This article first addresses the question of what tasks are. It suggests that rather than accept the common ‘communicative’ definition, we should return to a broader definition and then focus on key dimensions that distinguish (from the learner’s perspective) different types of task, notably degrees of task-involvement and degrees of focus on form or meaning. This approach helps us to conceptualize the complementary roles of form-focused and meaning-focused tasks in our methodology. It also shows the continuity between task-based language teaching and the broader communicative approach within which it is a development. Finally the article asks whether ‘task-based approach’ is really the most appropriate term at all for describing these developments in language pedagogy. Copyright © 2004 Oxford University Press.