What is the difference between a task and an exercise?
The difference between a task and an exercise?
What’s the difference between a task and an exercise? This page will try to answer this question, defining both terms and giving examples.
One of the most salient characteristics of new methodologies of English language teaching is the focus on tasks and real-world activities. Syllabus designers are concerned more on how to satisfy learners needs to be able to communicate appropriately in real-world context than on only insisting on the accurate linguistic use. Most textbooks now include tasks and activities that have a communicative outcome as well as language exercises that yield accurate use of language.
What is the difference between tasks and exercises?
An English language teacher must be able to distinguish between exercises and tasks. They have different purposes and yield different results.
A task is a communicative act that does not usually have a restrictive focus on a single grammatical structure and has a non-linguistic outcome. There is also a further distinction between a real-life task and a pedagogical task. The latter is devised mainly for pedagogical purposes within the classroom setting. Real-world tasks, however, are communicative tasks that are achieved through language outside the classroom. The following are the main characteristics of tasks.
- Tasks are free. Students are given free will to use language for communicative purposes.
- Focus on multiple skills rather than on one.
- Tasks are used in context.
- Tasks are communicative and usually authentic.
- Tasks are meaningful and focus is on content.
- Correction of tasks is delayed and is done through observation and awareness raising.
An exercise usually has a restrictive focus on a single language element, and has a linguistic outcome.
- A language exercise is guided and controlled by the teacher.
- An exercise usually has a restrictive focus on a single language element, and has a linguistic outcome.
- The focus is usually on a single skill.
- There is no reference to the context.
- A language exercise is not communicative and usually not authentic.
- It is not meaningful and the focus is on form rather than on content.
- Correction is usually done immediately.
Examples of exercises and tasks
Examples of exercises include, according to Jack C Richards drills, cloze activities, and reading comprehension passages. Examples of tasks include any type of activity whose outcome is not only linked to learning language but also to do something with the language.
An example of a Language exercise
Fill in the blanks with the simple past form of these verbs: write, go, have, study, buy.
- Yesterday, Nancy______to school and ______English.
- Last week, Leila________ an interesting book about the history of the United States.
- We______a delicious breakfast this morning.
- She _______ an email to her pen pal last night.
An example of a task
Pedagogical tasks simulate real-life tasks.
Planning a party. Learners will be asked to do the following:
- agree on what they need for the preparation,
- choose the place where the party will be held,
- prepare for the party,
- write invitation letters…