Part I: Task-Based Criteria
As a multicultural society, the United States is specially placed with regards to national policies on vital social service like education and health. Almost every race in the world is represented with the US ethnic profile. The government, therefore, is faced with a challenge of providing standardized education to meet the needs of every citizen in the country. The American dream that is so emphasized on is built on among other principles the individual and collective economic emancipation. Education plays a central role in self and collective advancement, meaning that is should be tailor-made to meet the needs of such a diverse society. In the United States, English is used as the main instructional language in pedagogy. Foreign learners who do not use English as their first language must first take up English classes to enhance their competence in written and spoken language. Zwiers (2014) classifies leaners as mainstream English speakers and non-mainstream speakers. Mainstream speakers, Zwiers posits, are students raised while conversing in mainstream English by educated and middle and upper income-earning parents with the ability of providing important leaning material which include computers, academic support, and rich conversations. Apparently, Zwiers does not include foreign students in this description, which could mean that they are nonmainstream students. Such students should be exposed to objective learning that not only introduces them to English proficiency, but also the one that ensures that they can apply it to perform a certain task.
Task-based teaching, according to Nunan (2004) entails both pedagogical and target tasks. Target task, otherwise known as real-world task is an activity offered by one person for the individual benefits or the benefits of the larger society, either freely or at a fee. Such activities can range from simple gestures such as ordering food in a hotel or making a telephone call to reserve an air ticket. Pedagogical tasks are only carried out about in a classroom setting. EFL students should be able to perform a task based on what they leant in class (Nunan, 1999). In order to prove their proficiency in English, they should be able to communicate among themselves and the general population in both written and speaking language. Towards this end, I develop a task based outcome assessment criteria that will engage EFL students as they complete their English language lessons. This criterion is a farewell party that will bring together all foreign students who have completed an English language course and are ready to return back to their countries. I will justify this assessment tool based on the five Cs of the National standards in Foreign Language Education as well as Nunans (2004) work-based unit.
The farewell party will provide an interactive forum for all international students hailing from various parts of the world to meet and great as they share their experiences in EFL classes. The party, which will be prepared at the end of the course, will give students a chance to evaluate their understanding of English language in comparison with their peers. Students will get a chance to informally interact and appreciate the progress made by each one of them in different aspects of EFL. The party will be designed in a way that will ensure that graduates from different nationalities present their content in front of others as well as the teachers. After presentation, fellow students will rectify them whenever necessary. In other words, it will be a mediocre extension of EFL classes. Students will be able to borrow new terms from their peers, develop the confidence in communicating in English, and benchmark their proficiency against that of best performing students. Because the exercise is meant to be task-based, participants will perform both linguistic and non-linguistic tasks. Some of the linguist tasks will be making presentations in English, asking questions and clarification, chatting among participants, filling forms, and writing farewell cards. The party will be organized in the school compound, and participants will be encouraged to carry along their home mates with them. Students will clad in home clothes since the event will be informal. They will be encouraged to carry their cell phones, MP3 players, and notebooks. Planning will take place for one month prior to the party, and students will be actively involved in the whole process. Contribution in planning by students exposes them to formal letter writing, rhetoric skills, negotiation, interviewing skills, justification of pleas, and teamwork collaboration.
The preliminary activities will include seeking approval for holding the party in the schools precincts. Therefore, a preparation committee will be formulated consisting of one ESL teacher as the head, one mainstream student and four ESL students. The teacher will organize the first committee meeting to chart the way forward towards the end-of-term farewell party. The mainstream student in the committee will serve as the bridge between the teacher and other students in the committee. The teacher will instruct the four nonmainstream students to draft individual letters to the schools principal requesting for the funds, a hall, public address system, and any necessary facilitation. The following day, the teacher will go through the letters with the students and make any correction and editing as necessary. The four letters will then be combined by the ESL students to one final copy that will be addressed to the principal. After the principal receives the letter, he will most likely call upon the students to his office to discuss their requests on a one-on-one platform. After the students requests have been accepted and the necessary materials for the party are availed, the preparation committee will be dissolved, and the whole lot will be engaged in the final preparations. This second stage will engage the students in fellowship collaboration, task assignment, communication skills, simple research techniques, creativity, and purchasing.
ESL students will be divided into three groups of 10. Each group will be assigned a specific task to complete. For instance, one group will be given the responsibility of cleaning and decorating the party venue. As such, they will search the Internet for the best methods of decorating a room in preparation for the event. After compiling the best methods to decorate, they will purchase all the required material from the store. The students decorating the party venue will be drawn from different cultures. Therefore, it is expected that these students will engage in a lot of discussion and negotiations to come up with the best decorative method that is multicultural and well suited for the event. During this period of back-and-forth arguments, students from different parts of the world will learn a lot on global cultures and how they are depicted in art. Planning for the materials to purchase as well as making the actual decoration will only be successful if the students cooperate with each other at every stage. Since the motivation of the students is excellence, there will be a lot of teamwork organization and constructive communication which is an objective of task-based learning.
Another group will be assigned to plan and organize for public relations. This task will allow the students to communicate effectively with the general public by preparing and posting the advertisements for the farewell party. This activity will entail drafting of voice and print notices, posting in the social media and school notice boards, and responding to student reviews. This group will also be mandated to install and setup the public address system in the venue in a fashion that will enhance effective broadcasting of the party proceedings. They will also prepare and test all the music, video clips and other audiovisual material to be used for the party. The last group of 10 will draft the events program. This particular exercise will expose students to non-linguistic task of time management as well as the linguistic aspect of conversation.
The master of ceremony will be an ESL student. This student must have recorded exemplary performance in English proficiency in the course of classroom training. They must also have the appropriate public speaking skills to spice up the event. During the party, students will be permitted to present choral verses, spoken-word recitations, poems, skits, and drama in English. Students will be encouraged to exploit their creativity in translating songs and chants from their native languages to English. There will be an exchange of cultures and contact details that will allow students to connect with each other even after going back to their home countries. Students will exchange farewell cards and notes to recount their experiences with each other at the end of the farewell party. Best performing students will then be rewarded with gifts of various kinds ranging from cash, electronics, air tickets, vacations, and scholarships. The party is expected to end at 4.00 pm in the evening. After this time, students will be given a while to freely interact, listen to music sampled from different cultures, and exchange contact details. After the party is over, ESL students will give a vote of thanks to their fellow learners as well as the educators for helping them attain another level in academics. Students will be advised to form a common group in one of the social media platform to serve as a linkage to all of them after they disperse to different destinations. In the group, students will be encouraged to converse in English and test each other on the progress made so far in the language.
I can justify the appropriateness of this party due to the impacts it has on foreign students studying mainstream English in the United States. Obviously, students taking ESL classes in the US have varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds that vary from the culture of the country. They have their way of planning academic and non-academic parties which varies from the way parties are held in the country. The farewell party gives ESL learners an American dimension of party planning and collaboration, which contributes to target tasks. In other words, students get to learn the non-linguistic aspects of tasks, which according to both Nunan (2004) and Standards in Foreign Language Education Project are related to mainstream English linguistics (SFLEP). As it will be shown in the next part, analysis of the farewell party with reference to the recommended pedagogical attributes depicts a positive output of this task-based unit. In summary, the preparation of the party and the actual party will improve students skills in communication, discussion, arguments, negotiation, translation, conversation, and teamwork collaboration
Part II: Analysis, Evaluation, and Recommendation
I will analyze the appropriateness of a farewell party as a task-based unit using the 12-point exercise typology (Nunan, 2004). Furthermore, I will analyze the farewell party for its emphasis on Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities (ACTFL, 2012).
The first point on exercise typology as discussed by Nunan (2004) is the application of snapshots. Snapshots are a visual representation of real-world information that not only develops vocabulary, but also introduces the topic of a unit. There are a number of visual details in the above criteria. One of them is the computer-human interaction. During the drafting of application letters and event advertisements, the students involved use computer software for typing and editing written content. The use of computer software challenges students to respond to visual command prompts in form of either text or images. For example, an error in the system may be...
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