The Task Cycle--Part 1

Starting with this blog post, we will be looking at the task cycle. In subsequent posts, we will look more closely at the feedback stage of the task cycle in particular.

An easy way for teacher trainers to divide a lesson into easy-to-handle sequences for their trainees is to use the set-task, do-task, get-feedback triptych. The three inevitably go together, and because they form a whole, none of them could be said to be more important than the others. However, it’s in the feedback stage that contact between the teacher and students is most personal and intense, with the opportunity for personalized error correction and language clarification. In addition, the feedback stage also acts as the gateway to the rest of the lesson, determining to a large degree “what comes next.”

From Instructions to Feedback

Students do tasks in the classroom in order to practice using a language skill--writing, speaking, reading or listening--or a language point, for example the past perfect tense, or prepositions of movement. The first step in helping students practice is to tell them what they need to do, i.e., giving instructions, or setting the task. Students then typically do the task, either alone, in pairs or in small groups. Finally, the time comes for students to find out if they did the task correctly, which answers they got correct or wrong, and to learn from their mistakes. This final stage of the task cycle is feedback.

So feedback has the following main goals:

  • To allow the teacher to see if students have done the task correctly;

  • To allow students to see if they have done the task correctly;

  • To give students affirmation and positive reinforcement for tasks well done;

  • To give students the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, generally as a result of the teacher re-clarifying language points or helping students better understand a text (particularly with regards to reading, listening, or writing tasks).

In the next posts on this topic, we’ll be talking about the “teacher-student reunion” and “the feedback conductor.”

In the meantime, your comments and questions are welcome!

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