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Second Language Practice: Classroom Strategies for Developing Communicative Competence

An influential development in the history of communicative language teaching was the work of the Council of Europe in creating new language syllabi. When communicative language teaching had effectively replaced situational language teaching as the standard by leading linguists, the Council of Europe made an effort to once again bolster the growth of the new method. This led to the Council of Europe creating a new language syllabus.

Education was a high priority for the Council of Europe, and they set out to provide a syllabus that would meet the needs of European immigrants. Wilkins, that defined language using "notions" and "functions", rather than more traditional categories of grammar and vocabulary. The new syllabus reinforced the idea that language could not be adequately explained by grammar and syntax, and instead relied on real interaction.

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In the mid s, the Dogme 95 manifesto influenced language teaching through the Dogme language teaching movement. This proposed that published materials stifle the communicative approach. As such, the aim of the Dogme approach to language teaching is to focus on real conversations about practical subjects, where communication is the engine of learning. The idea behind the Dogme approach is that communication can lead to explanation, which will lead to further learning.

This approach is the antithesis of situational language teaching, which emphasizes learning through text and prioritizes grammar over communication. A survey of communicative competence by Bachman divides competency into the broad headings of "organizational competence", which includes both grammatical and discourse or textual competence, and "pragmatic competence", which includes both sociolinguistic and " illocutionary " competence.

CLT teachers choose classroom activities based on what they believe is going to be most effective for students developing communicative abilities in the target language TL. Oral activities are popular among CLT teachers, as opposed to grammar drills or reading and writing activities, because they include active conversation and creative, unpredicted responses from students.

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Activities vary based on the level of language class they are being used in. They promote collaboration, fluency, and comfort in the TL. The six activities listed and explained below are commonly used in CLT classrooms. Role-play is an oral activity usually done in pairs, whose main goal is to develop students' communicative abilities in a certain setting.

This activity gives students the chance to improve their communication skills in the TL in a low-pressure situation. Most students are more comfortable speaking in pairs rather than in front of the entire class. Instructors need to be aware of the differences between a conversation and an utterance. Students may use the same utterances repeatedly when doing this activity and not actually have a creative conversation.

If instructors do not regulate what kinds of conversations students are having, then the students might not be truly improving their communication skills. An interview is an oral activity done in pairs, whose main goal is to develop students' interpersonal skills in the TL. This activity, since it is highly-structured, allows for the instructor to more closely monitor students' responses.

It can zone in on one specific aspect of grammar or vocabulary, while still being a primarily communicative activity and giving the students communicative benefits. This is an activity that should be used primarily in the lower levels of language classes, because it will be most beneficial to lower-level speakers.

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Higher-level speakers should be having unpredictable conversations in the TL, where neither the questions nor the answers are scripted or expected. If this activity were used with higher-level speakers it wouldn't have many benefits. Group work is a collaborative activity whose purpose is to foster communication in the TL, in a larger group setting.

Students can feel overwhelmed in language classes, but this activity can take away from that feeling. Students are asked to focus on one piece of information only, which increases their comprehension of that information. Better comprehension leads to better communication with the rest of the group, which improves students' communicative abilities in the TL. Instructors should be sure to monitor that each student is contributing equally to the group effort.

It takes a good instructor to design the activity well, so that students will contribute equally, and benefit equally from the activity. Information gap is a collaborative activity, whose purpose is for students to effectively obtain information that was previously unknown to them, in the TL. Completing information gap activities improves students' abilities to communicate about unknown information in the TL. These abilities are directly applicable to many real-world conversations, where the goal is to find out some new piece of information, or simply to exchange information.

Instructors should not overlook the fact that their students need to be prepared to communicate effectively for this activity. They need to know certain vocabulary words, certain structures of grammar, etc. If the students have not been well prepared for the task at hand, then they will not communicate effectively. Opinion sharing is a content-based activity, whose purpose is to engage students' conversational skills, while talking about something they care about. Opinion sharing is a great way to get more introverted students to open up and share their opinions. If a student has a strong opinion about a certain topic, then they will speak up and share.

Respect is key with this activity.

If a student does not feel like their opinion is respected by the instructor or their peers, then they will not feel comfortable sharing, and they will not receive the communicative benefits of this activity. A scavenger hunt is a mingling activity that promotes open interaction between students. In doing this activity, students have the opportunity to speak with a number of classmates, while still being in a low-pressure situation, and talking to only one person at a time.

After learning more about each other, and getting to share about themselves, students will feel more comfortable talking and sharing during other communicative activities. Since this activity is not as structured as some of the others, it is important for instructors to add structure. If certain vocabulary should be used in students' conversations, or a certain grammar is necessary to complete the activity, then instructors should incorporate that into the scavenger hunt.

Although CLT has been extremely influential in the field of language teaching, it is not universally accepted and has been subject to significant critique. In his critique, he mentions that CLT is not an altogether cohesive subject, but one in which theoretical understandings by linguists and practical understandings by language teachers differ greatly.

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Critique of the theory of CLT includes that it makes broad claims regarding the usefulness of CLT while citing little data, that it uses a large amount of confusing vocabulary, and that it assumes knowledge that is predominately language non-specific ex. Where confusion in the application of CLT techniques is readily apparent is in classroom settings. Swan suggests that CLT techniques often suggest prioritizing the "function" of a language what one can do with the language knowledge one has over the "structure" of a language the grammatical systems of the language.

Swan also suggests that, in CLT techniques, whatever languages a student might already know are not valued or employed in instructional techniques. One of her critiques of CLT is that it implies that there is a generally agreed upon consensus regarding the definition of "communicative competence", which CLT claims to facilitate, when in fact there is not. Because there is not such agreement, students may be seen to be in possession of "communicative competence" without being able to make full, or even adequate, use of the language.

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That an individual is proficient in a language does not necessarily entail that they can make full use of that language, which can limit an individual's potential with that language, especially if that language is an endangered language. This critique is largely to do with the fact that CLT is often highly praised and is popular, when it may not necessarily be the best method of language teaching. Ridge also notes that CLT has nonspecific requirements of its teachers, as there is no completely standard definition of what CLT is; this is especially true for the teaching of grammar the formal rules governing the standardized version of the language in question.

Some critics of CLT suggest that the method does not put enough emphasis on the teaching of grammar and instead allows students to produce utterances which are grammatically incorrect as long as the interlocutor can get some meaning from them. Stephen Bax's critique of CLT has to do with the context of its implementation. Bax asserts that many researchers associate the use of CLT techniques with modernity and, therefore, the lack of CLT techniques as a lack of modernism.

In this way, these researchers consider teachers or school systems which don't use CLT techniques as outdated and suggest that their students learn the target language "in spite of" the absence of CLT techniques, as though CLT were the only way to learn a language and everyone who fails to implement its techniques is ignorant and will not be successful in teaching the target language. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Approach to language education.

ELT Journal. Communicative language teaching: An introduction.

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Cambridge University Press, , pp. Communicative Language Teaching in Practice.


Communicative language teaching today. There are various types of exercises and activities in communicative approach which "help students to achieve the communicative competence, and engage learners in communication" Richards, Communicative activities play vital role in communicative language teaching. These activities are helpful for the teachers to broaden their repertoire of techniques and activities so as to enable the learners to communicate more effectively in foreign language. Communicative activities are purposeful and objective oriented.

According to Littlewood, the communicative activities can be represented diagrammatically as follows. Littlewood, In these two major categories, the first types Pre-communicative activities serve to prepare the learner for later communication. The two sub-categories of pre-communicative activities are:.