College of Foreign Language Education, China West Normal University
No. 1 Shida Ave. Nanchong City, Sichuan Province
The focus of English teaching in China seems to go from one extreme to another between language form and meaning. Over the past few years, grammar instruction has moved from its central position in traditional language teaching approaches to playing almost no role in task-based language teaching (TBLT) that is strongly advocated and frequently applied in the Chinese English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom. The high-profile use of TBLT is meant to solve the problems in the traditional English classroom that puts grammar in the center of language learning. But ignorance of language form in the meaning-focused TBLT classes poses great difficulty for English learners because English is a foreign language in China and English learners need to grasp a lot of grammatical points before they can use English freely. Researchers have pointed out there are clear disadvantages to an extreme focus in either direction and the most sensible way to proceed would be covering both form and meaning, accuracy and fluency (Seedhouse, 1997). Focus on form (FoF) provides a solution to that problem because FoF draws the learners’ attention to particular linguistic or grammatical forms within meaning-centered communicative activities in order to increase learners’ accuracy. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the necessity and feasibility of integrating TBLT and FoF in English teaching to avoid extremities in Chinese EFL context. It argues that TBLT and FoF can be quite complementary to each other to integrate meaning-focused and form-focused instruction in English teaching. It also aims to provide a balancing solution to the problems in the English teaching in China.
Key words: task-based language teaching, focus on form, Chinese EFL context.