View context for this page View table of contents for this book View table of contents for LinguaLinksLibrary Go to LinguaLinks home page

Communicative language teaching



Communicative language teaching began in Britain in the 1960s as a replacement to the earlier structural method, called Situational Language Teaching. This was partly in response to Chomsky's criticisms of structural theories of language and partly based on the theories of British functional linguistis, such as Firth and Halliday, as well as American sociolinguists, such as Hymes , Gumperz and Labov and the writings of Austin and Searle on speech acts.

Theory of language

The functional view of language is the primary one behind the communicative method, as well as

Theory of learning

Not a great deal has been written about the learning theory behind the communicative approaches, but here are some principlesthat may be inferred:

  • activities that involve real communication promote learning
  • activities in which language is used for carrying out meaningful tasks promote learning
  • language that is meaningful to the learner promotes learning

Here are some of the objectives of Communicative Language Teaching:

  • students will learn to use languge as a means of expression
  • students will use language as a means of expressing values and judgments
  • students will learn to express the functions that best meet their own communication needs.
The syllabus

Communicative language teaching often uses a functional-notional syllabus. Yalden(1987) has classified a number of communicative syllabus types.

Types of learning techniques and activities

Communicative language teaching uses almost any activity that engages learners in authentic communication. Littewood, however has distinguished two major activity types:

  • functional communication activities: ones aimed at developing certain language skillsand functions, but which involve communication, and
  • social interaction activities, such as conversation and discussion sessions, dialogues and role plays

It is difficult to summarize the procedure in communicative classes because of the wide variety of activities used.

Context for this page:

Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 3.5, published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 1999. [Ordering information.]

Page content last modified: 21 March 1999

© 1999 SIL International