Communicative Language Learning activitiesPart 3 of our Series on Communicative Language Teaching by Kemp Carroll

This article analyses the Ten Core Assumptions of Current Communicative Language Teaching highlighted in a booklet entitled Communicative Language Teaching Today published by Cambridge University Press and authored by Jack C. Richards. His points are highlighted in bold print.

We will show you how Communicative Language Learning is the natural next step rooted in Communicative Language Teaching.

5. Language learning is facilitated both by activities that involve
inductive or discovery learning of underlying rules of language
use and organisation, as well as by those involving language
analysis and reflection.

We’ll have to disagree with Mr. Richards here as these methods lean towards an academic approach to learning a language (see previous point). Which is not the point of Communicative Language Training which is trying to avoid the old approaches to learning a language in the first place.

However, Communicative Language Learning methods are activities based to an extensive degree. But the activities are not grammar oriented or language structure oriented. Better it is to absorb these things through innovative use of the language and by repetition without boredom.

6. Language learning is a gradual process that involves creative use
of language, and trial and error. Although errors are a normal
product of learning, the ultimate goal of learning is to be able to
use the new language both accurately and fluently.

The first question here is how accurate do language learners need to be? (That will depend on each student, his goals and motivations). Focusing too much on accuracy can discourage students and take them out of the game. Since the key word in Communicative Language Training is actually to be communicative or to be “ready to talk or impart information” and not write technical manuals or translate Tolstoy – then shouldn’t the focus should be on communicating. While some learn to speak a second language like an expert, at least from an academic viewpoint, and their grammar is perfect, from a textbook viewpoint, and can often better than native speakers, we’ve all experienced that – does these mean they can communicate? Not necessarily. And often, not at all.

Communicative Language Training teachers need to focus on accurate communication and not on textbook accuracy. We want our students to communicate and thus a language course should be Communicative Language Learning oriented. This is done through pair work, work circles and other methods that maximise student talking time in interactive exchanges and reduce teacher talking time to an absolute minimum.

to be continued in part 4

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