Localising task-based language teaching in China’s examination-oriented context: Exploring the effectiveness of a localised task-based language teaching form on oral performance

Jinmiao LU

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Recently, there has been an urgent need in foreign language teaching to develop culturally appropriate task designs and appropriate task-based instruction method around the world, including China. Due to the effectiveness of TBLT in improving English as a foreign language (EFL) students’ communicative abilities and higher-order thinking skills, TBLT is highly recommended in the National English Curriculum Standards (NECS) of China. However, thecurrent implementation status is far from satisfactory. Most EFL teachers in Asian regions, including China, tend to use traditional instruction method rather than TBLT in regular teaching (Carless, 2007). Accordingly, this project aims to investigate a localised TBLT form that is suitable for EFL education in China’s examination-oriented culture.
To achieve the research purpose, a mixed-method design was adopted that involved a qualitative case study and a quantitative intervention study. First, eight EFL teachers from three different middle schools in China participated in the case study to ensure sufficient qualitative information was collected to inform the design of the intervention study. The qualitative case study involved interviews and classroom observations, aiming to collect information on teachers’ perceptions, practice, and suggestions regarding how to localise TBLT in China. The grounded theory was employed for the qualitative data analysis, which was decoded by the author and another doctoral candidate in EFL education. The findings of the case study revealed that TBLT has the positive influence on motivating learners, engaging students, and alleviating the fear of making mistakes. However, there are two obstacles that can demotivate EFL teachers from fully implementing classic TBLT in China: conflicts between traditional Chinese culture and classic TBLT and large class sizes. Furthermore, the informants’ suggestions for localising TBLT in China were also explored. These included connecting topics in TBLT with language items for examination, reducing task-based interaction time in the classroom, and incorporating traditional presentation, practice, and production (PPP) method into localized TBLT design.
Informed by the findings of the case study and Willis’ (1996) TBLT framework, a localized TBLT intervention study was piloted and implemented to assess its effectiveness on speaking performance considering complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF). The intervention study involved 101 students in Grade Seven who were divided into two groups: an experimental group (N = 50, localised TBLT) and a control group (N = 51, traditional instruction method). The two intervention groups were taught by the same EFL teacher, and a series of independent samples t-tests were performed using CAF measures. The results indicated that the student participants achieved a large- to medium-sized improvement in overall oral performance.
Specifically, the localised TBLT had a significant and large effect on fluency and complexity compared with the traditional approach. In addition, the experimental group exhibited a slight improvement in accuracy. Ultimately, a possible localised TBLT framework was proposed with localised task types and some focus-on-form elements included to suit China’s examination-oriented culture. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • MA, Qing 馬清, Supervisor
  • CHEN, Hsueh Chu 陳雪珠, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Classic TBLT
  • Localised TBLT
  • Oral performance
  • Examination-oriented context
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2022.


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