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(c) Alexander Sokol, Riga, 2000, contacts@thinking-approach.org

Preliminary Points
How to Choose a Text
Functions of Tasks
Types of Tasks

Texts Samples
Tasks to the Texts
Students’ Works

Students' Responses



It may appear that the focus of most tasks in the Thinking Approach is on something different from the language. Students seem to be doing a lot of potentially useful things, but are they learning the language itself? Are they acquiring the skills essential for mastering the language?

I will dare give a positive answer to this question. If considered in a more careful way, the Text Technology comprises development of all four skills:

  • Reading and re-reading a text to find information necessary for performing a task;

  • Listening to each other and the teacher while working upon tasks;

  • Speaking to each other while working upon tasks and presenting the result of work;

  • Writing to present the result of work.

Moreover, The Text Technology allows the teacher to focus on virtually any sub-skill they find relevant at a certain moment.

Teaching techniques with representational materials go beyond reading skills; they bring in speaking and writing practice in discussion, debate and extension (written work), as well as encouraging extensive reading. They involve reinforcement techniques through occasional summary work, recall of previous reading, and the encouragement of cross-reference to an ever-growing range of texts.
(McRae 1991, p.96)

The Text Technology is an example of the process syllabus. Learning takes place while performing the task. We cannot say it is a traditional task-based syllabus as understanding of task is different. Task here is understood as a process students need to undergo. While doing it, students prepare tasks for further work. The teacher’s role is to choose from all those ideas and suggestions students come up with those which are at the same time more useful (for mastering skills) and interesting for students. (compare to Nunan 1998).




There is a certain difference between tasks for individual work and those offered to students in the classroom. In the former case, we have to prepare a list of tasks to initiate students’ work. Our influence on the process of performing a task may take place only when a student submits a variant for correction. (link to examples). The situation is different when students work with a text in the classroom. It is no longer necessary to offer students the whole list of tasks at once. The teacher will have an opportunity to introduce this or that task later when it is going to be more relevant for students. In the classroom the teacher may see how students are performing a task and influence this process if necessary. Here we can speak of the Net Technology in action.

One of the key differences of the Net Technology (and The Text Technology as an illustration of its application to language teaching) which makes learning much more productive for students and at the same time much more difficult for teachers is spontaneity of what is going on in the classroom. It is no longer an artificial classroom where students are trying to cope with the language chosen by the teacher (or student book). Moreover, the teacher does not know what exactly they are going to teach at this or that lesson. The focus of a lesson depends on students. The teacher will see where they got stuck and here is where learning begins. However, in order to face a difficulty it is necessary to move. The activities offered by the Text Technology are aimed at giving direction for further work on the text and providing necessary context for learning itself1.


1 However, such a lesson appears very hard for a teacher to prepare for – as I have already mentioned before they have to be ready to teach virtually any point students may find problematic.



(ń) 1997-2000 OTSM-TRIZ Technologies Center


21 Nov 2000