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    Design mediation tasks

How to design mediation tasks: what to consider

This section provides an overview of some of the steps that teachers might wish to follow when creating their own mediation tasks.

Stage 1: Planning for mediation 

I. Teach or test?

The first question that the language teacher needs to ask is whether s/he aims at teaching or assessing mediation since the approach and rationale behind the activities which aim at developing mediation skills and strategies differ from those which are designed for assessment or testing purposes.

II. Setting the aims of the lesson and deciding on the topics and task type 

In order for teachers to create their own mediation tasks, the very first step is to decide on the content and the type of activities to be produced on the basis of the aim and the specific objectives of the lesson. It is also important to consider learners’ (CEFR) proficiency levels in different languages, in general, and in the target language, in particular, together with the specific needs and the situational context. The teacher will also decide whether the focus of the lesson will be on oral (producing an oral text on the basis of another written or oral text) or written mediation (producing a written text). 

III. Selecting (or adapting) the relevant CEFR-CV can-do statements 

The CEFR Companion Volume can provide a valuable support to learning. This entails that the teacher decides which descriptor scales can be useful for his/her students in connection with a specific task. For instance, if the teacher’s goal is to teach summary writing in the target language through written mediation tasks, the set of descriptors relating to ‘Processing text in writing’ could be a starting point in order to design specific activities. An example of such a (B1 level) descriptor is: ‘Can summarise in writing the main points made in straightforward informational texts regarding subjects that are of personal or current interest.’ Choosing the appropriate and most relevant scales and descriptors is not an easy procedure. 

For this reason, the METLA team provides certain tools which can be found in the Teaching Guide: 

1) A flowchart which refers to the ‘Mediating a text’ scales and suggests how teachers can use them in order to create their own cross-linguistic mediation activities or to link already made tasks to specific descriptors;

IV. Selecting relevant, authentic and linguistically appropriate source (Language A) texts

The selection of (authentic) source texts is an important step when designing cross-linguistic mediation tasks since the whole mediation activity is based on sources.



V. Deciding on the types of source texts and output texts 

Deciding on the genres (text-types) of the source texts and the target texts is an important step in mediation activity design as using genre-appropriate language is likely to be one of the goals of the activity. For instance, the language teacher may intend to provide practice on how to write an email in the foreign language. While the target texts will involve this particular genre, the source texts may be an email or any other text-types. 

VI. Writing clear task instructions and creating a realistic context

Clear task instructions are a very important aspect of a mediation activity. The learner needs specific information about the context of mediation, the purpose of mediation and the addressee of the target text in order to relay the information that would be most relevant, useful or interesting to the target audience. 

VII. Using the METLA (or other) checklists for the process of creating a task 

The METLA team offers two checklists, a short and a more extended one, for teachers who wish to check to what extent they have considered the above-mentioned aspects of mediation task design. The use of self-assessment or reflection checklists will help teachers monitor their lessons in a systematic way.

Download Checklist 1 and 2

Stage 2: The designing process 

The METLA task template

For the design purpose, the teacher can use the METLA template which consists of two parts: a first part for the teacher and a second part for the student.  It guides the teacher as to what information to include in relation to the lesson or the task (e.g., type of task –role play, project etc, task description, aims, languages, duration, CEFR language proficiency level, CEFR-CV mediation descriptors). The second part of the template can be used by the teacher to present the actual texts and tasks for the lesson. It is actually the worksheet for the student. Grids for self-assessment and reflection can also be included here. 

Download the template from here.

Some considerations when creating mediation tasks

This section focuses on how mediation can be taught and offers some important considerations in relation to the incorporation of learners’ home languages, the promotion of (inter/pluri)cultural elements, the introduction of multimodality and visuals, authenticity of texts and tasks, the development of learners’ mediation strategies, how teachers can bring a variety of genres into the classroom through mediation tasks, the incorporation of project work, the means through which learners’ collaborative skills can be developed and it discusses the issue of introducing technology. Finally, the METLA team gives some ideas as to how mediation can be assessed through means of alternative assessment.