Description of the differences between PPP and TBL. The pros and cons of each approach.
What is PPP?
PPP is a simplified methodology to language teaching. The language is presented in small units or stages such as presentation, practice and production. Teacher targets a determined syllabus and use a deductive way of explanation, which is based on the intuition of the writers of the course books. The various TEFL books are based on the same syllabus where the intuition of the writers plays an important role and only focuses on the target language.
Presentation: The teacher presents new words or structures, gives examples, writes them on the board, etc.
Practice: Students practice using words or structures in a controlled way, e.g. making sentences form prompts, asking and answering questions, giving sentences based on a picture. Practice can be oral or written.
Production: Students use language they have learnt to express themselves more freely, e.g. to talk or write about their own lives and interests, to express opinions, or imagine themselves in different situations. Like practice, production can be oral or written.
According to Ellis (1988) the presentation stage helps the learner to acquire linguistic knowledge as well as to restructure it. In the next lessons, new language is presented related to the appropriate taught earlier. It is believed that learners will learn effectively in order.
In a practice stage, there are two sections such as controlled and freer. Students have to repeat the target items through gap filling match halves of sentences, choral and individual drilling where the learner uses the language correctly and get comfortable with it. On the other hand, in the freer section, only the student decides to the use of the target language. The students are assumed to understand the form and only need to practice the structure.
The productions stage through communicative task like role play helps the learner to use the learnt structure. It is uncertain that this stage is communicative. However, the PPP teacher illustrates that the learner has learnt the language through natural context or either by an activity.
What is TBL?
In task-based learning, the central focus of the lesson is the task itself, not a grammar point or a lexical area, and the objective is not to ‘learn the structure’ but to ‘complete the task’. Of course, to complete the task successfully students have to use the right language and communicate their ideas. The language, therefore becomes an instrument of communication, whose purpose is to help complete the task successfully. The students can use any language they need to reach their objective. Usually there is no ‘correct answer’ for a task outcome. Students decide on their own way of completing it, using the language they see fit.
Different teachers use TBL in different ways. Some integrate it into the existing syllabus, some use it to replace the syllabus altogether, some use it as an ‘extra’ to their traditional classroom activities. But generally, teachers using a TBL approach divide their task-based classes into three stages:
Stage 1: The pre-task. The teacher introduces the topic and familiarizes students with situations/lexical areas/texts (reading and listening)). This draws the students into the topic and brings up language that may be useful. The teacher then explains what the task is and sets up the activity.
Stage 2: Students perform the task in pairs or groups. They may then present their findings/conclusions to the rest of the class. In this stage, mistakes are not important; the teacher provides support and monitors. The learners focus on communication, perhaps at the expense of accuracy, but this will be dealt with in the next stage.
Stage 3: The teacher works on specific language points which come up in stage 2. (During the monitoring stage, most teachers make notes of common errors and students’ particular learning needs). Students reflect on the language needed to complete the task and how well they did. This is their opportunity to concentrate on accuracy and make sure they resolve any doubts or problems they had.
Advantages of PPP
The first advantage is that PPP lessons provide clear and simple structure of the lesson. As a second positive point is that such a lesson is easy to prepare because the materials used for the lesson are ordered from the simplest to the most difficult and types of activities are arranged from the most controlled to the least controlled. The third benefit is availability of materials.
. The teacher sees the progress of students in the lesson clearly and easily is the last common point. This approach is relatively easy for beginner students and that communication is effective.
Disadvantages of PPP
There are two main disadvantages of this approach. The most common is that students tend to be passive quite a large part of the lesson, which means that lessons are predisposed to be teacher centered.
This fact makes this approach unsuitable for more advanced students, as they do not get so much chance to communicate freely and independently. The second point matches one of the points mentioned in advantages of PPP; it is predictability of the lesson structure, which is criticized as being rigid.
Advantages of TBL
The advantage of TBL over more traditional methods is that it allows students to focus on real communication before doing any serious language analysis. It focuses on students’ needs by putting them into authentic communicative situations and allowing them to use all their language resources to deal with them. This draws the learners’ attention to what they know how to do, what they don’t know how to do, and what they only half know. It makes learners aware of their needs and encourages them to take (some of the) responsibility for their own learning. TBL is good for mixed ability classes; a task can be completed successfully by a weaker or stronger student with more or less accuracy in language production. The important thing is that both learners have had the same communicative experience and are now aware of their own individual learning needs.
Another advantage of this approach is that learners are exposed to a wide variety of language and not just grammar. Collocations, lexical phrases and expressions, chunks of language, things that often escape the constraints of the traditional syllabus come up naturally in task-based lessons. But this can also be a disadvantage. One of the criticisms of TBL is this randomness. It doesn’t often fit in with the course book/syllabus, which tends to present language in neat packages. Some teachers (and learners) also find the move away from an explicit language focus difficult and anarchistic. Many teachers also agree that it is not the best method to use with beginners, since they have very few language resources to draw on to be able to complete meaningful tasks successfully.
Disadvantages of TBL
There are three main disadvantages of TBL structure. Difficult and time-consuming preparation is the most usual problem of this method. TBL is quite complicated in monolingual classes, because the students have tendency to use their native language. Students have to be monitored quite closely in order to make them really use the target language. This dilemma seems to be even more evident with lower levels of students whose range of vocabulary and grammatical structures is quite limited.