Communicative Language Teaching

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COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING: A PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE FOR THE ENGLISH TEACHER

EDGAR ALIRIO INSUASTY

Communicative Language Teaching or Communicative Approach (CA) can be defined as one of the most widespread and prevailing pedagogical options to conduct a language lesson. It has brought a lot of important contributions to the professional field of language teaching. To start with, let’s mention its emphasis, unlike Audiolingual Method, on developing learners’ Communicative Competence rather than building up their linguistic competence. Another is the retrieval of the purposeful nature of language by promoting the practice of functions such as the instrumental (“I want”), regulatory (“do as I tell you”), interactional (“me and you”), personal (“here I come”), heuristic (“tell me why”), imaginative (“let’s pretend”) and informative (“I’ve got something to tell you.)

Other defining features of CA are skill integration, learner-centeredness, appreciation of errors as a natural part of learning language, use of task-based, text based and authentic materials, enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning. These features constitute the core of CA as a teaching philosophy which is aimed at meeting the interactional needs and desires of learners as well as establishing the connection between the language as it is taught in their class and as it used outside the classroom. As can be seen, CA is a beautiful, fashionable and promising theory with a wide acceptance.

However, a number of research projects like the ones conducted by Zambrano & Insuasty , Cardona & Quintero and Nunan have suggested a mismatch between communicative teaching principles and intentions as advocated by methodologists and teachers and what actually happens in the English classrooms. In this sense, it is also interesting to notice the extent to which most of our high schools share a lot of the practical difficulties that



Cited: Cardona, Gloria, and Josefina Quintero. Una mirada investigativa al aula de inglés de Lenguas Extranjeras. Centro editorial Universidad de Caldas, 1996. Consejo de Europa. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Cambridge University Press, 2001. Deckert, Glenn. The communicative approach: addressing frequent failure. English Teaching Forum Online. 42.1 (2004): 1-4. Hedge, Tricia. Teaching and learning in the language classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Nunan, David. Communicative Language Teaching: making it work. ELT Journal 41.2 (1987): 136-145. Savignon, Sandra. Communicative language teaching for the twenty-first century. Heinle & Heinle. 2001. Zambrano Lilian Cecilia, and Edgar Alirio Insuasty. Aplicación del enfoque comunicativo a la enseñanza-aprendizaje del inglés en los establecimientos de secundaria en Neiva. Entornos. No. 14. Universidad Surcolombiana, 2001.

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