Carrying Out the Task-Based (Project-Based) Learning Activities in Language Teaching and Learning Activities at SMAN 92 Jakarta
Oleh: Herri Mulyono
I do believe that students’ successful language learning is determined on how far students are able to use the target language to communicate their ideas, opinion or thoughts to other people. It of course can also be viewed on certain ways students make use the language appropriately regarding to condition, situation and context they are experiencing. When this believe is taken as primary objective of teaching and learning in to the practice of teaching and learning activities, then, providing certain instructions, media, materials, and other learning facilities are about teacher to cover. Task-based learning activities have shown in obvious as sustaining procedures for the communicative approach to practice. Their materials are designed intentionally to provide more chances for students to use the target language in acceptable utterance. This article would report the practice of task-based learning in process of English teaching and learning at SMAN 92 Jakarta. The report will define firstly of what I mean by task-based learning activities (that in many occurrences I mention it as project-based learning by which all my students are familiar with such term). Then, I would examine the activities on the basis of communicative approach and put final conclusion on the practice of task-based or project-based learning.
What I mean by task-based learning (project-based learning)
Task-based learning is simply viewed as learning activities which is directed by certain piece of work. It is when students are assigned to do particular work during classroom learning activities. The tasks or works which are assigned of course have already designed to cover communication purposes. Within the scope of communicative approach, the task-based learning is carried out in certain task-based learning which is mostly in form of games, role plays, simulations, or other jigsaws. These activities are mostly conducted in classroom or might be classified indoor activities.
Instead of similar understanding on task-based learning, I have broader view on how the task-based learning is implemented in teaching and learning process besides of course, my design would be mostly outdoor activities. The objective of the task-based learning (that is carried out in English projects) is not only proposed for certain communication competence but also the development of self-confidence, cooperative learning where students are assigned to work together, and creativity. In developing the self-confidence, students are assigned for certain activities that they have to do and record it. The recording later is watched by all students in classroom. Some activities, for instance, are singing, interviewing, TV news reader and etc. In addition, in some English project, number of students is called out to perform an English mission. This means the English project is done in group – or most my students know it as group project. Some group English projects my students have already experienced were drama, music contest, short movie, and short video clip. Furthermore, in large scale, all students in the classroom are asked to complete on activity only. Of course it might a big job for the students where they not only have to think of the project itself but also to divide themselves into group with a single purpose. In such project, cooperative learning is surely put as main attention.
Let me have an example of my short video clip as of English projects the students have ever experienced. This sort of project is assigned to the students of XI grade social and science program after they have learned about simple tenses. Firstly, students were informed that they had to find out simple sentences in songs and also asked to investigate what was the message lyrics might convey. Secondly, students were to divide themselves into group that in first stage this project was intended as group English project. In selecting group member students were to concern to the ability of each group member to perform music and English of course. They also have to find a member who can make recording to their performance and transfer it into CD. For the project context, students are free to decide type of song, music and setting for their own video clip.
After the video clip making process have already done, there were about 6 CDs containing about 21 video clips. Those video clips were played in the class where students could see what they had performed. Of course, laughs, shouts, and applause appeared in this occasion. Students then could see strong points and weak points from their performance and were supposed to fix it.
The group project then moved to class project, those video clips were then compiled. In this class project students were asked to single album and made album promotion. Students were once more asked to make divide themselves into five groups. The first group had to be responsible for Banner while the second group dealt with poster and pamphlet. The third group was to design brochure, the fourth was for the CD cover and the last was to market the album to foreigner (they were supposed to sell only one CD and asked to record the process of marketing, – of course it could be argued that marketing and selling product was not too significant in language learning, however, I intended wider to cover the language functions).
In the practice of task-based learning for the sample of short video clip project, I integrated many methods that solely cannot be argued as communicative approach. Firstly, I recalled the preconditions of language acquisition, the task-based learning under my design is to cover the four preconditions; universal grammar, environment, opportunities and social being. Through the project, students experience the real application of their knowledge in appropriate environment where the target language is exposed (firstly, the exposure of target language in form of song, and secondly, the native speaker of English when they promote the album). The project gave chance for the students to perform language in two ways; singing, interviewing, and expressing ideas and creativity on CDs, pamphlet, brochure, poster and banner as well. With the presence of cooperative learning, students were put into social environment where the language is truly employed to communicate ideas.
Humanistic approach is also obvious in its correspondence with affective filter in language learning. The English project as the practice of task-based learning is widely open for the interference of feeling. It is of course intended to provide enjoyable learning atmosphere. Besides, Suggestopedia also appears in making suggestion if the students were famous group band and had their album promoted to foreign English speaker. Concerning to the natural approach which views that language has to acquire in naturalistic way, the practice of total physical response is apparent when students are to perform the language with physical translation. Combining the two language knowledge and action as performance of students’ knowledge would be other alternative to improve students’ language competence. In communicative view, the English project is aimed at communicative competence and put meaning as the important thing where contextualization is a basic premise (Finocchiarro and Brumfit, 1983 in Richards and Rodgers, 1986: 67).
In viewing a task-based learning simply as learning activities which is directed by certain piece of work then there is consequence for teacher to provide learning materials which convey such necessity of learning instruction. I believe that students could acquire the language better if some tasks have already designed by teacher could be assigned to the students concerning to three aspects; the cognitive, affective and psychomotor. I mean that those three aspects have to be performed in task-based materials. In such condition, students have to use their thought to learn language, feel it as a characteristic of human and perform it physically in their communication activities.