teaching paradigm. In CLT, Pedagogical tasks are adopted due to the belief that activities that involve real communication promote learning (Nunan, 2002). Communicative competence of learners can be developed through the task implement. The use of tasks is different among two versions of CLT, namely, a strong version and a weak one. The weak version represented by PPP method is task-referenced but focus on the form of language and do not encourage much language use (Willis, 2007). The limitation of weak form prompts the strong version, namely, Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) which means ‘a teaching approach using tasks as the essential unit of planning and instruction in language teaching’ (Richards and Rodgers, 2005:223). The significance of the task has been acknowledged not only in CLT but also in many fields. Nunan (2004) points out the concept of ‘task’ values in syllabus design, classroom teaching and learner assessment. But problems occur, teachers need to design the tasks and assess the performance of students in CLT. In this essay, the basic meaning and characteristics of the task and the structure of the task will be explained first and some principals for task design and task assessment will be studied in the following section.
There is no completely agreement about the definition of the task. Scholars elaborate the definition from various perspectives. Task can be classified according to various taxonomies. Scholars like Long (1985), Breen (1987), Prabhu (1987), Crookes (1986), Nunan (1989), Skehan and Swain (2001) defines the concept of ‘task’ based on their understanding. Reviewing those definitions, there are similarities in those definition they made while there are also diversities among definition. By analyzing those definitions, some main features of the task can be made and the comprehensive meaning of pedagogical task can be understood.
2.1 Definition and Characteristics
Although various definitions exist, scholars reach consensus on some aspects. First of all, a task should be an activity performed by language leaner to achieve an objective. Tasks are designed with specific purposes. In other words, tasks are meaningful. Crooks (1986) illustrates that a task is ‘a piece of work or an activity, usually with a specified objectivity ’. Another agreement among scholars is that an outcome is expected after the enforcement of the task. Prabhu (1987) asserts that a task is ‘an activity which require learner to arrive at an outcome’. Students will give a presentation to complete the task. Teachers can therefore assess students and provide feedback. Moreover, the aim of the task is indisputable. Tasks are designed to foster the ability of language learners, especially communicative competence. Bygate, Skehan, and Swan (2001) stress the use of language, namely, the speaking skill. A task can combine oral and written activities according to Long (1985).In the classroom teaching, tasks are mainly about oral activities but can combine with reading or writing activities. Therefore, any of the four language skills can be involved in a task but mainly the speaking skill. Meanwhile, those definitions demonstrate authenticity which means tasks need to have links to real-world activities. Tasks as the teaching activity make language learners prepare for the use of language in real situation. Examples like buying clothes and booking a hotel clearly display the relationship with the real life. However, some tasks like describing a picture and telling stories do not demonstrate the distinct relationship to real life. Actually, Skehan (1996a) elaborates that ‘there is some sort of relationship to the