Lesson 4: Implementing Communicative Tasks

A Narrative Activity

In order to learn how to manage group work in a language classroom, it is instructive to observe other teachers. To that end, we will watch footage of an actual Spanish class (3rd semester). The teacher in the video frames the class in terms of a narrative activity—talking about one's childhood. After a brief review of the imperfect past tense, the teacher puts the students into small groups and implements a series of activities.

As you watch this video, think about the following:

  • How does the teacher form the different groups for this activity?
  • What does the teacher do to keep students on task during group work?
  • Do you agree with the teacher's use of the L1?

Example footage of an actual Spanish course at University of Texas at Austin (3rd semester).

Duration: 07:15

Giving Feedback

Observing other teachers is an excellent way for beginning teachers to grow professionally. But observation can be face-threatening—for the teacher, for the students and even for the observer! You should always ask for permission before you observe a teacher's class. If you observe a teacher's class, think carefully about what kind of feedback you might share.

Imagine that you had to give feedback to the Spanish teacher in the previous video. What was good about her teaching? What does she need to do better? Remember to offer your feedback as constructive criticism.


Giving the Spanish teacher "constructive feedback."

Duration: 04:51

Improving the Activity

The teacher's narrative activity was "guided practice" and not truly a communicative activity. However, with a few design changes, this activity could become much more communicative.


Re-designing the lesson to oblige learners to listen to each other and to negotiate meaning.

Duration: 05:45

The language teachers come up with many ideas for redesigning the lesson to make it more communicative. The Spanish teacher chose one redesign as her favorite. Did you agree with her? Which redesign did you like best?