Communicative Language Teaching

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Communicative Language Teaching Today
Jack C. Richards

cambridge university press

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo Cambridge University Press 32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473, USA © Cambridge University Press 2006 This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. Communicative Language Teaching Today is distributed with permission from SEAMEO Regional Language Centre and is part of the Portfolio series by SEAMEO Regional Language Centre which holds the copyright to this material. First published 2006 Printed in the United States of America isbn-13

978-0-521-92512-9 paperback

Book layout services: Page Designs International

Table of Contents
Introduction 1 2

1 2 3 4 5 6

What Is Communicative Language Teaching? The Background to CLT 6

Classroom Activities in Communicative Language Teaching Current Trends in Communicative Language Teaching 22


Process-Based CLT Approaches – Content-Based Instruction and Task-Based Instruction 27 Product-Based CLT Approaches – Text-Based Instruction and Competency-Based Instruction 36 Conclusions References 45 46

The ever-growing need for good communication skills in English has created a huge demand for English teaching around the world. Millions of people today want to improve their command of English or to ensure that their children achieve a good command of English. And opportunities to learn English are provided in many different ways such as through formal instruction, travel, study abroad, as well as through the media and the Internet. The worldwide demand for English has created an enormous demand for quality language teaching and language teaching materials and resources. Learners set themselves demanding goals. They want to be able to master English to a high level of accuracy and fluency. Employers, too, insist that their employees have good English language skills, and fluency in English is a prerequisite for success and advancement in many fields of employment in today’s world. The demand for an appropriate teaching methodology is therefore as strong as ever. In this booklet we will examine the methodology known as communicative language teaching, or CLT, and explore the assumptions it is based on, its origins and evolution since it was first proposed in the 1970s, and how it has influenced approaches to language teaching today. Since its inception in the 1970s, CLT has served as a major source of influence on language teaching practice around the world. Many of the issues raised by a communicative teaching methodology are still relevant today, though teachers who are relatively new to the profession may not be familiar with them. This booklet therefore serves to review what we have learned from CLT and what its relevance is today.

Communicative Language Teaching Today 1


What Is Communicative Language Teaching?

Perhaps the majority of language teachers today, when asked to identify the methodology they employ in their classrooms, mention “communicative” as the methodology of choice. However, when pressed to give a detailed account of what they mean by “communicative,” explanations vary widely. Does communicative language teaching, or CLT, mean teaching conversation, an absence of grammar in a course, or an emphasis on open-ended discussion activities as the main features of a course? What do you understand by communicative language teaching? Task 1 Which of the statements below do you think characterizes communicative language teaching? 1. People learn a language best when using it to do things rather than through studying how language works and practicing rules. 2. Grammar is no longer important in language teaching. 3. People learn a language through...
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