The Communicative Language Teaching
The origins of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach or Communicative approach date back to 1960. Until then, the CLT was the main method for teaching English to foreign students.
It was in 1970 that the approach began to expand. Before then, the students kept listening and repeating the pronunciation and grammar of dialogues instead of focusing on communication procedures. Proponents of CLT stated that too much emphasis was given to the repetition of concepts and this did not help students to acquire the appropriate communication skills. First and foremost the CLT aims at helping the students to use the language in different contexts and create sentences with complete meaning rather than sentences with perfect grammar. This means that the foreign language is learned based on how the student develops his communication skills.
The communicative approach appeared when the field of foreign languages was ready for a radical change. The Communicative approach and the Audio-Linguistic approach were very effective and for this reason they were almost considered a method.
Main procedures of the CLT:
– Students learn the language through communication.
– An authentic communication flow will be the focus of the activities developed in the classroom.
– The notification shall include the integration of the various skills of language.
– Learning is a process of creative construction that includes trial and error.
Among the activities carried out in class are those in pairs or groups, which have as a main goal that of teaching negotiation and cooperation among students. These activities also focus on the acquisition of fluidity to help students increase their confidence. Using stimulation games, in which students improve their language functions and practice activities also focused on acquiring a correct use of grammar and pronunciation. Moreover there are also alternative activities such as talks, exchange of information between students, games, interviews, and group projects.
Johnson and Johnson identify five key features that highlight the current applications of this methodology:
1. Appropriateness: the use of the language reflects its own appropriateness depending on the situation, the role of the participants, and objectives of the communication. So the students will be able to use the language in a formal setting that is at the same time casual.
2. The crux of the message: the students must be able to create and understand the underlying message .
3. Psycholinguistic processes: CLT activities are aimed at improving the students’ cognitive abilities and other processes that are important during the acquisition of a second language.
4. Take risks: students are encouraged to participate and in this way to be wrong in order for them to learn from their own mistakes. In doing so, students are also tempted to apply different communication strategies.
5. Free practice: the CLT involves the simultaneous use of a variety of sub skills rather than practicing individual skills one piece at a time.
Currently, the Communicative Language Teaching continues in its classical form, and is adopted by many textbooks and courses. It also influenced many approaches and methods in language teaching because it is considered one of the most comprehensive ever, also because it includes all the basic techniques of teaching. It is an approach that allows students to be free and to communicate in an almost autonomous way from the very beginning. The student has a very active role in the classroom and this means he can acquire greater confidence.