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Communicative Approach

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Origin of CommunicativeApproach

In 1960's and 70's foreign language learning was widely extended with the establishment of comprehensive schools. Led to the teaching of a foreign language to virtually all children. Created pressure for a change in teaching methods and curriculi to suit the needs of non-traditional groups of learners. Recognition of inadequacy of traditional grammar/translation methods and also of 'structural' methods with emphasis on meaningless pattern drills and repetition. New syllabuses took into account needs of different pupils. Traditional academic syllabuses had assumed learner's goal was in-depth mastery of target language. But for less academic pupil a more immediate 'pay-off' was necessary, in terms of usefulness for practical purposes.


An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language. The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation. The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on language but also on the Learning Management process. An enhancement of the learners own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning. An attempt to link classroom language learning with language activities outside the classroom.

Communicative Approachs Assumptions Language

is primarily a tool of communication. Learning a language means learning to perform communicative speech acts with it. is something called a "communicative syllabus" which replaces and is superior to a structural syllabus"


Communicative Approachs Assumptions 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 communicative teaching is learner-centred, not teacher-centred.


Communicative Approachs Assumptions What

matters most is not whether learners learn to use the language accurately. What matters is that they learn to get their message across The classroom and the behaviour of teachers and learners in the classroom should be as similar as possible to the behaviour of people in the "real world" outside the classroom

Widdowson -- Teaching Language as Communication

When we acquire the language we do not only learn how to compose and comprehend correct sentences as isolated language units of random occurrence; we also learn how to use sentences appropriately to achieve a communicative purpose i.e. communicative competence.

Communicative Competence It

is an ability, not only to apply the grammatical rules of a language in order to form grammatically correct sentences, but also to know when and where to use these sentences-in other words, appropriately

Dimensions of Communicative Competence

Canale and Swain(1980)-Grammatical competence (Chomsky's notion of Linguistic Competence) -Socio-linguistic Competence ( Understanding the Social Context) -Discourse Competence (Interpretation of Individual Message Elements) -Strategic Competence (Coping Strategies)


an exercise: has a purely linguistic application (often practice for practices sake) a task: has a real world outcome which the language helps achieve Implications of task orientation: focus of a lesson is not on the present progressive tense, but on talking about plansplans that learners could well make themselves and ideally, plans they will actually carry out with pair or group work, there should be some resulting outcome that can be used in the next phase of the lesson, not just practice for practices sake, e.g., you will practice this activity in pairs in order to


(2) Needs-Based when designing curriculum: how are my students most likely to use English? when modifying curriculum: how would my students most likely use this language? for data: query students, other teachers, former students observe interactions that people like your students

engage in (be they native or non-native speakers)


transparency: show why we are doing this and why we are doing it in this particular way personalize whenever possible exploit materials to the fullest and scaffold learners so that they always get to use the language off the page as well as on the page running notes can help teachers respond to what actually happened as well as what was in the lesson plan

COMMUNICATIVE LESSONS ARE (4) Contextualized -relate to learners experience -relate to course objectives and previous and future lesson features -make lesson activities inter-related , as well having all activity items in the same context


in discourse (language presentations and all subsequent activities)

use discourse that wasnt created only to teach language develop topics and situations as we really interact in them

in communicative events

engage in the kinds of things we really do with language in the real world ensure that the activitys discourse structure is faithful to reality choose situations that learners can easily imagine themselves engaging in

in learning experiences

appeal to a variety of learning strategies and styles structure activities to correspond to our notion of what effective learning is


(6) Aligned with Course/Instructional Objectives

- great activities alone typically do not result in great lessons(See Contextualized above)

(7) Situated in Discourse (Gee: Discourse is language plus all that other stuff)

- just getting the language right isnt enoughwe haveto get the behaviors, conventions, roles, and practices that go with the language right as well.

COMMUNICATIVE LESSONS ARE (8) Sources of Comprehensible, Negotiated Input

maintain a high ratio of language use in relation to time spent talking about language pair and small group problem-solving increases interaction and negotiation activities are structured so that students have opportunities to experiment with language (at the appropriate moment in the lessonyou need a foundation before you can experiment) scaffolding is highly valued debriefing is encouraged lexical items are reintroduced in and across lessons attention is paid to reintegrating previously taught features into later lessons

(9) Recursive

COMMUNICATIVE LESSONS ARE(10) Sequenced with Attention to Learning and Acquisition

Movement from Acquisition Activities to Learning Activities (to Acquisition Activities) Acquisition activities: engage in rich, authentic discourse for its own sake; the teacher scaffolds the student discovery process rather than following an explicit, directed, and pre-established activity structure Learning Activities: are clearly sequenced and follow explicit explanation and models: they support the students learning and allow them to access structures and language they may not yet have acquired.

Provide students with the language, skills, and strategies necessary to successfully carry out the activities (e.g., you need a lot more than the present perfect tense to be able to carry out an authentic job interview role play).


Facilitator Provider of real life situations Active and Activator Dialogue Builder Innovative user of grammar Error Neglector Language appropriacy creator Motivator & Researcher

Basic Principles for Learners

Learners are often more motivated with this approach as they have an interesting what is being communicated, as the lesson is topic or theme based. Learners are encouraged to speak and communicate from day one, rather than just barking out repetitive phrases Learners practice the target language a number of times, slowly building on accuracy Language is created by the individual, often through trial and error Learners interact with each other in pairs or groups, to encourage a flow of language and maximize the percentage of talking time, rather than just teacher to student and vice versa Unless the focus is on the accuracy stage of the lesson, learners are corrected at the end of an activity so as not to interrupt their thought process



CA increases the amount of students talking time and gives them an opportunity to express themselves. CA encourages student-student interaction and co-operation. CA removes inhibitions of those who feel intimidated by formal classroom activities. Activities centered around the students make them feel proud and confident. Activities of CA provides them a chance to play with their language resources. CA supplies the learner a great deal of practice in using appropriate word with appropriate usage. CA offers the learners exposures to mushroomed their knowledge of language without learning the rules and regulations.


Organization of group activity is difficult to handle. An average teacher cannot make this approach successful. The student may become careless and prove to making more and more mistakes. Difficult to apply techniques of CA in overcrowded class. Too much use of mother tongue may not arouse keen desire to use target language. Creative noise may lead to chaos.