Throughout the history of education, various methods were applied for teaching foreign languages depending on the available means and primary instruction goals. Some of them were based on translation and detection of similarities with the native language, and others were mainly devoted to grammar. However, since the 1960s communication language teaching has globally become the mainstream approach. Its application was highly encouraged by the need for increased interaction between various countries caused by rapidly developing transportation networks and business ties. Still, the efficiency of this approach is relatively variable and significantly depends on its correct implementation by the teacher. Therefore, a review of the critical contents of the communicative teaching method, its advantages, and setbacks is a valuable task deserving specific attention.
The approach being considered covers an extensive set of contents going beyond simple language learning. Its primary concept is to develop communication skills by providing the students with an ability “to learn in the language and to learn to use the language” (Dos Santos, 2020, p. 105). This implies that linguistic capabilities should be augmented by obtaining competence in communication strategies and cultural aspects. Therefore, students are encouraged to find learning materials from their communities and surroundings. The texts offered by teachers mainly reflect some interesting cultural aspects or problems relevant to the audience. This is also supplemented by the intent to avoid using the native language during their discussions and daily activities. Such an approach allows developing interaction skills applicable under any circumstances.
The communicative language teaching method has several advantages arising from its basic principles. First, it is a “student-centered and situation-oriented” method, which makes the teaching process more engaging (Dos Santos, 2020, p. 106). Since the discussion topics are familiar to the students and important to them, they are more likely to participate in it and express their ideas. Moreover, understanding the applicability of the vocabulary they are given, learners pay more attention to mastering it. The level of student involvement can be further increased by fostering their interaction with teachers and peers, as well as various social media platforms for specific tasks. Finally, the ability to apply the knowledge obtained in the classroom in daily life and at the workplace emphasizes its importance and becomes a motivating factor. Therefore, the application of this teaching method increases overall communication abilities, understanding of language use, and its feasibility.
However, the approach under review also has some critical disadvantages, which need to be taken into account. The primary one is related to the incorrect interpretation of the teacher’s role in it. It has been found that without direct relation to the lesson content and its objectives, all the communication activities become meaningless in terms of language proficiency (Alamri, 2018). Therefore, a professor needs to provide more feedback, correct errors, guide the conversation, and evaluate its participants. Second, its proper application can be complicated by many students coming from societies with predominantly traditional approaches and preferring to memorize vocabulary and grammar instead of participating in the discussions (Dos Santos, 2020). Large classroom sizes can also be a factor not allowing the teacher to monitor communication and effectively guide it. Finally, this approach often results in inferior writing skills as it pays insufficient attention to grammar learning (Alamri, 2018). All these aspects constitute substantial limitations for the predominant use of communicative teaching method.
The discussion provided above shows the controversial character of this approach. The view of communication as the primary source of learning has made it popular throughout the world. Increased involvement of students in their classes enhances their progress and makes lessons less tedious. However, its predominant application often leads to a degradation of grammar knowledge and writing skills necessary for all business and academic interactions. Therefore, the communicative method should be viewed as a valuable constituent within a comprehensive teaching approach tailored to the audience and its needs.
Dos Santos, L. M. (2020). The discussion of communicative language teaching approach in language classrooms. Journal of Education and e-Learning Research, 7(2), 104–109. Web.
Alamri, W. A. (2018). Communicative language teaching: Possible alternative approaches to CLT and teaching contexts. English Language Teaching, 11(10), 132–138. Web.