- Learning Theory: Little is known about the learning theory of “The Communicative Approach”. Activities that involve real communication promote learning. Language that is meaningful to the learner supports the learning process.
- Language Theory: Language is for communication. The goal of language teaching is to develop “communicative competence“. Using the language appropriately in social contexts is important and communicative competence should be acquired.
What is language according to the Communicative Approach?
A)Language is a system for expression of meaning.
B) The primary function of language is for interaction and communication.
C) The structure of language reflects its functional and communicative uses.
D) The primary units of language are not merely its grammatical and structural features, but
categories of functional and communicative meaning as exemplified in discourse
3.Culture: Culture is the everyday life of people. There are some important aspects of language which are important to communication; for instance, the use of non-verbal behaviour. Body language, which may differ from culture to culture
4.Teacher’s Role: The teacher is a facilitator of his/her students’ learning. He/she is a manager of classroom activities. He/she acts as an advisor and monitors students’ performance
5.Students’ Role: Students are communicators. They are engaged in negotiating meaning actively. Students are responsible are responsible managers of their own learning
6.Interactions: St-st interactions take place very often. Students benefit from group work, pair work, group discussions, projects…etc
7.Vocabulary Teaching: Meaning is paramount. Meaning should be conveyed through visual aids, real objects, models, and context. Vocabulary should be taught within the context
8.Grammar Teaching: Each linguistic form has a function. One function may be expressed with different forms.
e.g. (Asking for permission “May I go out?” Or “Would you let me go out?” etc.)
In addition, different forms may have one function.
E.g. (The modal “can” has various functions)
“I can lift this chair” = ability
“It can rain today” = strong possibility
“Can I use your telephone?” = asking for permission
Functions are taught explicitly. Grammatical explanations can be given explicitly if it is believed to be useful for the acquisition of the form and function.
- Materials: Authentic materials. Articles from magazines or newspapers, songs, short stories, advertisements…etc., which are used by native speakers in real life are used as class materials. Communicative activities (information gap, opinion gap activities) are used to promote students’ communication in classes. Pictures, and other visual aids and realia are very important to support meaning. Task based activities are also used to promote students’ involvement in classes.
- Syllabus: Usually (but not always) functional-notional syllabus is used (e.g. frequency, motion, location).
- Role of L1: Students’ L1 has no particular role in the Communicative Approach. L2 should be used during not only activities, but also when the teacher is giving explanations, instructions, and homework. Students should see L2 as a tool for communication, not a subject to study.
- Evaluation: The teacher evaluates students’ accuracy and fluency. The teacher may give communicative tests, which are integrative tests and which have real communicative function. The teacher may tell students to write a letter to a friend to test their writing skill. Improvisation of a situation orally can also be a means of evaluation of the students’ oral performance.
- Goals and Objectives: To make students communicatively competent (i.e., being able to use the target language appropriately in a given context). For this reason, students need knowledge of linguistic forms, meanings, and functions. Students must know that many different forms can be used to perform a function, and one single form can serve a variety of functions. Students should be able to choose the most appropriate form for a specific function.
- Error Correction: Errors of form can be tolerated since they are natural outcome of the development of communication skills. Students can have limited linguistic knowledge and still be successful communicators.
- Sts’ Feelings: Students’ motivation is important. Students should feel that they are learning something useful for their lives. Students’ security is enhanced by many opportunities for co-operative interactions with their fellow students and the teacher. The teacher gives students an opportunity to express ideas and opinions on a regular basis so that students integrate the target language with their own personality. Thus, they feel more secure about using the target language. Games, dramas and other enjoyable activities are used to make classroom atmosphere better, more friendly and relaxing.
a) Authentic Materials: Genuine materials from newspapers, magazines, videos from real English TV channels, menus, time tables, etc is used.
b) Scrambled Sentences: for cohesion and coherence.
c) Language Games: In order to provide valuable communicative practice of the target
d) Picture Strip Story: This activity provides opinion gaps. Students discuss which activity should come first.
e) Role Play: this technique provides the opportunity to practise the target language in
various social contexts. If the role plays is unprepared improvisation it also provides
genuine communication (i.e., information gap – natural unpredictability of what each
participant will say to each other).
17. Skills and Language Areas: Language functions are emphasised over forms. The target language is taught at supra sentential or discourse level, too. Students learn cohesion and coherence. Conversation structure in the target language is also reviewed. The four language skills are learnt from the very beginning. “Skimming, and “Scanning” in reading and listening are improved.