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Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)

Communicative Language Teaching
Background
The origins of Communicative Language Teaching (CL T) are to be found in the changes in the British language teaching tradition dating from the late 1960s. Until then, Situational Language Teaching (see Chapter 3) represented the major British approach to teaching English as a foreign language. In Situational Language Teaching, language was taught by practicing basic structures in meaningful situation-based activities. But just as the linguistic theory underlying Audiolingualism was rejected in the United States in the mid-1960s, British applied linguists began to call into question the theoretical assumptions underlying Situational Language Teaching: By the end of the sixties it was clear that the situational approach., . had run its course. There was no future in continuing to pursue the chimera of predicting language on the basis of situation a l events. What was required was a closer study of the language itself and a return to the traditional concept that utterances carried meaning in themselves and expressed the meanings and intentions of the speakers and writers who created them. (H6watt 1984: 280)
This was partly a response to the sorts of ctiticisms the prominent American linguist Noam Chomsky had leveled at structural linguistic theory in his now classic book Syntactic Structures (1957). Chomsky had demonstrated that the current standard structural theories of language were incapable of accounting for the fundamental characteristic of language - the creativity and uniqueness of individual sentences.
British applied linguists emphasized another fundamental dimension of language that was inadequately addressed in current approaches to language teaching at that time - the functional and communicative potential
of language. They saw the need to focus in language teaching on communicative proficiency rather than on mere mastery of structures. Scholars who advocated this view of language, such as Christopher Candlin and Henry Widdowson, drew on the work of British functional linguists (e.g., John Firth, M. A. K. Halliday), American work in socio linguistics (e .g. Dell Hymes, John Gumperz, and William Labov), as well as work in philosophy (e.g., John Austin and John Searle) .
Piepho (1981) discusses the following levels of objectives in a communicative approach:
1. An integrative and content level (language as a means of expression)
2. A linguistic and instrumental level (language as a semiotic system and an object of learning);
3. An affective level of interpersonal relationships and conduct (language as a means of expressing values and judgments about oneself and others);
4. A level of individual learning needs (remedial learning based on error analysis);
5. a general educational level o f extra-linguistic goals (language learning within the school curriculum). (Piepho 198 1: 8)
These are proposed as general objectives, applicable to any teaching situation. Particular objectives for CLT cannot be defined beyond this level of specification, since such an approach assumes that language teaching will reflect the particular needs of the target learners. These needs may be in the domains of reading, writing, listening, or speaking, each of which can be approached from a communicative perspective.
Curriculum or instructional objectives for a particular course would reflect specific aspects of communicative competence according to the learner's proficiency level and communicative needs.

Types of learning and teaching activities
The range of exercise types and activities compatible with a communicative approach is unlimited, provided that such exercises enable learners to attain the communicative objectives of the curriculum, engage learners in communication, and require the use of such communicative processes as information sharing, negotiation of meaning, and interaction. Classroom activities are often designed to focus on completing tasks that are mediated through language or involve negotiation of information and information sharing.
These attempts take many forms. Wright (1976) achieves it by showing out of focus slides which the students attempt to identify. Byrne (1978) provides incomplete plans and diagrams which students have to complete by asking for information. All Wright (1977) places a screen between students and gets one to place objects in a certain pattern: this pattern is then communicated to students behind the screen. Geddes and Sturtridge (1979) develop "jigsaw" listening in which students listen to different taped materials and then communicate their content to others in the class. Most of these techniques operate by providing information to some and withholding it from others. Johnson 1982: 151) Littlewood (1981) distinguishes between "functional communication activities" and "social interaction activities" as major activity types in Communicative Language Teaching. Functional communication activities include such tasks as learners comparing sets of pictures and noting similarities and differences; working out a likely sequence of events in
a set of pictures; discovering missing features in a map or picture; one learner communicating behind a screen to another learner and giving instructions on how to draw a picture or shape, or how to complete a map; following directions; and solving problems from shared clues. Social interaction activities include conversation and discussion sessions, dialogues and role plays, simulations, skits, improvisations, and debates.

Procedures:
1. Presentation of a brief dialog or several mini-dialogs, preceded by a motivation (relating the dialog situation(s) to the learners' probable community experiences) and a discussion of the function and situation-people, setting, topic, and the informality or formality of the language which the function and situation demand. (At beginning levels, where all the learners understand the same native language, the motivation can well be given in their native tongue).
2. Oral practice of each utterance of the dialog segment to be presented that day (entire class repetition, half-class, groups, individuals) generally preceded by your model. If mini-dialogs are used, engage in similar practice.
3. Questions and answers based on the dialog topic(s) and situation itself.
1. (Inverted wh, or or questions).
4. Questions and answers related to the students' personal experiences but centered on the dialog theme.
5. Study one of the basic communicative expressions in the dialog or one of the structures which exemplify the function. You will wish to give several additional examples of the communicative use of the expression or structure with familiar vocabulary in unambiguous utterances or mini dialogs (using pictures, simple real objects, or dramatization) to clarify the meaning of the expression or structure. ...
6. Learner discovery of generalizations or rules underlying the functional expression or structure. This should include at least four points: its oral and written forms (the elements of which it is composed, e.g. "How about + verb + ing?"); its position in the utterance; its formality or informality in the utterance; and in the case of a structure, its grammatical function and meaning....
7. Oral recognition, interpretative activities (two to five depending on the learning level, the language knowledge of the students, and related factors).
8. Oral production activities-proceeding from guided to freer communication activities.
9. Copying of the dialogs or mini-dialogs or modules if they are not in the class text
10. Sampling of the written homework assignment, if given.
11. Evaluation of learning (oral only), e.g. "How would you ask your friend to? And how would you ask me to ?" (Finocchi,l'o ,"d Bl'ulllfit 1983: 107- 8)

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1 comments:

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