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Focusing on Performances in Chinese Teaching

In your Chinese classroom, how do you design tasks to better utilize your course materials and make learning fun for your students? How do you design activities that provide opportunities for learners to apply the language to real world situations? What do performance-based tasks (PBT) look like? This week, we are going to cover the topic of performance-based tasks from three perspectives: what it is, why should we use it, and how can we do it in language classrooms.

What is a performance-based task?

Performance-based tasks reflect how students use language and cultural knowledge to achieve communicative tasks. These tasks reflect authentic, real world use of language.

The 3 main components of a performance-based task are 1) a real-world task activity, 2) alignment with one of the ACTFL modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, presentational and 3) the use of a language

Unlike traditional activities (chanting, reciting, reading aloud, etc.), performance-based tasks utilize students’ higher order thinking skills including analyzing, evaluating, and creating to focus on how students really use the target language to perform real-life tasks (e.g. planning for travel, ordering food in a restaurant, designing a poster for school events, etc.).

Why should we use performance-based tasks?

Below is a list of advantages when using performance-based tasks in a language classroom. Language teachers are responsible for utilizing available resources and developing tasks that facilitate learning. Performance-based tasks can be one way teachers can aid language acquisition and make learning useful to real-life contexts.

  • Facilitate transfer of learning
  • Promote real-life use of the language
  • Develop communicative competence
  • Integrate ACTFL three modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, & presentational)
  • Utilize students’ multiple intelligences
  • Develop higher-order thinking skills
  • And more

How can we do it in language classrooms?

When designing performance-based tasks, be sure to check whether the task fulfills the following requirements. Is it a real-world task? Is it true to the characteristic of the mode? Do students need to use communication strategies?

The following chart shows some commonly used text types teachers use when developing performance-based tasks.

Teachers can also integrate the three modes of communication in the design of the PBT. As the table shows below, when teaching “What makes the right travel destination for me?” for intermediate level students, the teacher can develop performance-based tasks based on each mode of communication. After they finish the task, the final products products can be collected and evaluated using a self-created rubric or a peer evaluation form.

 

What are some of the performance-based tasks that you have designed for your students? How do you evaluate your students’ performances? We are going to continue our topic in our future blogs about performance-based assessment. Stay tuned with us and share your views with us!

 

Fan Sun

Fan Sun

Fan Sun is the Teacher Training Specialist at Better Chinese. She graduated from the TESOL program at University of Pennsylvania. Having worked as an ESL teacher as well as a Mandarin teacher in Philadelphia schools and non-profit organizations, she has developed great passion and interest in curriculum development and teacher education.

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