Critique Essay: Communicative language teaching

  1. Select one method to analyze/critique in detail (You need to think about the history, general features, and some questions like “why was the method developed for whom?”etc.)

The method that is selected for this paper is the communicative language teaching. The communicative language teaching incorporates the fluency rather than accuracy as was done historically. CLT is changing the face of foreign language learning and teaching, and it provides directives for teaching and practicing the language in the classroom (Littlewood, 1981).

CLT has recently become a popular and authentic method of learning, and this has become the norm of the field. There is a long history of language-learning teaching, and different approaches have been used for this purpose (Brown, 2014).In the era of 1940 and 1950, the major aim of the learning was to develop the behavioristically programmed curriculums based on the scientific aspects of learning using the linguistic structures and impinging them on the mind of the learners. In the 1960s, Chomsky introduced generative grammar and the purpose of which was hot to inject the cognitive code of language into the process of absorption. This approach was to root the language learning at the cognitive level rather than surface level; therefore, it allowed the learners to think in the particular language. This is the reason that the change of thought can be observed among the bilingual persons when they use different languages for writing and speaking. In the 1970s, there emerged experimental methods, and the early 1980s saw the beginning of CLT. Between 1980 and 1990, this approach was furthered developed, and this was made to fit into the classroom environment by the development of curriculum, incorporating authenticity, real-world simulation, and maneuverability with the meaningful tasks.

Presently, the evolution of learning methods is still in progress and beyond the linguistic factors, we are probing into the sociolinguistic and pragmatic features of the language as well. This allows the implementation of various pedagogical means into the real-life communication that is set in the classroom. This ensures that students learn the language in the unrehearsed environments, and they are able to use it in the actual unrehearsed environments i.e. their lives. The lives are not rehearsed, according to Shakespeare, life is a stage show; however, I will personally reflect upon this is that this is an unrehearsed stage show. Therefore, the demand for unrehearsed applicability and functionality with spontaneity is very high, and this is the reason that CLT is widely being adopted.

  1. Analyze positive and negative characteristics of the method. This requires additional research outside of the class readings. You need to add what the negative/positive features mean to you and your (future) teaching.

Following are the main features of the CLT technique:

  1. The classroom goals are spread through all the components including discourse, functional, grammatical, strategic and sociolinguistic components of communication. All these goals are intertwined to serve the organizational aspects.
  2. CLT uses the specifically designed language techniques to engage the learning in more pragmatic, functional and authentic use of language for meaningful purposes. The forms of language are not the main focus, but these are the means that enable to learners to achieve the language purposes
  3. Accuracy and fluency are deemed as concomitant aspects of the communicative technique; fluency is sometimes more important that the accuracy keeps the learner engaged in learning the use of language
  4. The students are exposed to unrehearsed scenarios outside their classroom environment where they have to use their communication skills; the classroom tasks are therefore intended to equip the students with these skills.
  5. Students are provided the learning facilities so that they can learn in their own way according to their natural learning style and also through the mechanism developed for autonomous learning
  6. The teacher plays the role of the facilitator and anchorperson; the teacher does not play the role of the bestower of knowledge. The students, therefore, develop learning patterns through linguistic interactions with others

CLT requires the communicative and dynamic conventions (Hall & Hewings, 2013). These characteristics reflect major deviations from the earlier approaches. The most of the emphasis of the traditional methods in the curricula were on the structure; however, the main focus of the CLT is pragmatic learning and engagement to deliver meaningful results. CLT does not ignore the value of grammar; however, it asserts that the grammatical structure can be better understood in functional scenarios rather than theoretical or static scenarios. In order to fill the gap of authenticity, a great deal of authentic language is applied to construct fluency, therefore, this approach proactively and ‘ab-initio’ incorporates the authenticity in it. Although the aim of the CLT is to achieve the fluency and functionality, however, it does not give the meaning that it should be obtained at the cost of unambiguous, clear and direct communication. It urges for much more spontaneity that is required for functional linguistic activity, and most of the scenarios used in this approach are unrehearsed. Further, the role of the teacher is that of a facilitator to students rather than bestower of knowledge; the purpose of the teacher is to act as a catalyst in the class to increase the learning environment while allowing the students for active learning rather than passive learning.

CLT, on the other hand, could be difficult for the non-native persons and those who are not very proficient in the language. The reason behind is that the drills, dialogues, and discussions of grammar rules are very simpler for native teachers as compared to nonnative speakers. CLT does not restrict the use of technology, and it encourages the use of technology such as television, audiovisuals, computer software, etc. There is increasing concern about gaining proficiency on languages because of the increased level of globalization, and this is the reason that the countries are becoming more sensitive to the communicating process.

  1. In addition, describe how the features of the method are relevant to the effectiveness of the classroom and your lesson. You need to focus more on the practical perspectives and consider how you will use the method when you develop a lesson. You also need to think about how you can use the strong points to make your lesson effective and minimize the weaknesses of the method.

Some important aspects need to be considered to ensure the effective of the CLT. First, there is a need to avoid giving lip service to the principles of the CLT and other things such as interactive teaching, cooperative learning, learner-centered classes and content centered education. The understanding of the underlying spirit of this method is necessary. Further, there are various sub-aspects of CLT, which needs to be ensured. Some of the important features of CLT include the importance of meaning, use of dialogues, stress on contextualization, language learning for communication sake, comprehensible pronunciation, use of tools and devices, use of translations when necessary and seeking communicative competency (Paulston, 1992). Of course, the main goal of CLT is communicative competency rather than making them autonomous and spontaneous to the memorized grammatical structure. This approach accepts the aspect that language was made through trial and error process; it was not correct or authentic from its very first day. The authenticity established with the passage of time and became the commonality in the communication so that it became a common law to speak the language in a particular way just as the common laws have been adopted in the legal field.

Works Cited

Brown, D. (2014). Teaching-by-principles. Retrieved 2 28, 2016, from https://pedufopenglish.files.wordpress.com: https://pedufopenglish.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/teaching-by-principles-douglas-brown.pdf

Hall, D., & Hewings, A. (2013). Innovation in English Language Teaching: A Reader. Routledge.

Littlewood, W. (1981). Communicative Language Teaching: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press.

Paulston, C. B. (1992). Linguistic and Communicative Competence: Topics in ESL. Multilingual Matters.