Tasks in the action-oriented approach often involve the creation of a
product. This product may be a restaurant review, an invitation to a
social event, a blog entry, a resume, or an application for a health card.
However, it is not only the product that counts, but also the process.
How students get to the ﬁnal results, what choices they make, how
they interact with the other students, how they negotiate what needs
to be done and how they select useful materials and resources builds
In the action-oriented approach, the path is not clearly marked and the
result is not fully predictable. Students are engaged in critical thinking
as they need to do the following:
• Judge what is needed to accomplish the task (what language and
• Quickly size up the tools at their disposal “What do I know about this?
What language can I use that I feel at ease with? What can I use to
help me be successful?” and the tools that they need but do not have.
• Think about how to use all this and how to best achieve the goal(s)
Working with tasks means providing a real-life scenario and all real-
life scenarios involve constraints (time, space, money, more or less
predictable issues, etc.).
Tasks make learning tangible and meaningful. Students do not learn a
language so that maybe one day they can use it. Rather, they perform
real-life tasks and, while doing that, learn the language. The action-
oriented task breaks down the walls of the classroom and connects
it with the outside world. In the classic communicative approach, tasks
served communication; in the action-oriented approach, communication
is one means at the learner’s disposal for accomplishing the task.
Strategy, reﬂection, and critical thinking also play an important role.
In this way, students acquire an attitude and an expertise that is key
for them to thrive in society. They become effective social agents
capable of integrating in the community and pursuing their personal and
Obviously, this is not a straightforward process; students may
encounter difﬁculties along the way. They need to be guided through
the steps in a complex task. Instructors have an essential role to play.
They do not limit themselves to transmitting knowledge and have
students do exercises. Most of the time they are a blend of coach,
resource person, advisor, organizer, and facilitator. Certainly, they will
also have to explain content and how to use tools (for example, some
vocabulary or how to use a verb form) but they will do that in the same
way as an athletic coach would explain the function of a muscle or the
consequences of a motion. The goal is not to accumulate knowledge
or do exercises, the goal is that students perform the task, just as
for athletes the goal is to perform in the best possible way during the
competition...and eventually win the championship. On top of all the
other roles, instructors need to be good planners.
The authentic, community-based resources on a municipal immigration
portal, together with their pedagogical organization through tasks that
support and enhance the language learning process, respond perfectly
to recent shifts in language education, focussing on meaningful
communication and on real-life, practical tasks. Using content from a
municipal immigration portal to anchor tasks allows learners to interact
with essential resources in a facilitated environment. This, in turn, helps
develop the conﬁdence and competence necessary in the real world.
This is especially important for newcomers settling and
within their new community.
An International Perspective Dr. Enrica Piccardo