Podcast Episode 4: Communicative Tasks

Connecting the Dots: Converse on the Verse

Episode 4: Communicative Tasks

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of activities are best for VR language learning lessons and why, this is the episode for you! 

Virtual reality, whether accessed through a headset or desktop app, offers a uniquely contextualized setting for language learning. The freedom of movement and interaction in Immerse’s authentic virtual scenes allows for language classes that truly prepare learners for real-world interactions.

In Episode 4 of Immerse’s Connecting the Dots podcast, Dr. Tricia Thrasher and Christina Cavage talk about the importance of communicative tasks, the skills a language learner needs in order to communicate in the real world beyond the classroom, and the need to support the personal goals of adult language learners. 

What is a communicative task?

Language is communication, and communication is all about trying to achieve something, like getting directions, offering help, or letting your doctor know where it hurts. The goals that communication helps you achieve are called communicative tasks.

Communicative tasks can be grouped into categories, such as socializing or navigating health and safety, and then within each category are more specific tasks like apologizing or expressing our likes and dislikes.

When language lessons focus on communicative tasks, learners acquire skills they can put to use right away in the real world. The curriculum team at Immerse creates all activities with this in mind. 

Grammar and communication

The best approach to teaching grammar has long been a matter of debate among language instructors and linguists. There is no doubt, however, that grammar plays a role in successful communication.

At Immerse, lessons include the grammar that learners need to accomplish the communicative task at hand. This is done inductively, by drawing learners’ attention to grammar structures in authentic contexts and encouraging their use. Immerse teachers then help fine-tune the learners’ grammar knowledge as they apply it to new situations.

Grammar in context

In real-life spoken communication, environment and context have a significant influence on the way we use language. Language learners can struggle to understand the nuances of structures like “right there,” “over there,” and “back there” without the context of an authentic conversation in a three-dimensional setting. 

The highly interactive nature of the virtual scenes Immerse classes take place in makes it easy for learners to practice applying their new language skills to real communicative tasks, such as asking about prices or explaining where something is.

How does focusing on communicative tasks support learners’ personal language goals?

When adults choose to learn a new language, they do it for a reason. 

For some, the goal may be to better enjoy their trip to a foreign destination. Others may be aiming to communicate with people at work. Each learner is motivated by a personal objective.

Adult learners need lessons that will teach them the specific communicative tasks necessary for achieving their personal goals.

For this reason, each Immerse lesson focuses on a single communicative task, and learners have complete autonomy in selecting the lessons, events, and other language building activities they engage in.

With unlimited access to the four learning pillars of Learn, Connect, Practice, and Play, Immerse members have everything they need to meet their language learning objectives.

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