Approaches in Language Teaching

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The origins of CLT are to be found in the changes in the British language teaching tradition dating from the late 1960´s. Until then, Situational Language Teaching represented the major british approach to teaching english as a foreign language. In slt , language was taught by practicing basic structures in meaningful situation-based activities. But British linguistis saw the need to focus in language teaching on communicative profiency rather than on mere mastery of structures.

Another impetus for different approaches to foreign language teaching came from changing educational realities in Europe. With the increasing interdependence of European countries came the need for greater efforts to teach adults the major languages of the European Common Market. The Council of Europe , a regional organization for cultural and educational cooperation, examined the problem. Education was one of the Council of Europe´s major areas of activity. The need to develop alternative methods of language teaching was considered a high priority.

Wilkings in 1972 proposed a functional or communicative definition of language that could serve as a basis for developing communicative syllabuses for language teaching. Rather than describe the core of language throug traditional concepts of grammar and vocabulary, Wilkings attempted to demonstrate the systems of meaning that lay behind the communicative uses of language. He described two types of meanings : notional categories ( concepts such as time, sequence, quantity, location, frequency ) and categories of communicative functions ( requests, denials, offers, complaints )

The work of the Council of Europe; the writings of Wilkings, and other British linguists on the theoretical basis for a communicative or functional approach to language teaching; the rapid application of these ideas by textbooks writers gave prominence to what came to be refered to as COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING. It is considered an approach { not a method } because there is no single text or authority on it, nor any single model that is universally accepted as authoritative,

Littlewood in 1981 states that “ one of the most characteristic features of communicative language teaching is that it pays systematic attention to functional as well as structural aspects of language “.

For others, it means using procedures where learners work in pairs or groups employing available language resources in problem- solving tasks.

Howatt distinguishes between a strong and a weak version of CLT The weak version stresses the importance of providing learners with opportunities to use their english for communicative purposes and, attemps to integrate such activities into a wider program of language teaching. The strong version claims that language is acquired through communication, so that it is a question lo stimulating the development of the language system itself.

Firth stressed that language needed to be studied in the broader sociocultural context of its use, which included participants, their behavior and beliefs, the objects of linguistic discussion , and word choice. CLT is learner-centered and experience-based.

Theory of language

CLT starts from a theory of language as communication.
The goal of language teaching is to develop what Hymes names “ communicative competence “. ......................................................................................................................................................

Theory of learning

Little has been written about it.
Elements of an underlying learning theory can be discerned in some CLT practices, however. 1- One such element might be described as the communication principle: Activities that involve real communication promote learning. 2- A second element is the task principle: Activities in which language is used for...
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