Challenges and Opportunities of Asynchronicity: Task-Based Approach After COVID-19 [PDF]

Līga Beļicka, Tatjana Bicjutko
University of Latvia, Latvia

Abstract: The fast transition to fully online studies due to the pandemic made the universities around the world question many of their accepted notions on teaching foreign languages in general and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) methodology in particular. Putting stress on the synchronous remote teaching and learning has proven to yield a reductionist perspective missing asynchronicity, the dimension which makes reconsider the whole educational process.
With its shift from the sole focus on learning terminology to training skills in authentic professional contexts, the task-based approach has long excelled in meeting the diverse needs of students. Thus, the research question is how well task-based teaching (TBT) solves the problems raised with asynchronous learning in a university ESP course. The research of available literature on TBT yielded the framework for constructing an extended task applicable in the advanced medical English. The case study with 120 first-year students of medicine organised around an informational interview with health professionals demonstrated easy adaptability of the task to the asynchronous nature of the educational process. Personal observations by the course instructor, summaries of student-conducted interviews, and student written feedback proved the responsiveness of the method to the learners’ needs and the potential of the approach in terms of motivation. The emphasis on self-directed learning, however, threatens the systematicity of the acquired language skills, as a more controlled teaching environment would not allow “skipping” any learning step. Additionally, TBT does not solve the problem of the voluminous teaching load.
Keywords: asynchronicity, collaboration, English for Specific Purposes, extended task, informational interview, Task-Based Approach.

In: Human, Technologies and Quality of Education, 2021 = Cilvēks, tehnoloģijas un izglītības kvalitāte, 2021
Rīga, University of Latvia, 2021. 1148 p. Ed. L. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-18-735-3