Communicative Language Teaching

This was a radical departure from the PPP-type lessons which have tended to dominate language teaching. Communicative Language Teaching has two main strands. The first is that language is not just bits of grammar, it also involves language functions such as agreeing and disagreeing, suggesting and inviting, which students should learn how to use. They also need to be aware of the need for appropriacy when talking or writing to people in terms of the kind of language they use (formal, informal, tentative, technical etc.). The second strand of Communicative Language Teaching developed from the idea that students got enough exposure to language and opportunities for its use – and if they are motivated – then language learning will take care of itself. In other words activation was increased and study downplayed to a certain extent.

Key points

  • Communication
  • Interaction
  • Authentic language
  • Social context
  • A function can be performed by various forms – and vice versa
  • Students as communicators
  • Teacher’s role less dominant than G-L ( Grammar-Translation Method) or A-L (Audio-lingualism method)
  • Communicative activities
  • Authentic materials (i.e. not specifically written for language learning)
  • Fluency – students errors tolerated
  • Grammar – deductive

Communicative Language Learning has had a thoroughly beneficial effect since it reminded teachers that people learn languages not so that they “know” them, but so that they can communicate. Giving students different kinds of language, pointing out aspects of style and appropriacy and giving them the chance to try out language in the classroom humanized what for many had become too regimented.
Overall it stresses the need for activation and allows the teacher to use “patchwork” and Boomerang type lessons where in the past they had tended to be frowned upon.

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