Work in the area of task-based language instruction has called into question certain central tenets of communicative language teaching. This article reviews recent research into task-based pedagogy and reflects on its implications for the foreign language classroom. Following a review of perceived weaknesses in the so-called communicative approach, the article examines the task-based critique of the traditional presentation-practice-production lesson paradigm and describes an alternative framework based around classroom tasks. A task-based approach is shown to accord better with what we know about second language acquisition than conventional ‘synthetic’ language syllabuses. However, attention is also drawn to a number of concerns with the approach as currently propounded, in particular its neglect of language learning as a cognitive process of skill acquisition. The article concludes by suggesting that tasks in the communicative classroom should be linked to a more consistent focus on form and to more guided practice than is currently envisaged by ‘strong’ versions of task-based teaching.