Communicative language teaching

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Communicative language teaching

  1. 1. Lecture -21
  2. 2.  1. Language is primarily a tool of communication. Learning a language means learning to perform communicative speech acts with it.
  3. 3.  In CLT, "communication" means using language to make requests, give advice, agree and disagree, complain, praise, to try to persuade people to do things, and so on. The focus should be on meaning, not on form. Some supporters of CLT, like Geoff Thompson argue that this is a misconception of CLT. However, even he admits that there are good reasons for this "misconception"
  4. 4.  2. There is something called a "communicative syllabus" which replaces and is superior to a structural syllabus" .
  5. 5.  It is often argued that a typical structuralist syllabus focuses on the grammatical structure of language rather than on the "communicative" or pragmatic uses of those language For example, so the argument goes terms like "The Present Continuous", tell us little or nothing about the fact that typical examples of this form such as "You're standing in my way" or "You're driving too fast" are complaints,
  6. 6.  or that one of the most frequent uses of the Present Progressive is not to talk about actions in the present but about pre-arranged actions in the future, For this reason, many CLT supporters used to argue and still do that language lessons should not be about "The Present Continuous" or "The Present Perfect", but about "Giving and getting personal information", "Asking for and giving directions", "Expressing Opinions", etc.
  7. 7. 3.Communicative goals can be specified. We can accurately describe what learners should have learned and be able to do with language at the end of the lesson  An example of a typical "communicative goal is given below. 
  8. 8.  - talk about their own jobs and ask classmates about theirs  -use the Present Simple accurately and fluently in this context  -choose correctly between a/an pronounce the unstressed form of "d‘ you in their question
  9. 9. "Teacher-centred" means "BAD" The teacher doles out formal knowledge of the language like a cook giving prisoners thin soup and stale bread in a Victorian prison. "Learner-centred" means "GOOD".  This view is best summed up for me by Julian Edge in what I think is the best and most clearly written exposition of CLT principles, 
  10. 10.  Many classrooms are arranged so that all students face forward to the teacher; the message is clear. ◦ the teacher dominates ◦ all information will come from the teacher ◦ interaction between or among students is less valued
  11. 11.  Edge goes on to describe other seating arrangements which encourage co-operative, communicative pair-work and group-work. In one picture we see ten or eleven young learners, perhaps in their late teens or early twenties, listening attentively to one member of the group talking.
  12. 12.  In a second picture we see four learners working together. The learners are smiling, eager, interested, entirely absorbed in the communicative task that they are performing. These two pictures seem for me at least to communicate better than any others, the great intuitive appeal of CLT.
  13. 13.  Professor John Trim, one of the founders of CLT, has said that "children learning in school must be taught that language learning is about communicating, not getting things right". Trim believes in "emphasising the importance of repair strategies and of the acceptance of errors".
  14. 14.  He asks "if certain learner errors are so predictable, how much effort is justified in the attempt to put them right, instead of developing different ways of enlarging that person's communicative range?". Instead of correcting mistakes, we should be doing things that will extend the communicative range of learners.
  15. 15.  Strict turn-taking, "display questions", etc. are "uncommunicative" and do not reflect the "real world" outside the classroom. The classroom must become like the world outside the classroom, where we see people using language spontaneously and communicatively.
  16. 16.  The question "Is form as important as meaning?" is fundamentally mistaken. Form IS part of meaning. It matters whether I say "If I have time I'll see you" or "If I had time, I'd see you " just as it matters whether I say "A man attacked a woman " or "The woman attacked the man. " The kind of meaning we get from syntactic form tells us essential things, such as "who did what, how, and to whom."
  17. 17. One of the many questions for teachers and materials writers is "How can we make learners aware of how form contributes to meaning?" I will give one possible answer to that question at the end of this article.  It may be possible to communicate very basic messages using words alone, but this is a hollow argument, 
  18. 18.  It is also possible and probably more effective to communicate such messages using no words at all. Hunger, thirst, anger, rage, sexual desire, frustration and interest and most other emotions can all be communicated through gestures with perhaps a few grunts for emphasis. This is not the kind of "communication training" people are prepared to pay money or give up time for.
  19. 19.  Language- as Geoffrey Leech argues, has two different domains. There is a GENERATIVE and a PRAGMATIC domain. The generative domain is syntactic and structural. It is possible to state general rules at least about how those syntactic structures are formed. The pragmatic domain is concerned with speech acts.
  20. 20.  Speech acts cannot be generated without syntax, but speech act theory analyses them purely in terms of their pragmatic effect. Speech act theory tells us nothing about how they are generated, and nothing about how they are learned in the first place.
  21. 21.  The "narrow" or fundamentalist version of CLT can easily become a stifling orthodoxy in which things like rote-learning, memorisation, "display questions", "teacher-talk" automatically mean BAD. None of these things alone is bad. What matters is how, when and why they are done. Although Thompson and Edge have a much broader vision of CLT than the fundamentalist version, it is often that narrow version that prevails among teacher-trainers and other people in strong positions of authority.

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