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Communicative Approach Verses Grammar Translation Essay


Teaching is a significant element of any academic process, since it plays a vital role of passing information from one individual to another. However, in order to ensure that the learning process is effective, it is essential for teachers to understand various teaching methodologies and their perfect application.

Some of the teaching methodologies that should be embraced by teachers include grammar translation, communicative approach, audio lingual, natural approach (Coleman & Klapper, 2005).

A detailed understanding of these methodologies ensures a quality outcome within the educational system. Excellent execution of these various learning methodologies also makes it easier for students to acquire the knowledge needed for productive purposes.

In order for teachers to, adequately, understand these various teaching methodologies, they should critically compare and contrast these learning methodologies such as the communicative approach with grammar translation method (McDonough & Shaw, 2003). They should compare various aspects of these learning methodologies in an extensive capacity.

This enables them to single out and employ the best learning methodology applicable to varied situations. Therefore, in support of their understanding efforts, this document is going to, critically, asses the communicative approach to language learning and teaching. However, this evaluation process will proceed with an extensive comparison with other teaching approaches.

Communicative approach was first noted in the 1900 century (1970) (Arnold, 1999). A renowned psychoanalyst, Robert Langs, was the individual behind this theory. He employed his psychoanalysis thoughts and came up with an incredible learning methodology, the communicative approach (Richards & Rodgers, 2001).

However, over the years, there have been various myths about Robert’s ideologies. Many people including scholars have interpreted this learning approach in their own perspective thus encouraging bad press on the subject.

Communicative approach begins with the theory of language, regarded as an element of communication. The most significant objective of the communicative approach is to promote excellence in communication (Wilkins, 1974).

Halliday’s functionalist account is also among the theories embraced by the communicative approach. An example of communicative approach is whereby the learner repeats the words said by the instructor. Teachers give their pronunciation of terms as learners repeat or imitate.

Communicative method of learning emphasizes on the use of communication, while in the learning process. In this method, a language is assessed by one’s ability to communicate in the language (Hawkey, 2005). A student’s competency in a language is measured by his effectiveness in communicating in the second language.

Therefore, in teaching English, students’ competencies are measured by their ability to, effectively communicate, in the language. This approach encourages teachers to use communication as the best way to evaluate their students, who wishes to acquire the second language.

Therefore, in learning English, communicative approach encourages the use of communication in teaching English students. In other words, students should communicate more in English for effective understanding of the language.

It is imperative to make some significant considerations, when developing a communicative approach design. One should consider the various levels of objectives. These levels include the integrative level, learning needs, linguistic, interpersonal relationship and general level of education (McKay, 2006).

Communication approach is associated with numerous characteristics. Some of these characteristics are what differentiates this approach from the others. For instance, the communication approach actively engages students in the learning process.

It encourages students to interact in the foreign language, in order to be proficient (Douglas, 2000). Students must engage in active communication among themselves in order to gain the needed skills in the language.

Another characteristic of this approach is that the learning process encourages the use of authentic English texts. These texts assist in making teaching processes effective. In communicative approach, students do not only concentrate on understanding the second language (English), but also insist on the understanding of various strategies required for using this methodology (McKay, 2006).

Understanding learning strategies assist in their perfect execution of learning processes thus ensuring that the methodology is effective while conducting the learning process. This communicative methodology further lays more emphasis on the learner’s encounter with various situations and experiences.

These encounters display various circumstances whereby students are expected to communicate in the nonnative language, English (Wilkins, 1974). Experience with various situations plays a vital part in the lesson or learning process. The unique context of situations provides excellent opportunities for the learning process outside the doors of classrooms.

There are various disadvantages in using the communicative approach, in conducting learning activities. The communicative approach does not encourage the correction of the committed errors (Richards & Nunan, 1990).

This is because students practice with their fellows who are also incompetent in the language. Such students find it hard to correct their mistakes, since the interaction does not engage professional assistance.

Moreover, many students find it frustrating to communicate with their other counterparts from other countries, due to the varied nature of their pronunciation abilities. Since their accents differ, they often have difficulties in communicating with their fellow students (Richards & Nunan, 1990).

Another disadvantage of this method is that it concentrates on fluency but disregards accuracy. This approach does not aim at reducing the errors committed but rather encourages learners to formulate their own methods or tactics of evading the correct language usage. Teachers also often have problems in evaluating their student using this learning approach (McKay, 2006).

This is because most tests are often done in written format, yet this approach proposes for oral evaluation. This thus complicates the evaluation process. Moreover, it is difficult for teachers to correct their students’ errors on grammar, while using communicative approach (Zamel, & Spack, 2002). Teachers cannot correct their students on grammar, since this method only concentrate on communication.

In this approach, any correction is done after the communication exercise. Therefore, teachers using this approach must be brilliant to be able to identify the mistakes while the communication activity process and refer to them later at the end of the process.

Communicative approach is linked to a number of advantages. For instance, the communicative approach gives the real life reflection of the experiences one would find outside classrooms. It gives students an opportunity to have a taste of real communication that will be experienced outside classrooms (Richards & Farrell, 2005).

This enhances the student’s ability to communicate effectively on the various contexts encountered outside classrooms. Another advantage is that communicative approach develops a student’s interest on the non-native language, since it creates various communication scenarios that often seem interesting to students.

In communicative theory, every stakeholder has his own role to play in the learning process. Teachers and students have their specified roles to play for the process to be successful. Learners often act as negotiators between object of studying, self and the studying process itself (Henkil, 2011). Students also act as joint negotiators in various activities within the group or in classrooms.

On the other hand, teachers also have their specific roles. However, they have two roles, which are regarded as extremely significant, while employing communicative approach. One of the major roles for teachers is to facilitate the learning process (Yule, 2010). Teachers should ensure the communication process proceeds with minimal hitches and with the at most cooperation from every stakeholder in the learning process.

In addition to this facilitation role, teachers also act as autonomous participants in the communication process. They also assume other roles such as counselors and analysts while conducting the communication process.

Communicative approach involves a number of steps or procedure for the process to be effective. The first step is by conducting a number of mini-dialogs. A number of oral practices on the content to be presented during day follow the mini-dialog. This is closely followed by another step, which involves the use asking and answering of questions (Zamel & Spack, 2002).

Questions regarding the dialog topic are always asked first followed by questions about the learner’s personal experiences. This is then followed by the learner’s studying various communicative expressions and the underlying rules. Oral recognition and activities then follows, after which students copy the modules. A session is allocated for sampling assignments, which is closely followed by the final step, the evaluation process.

Aside from communicative approach, grammar translation is also a significant methodology of studying nonnative languages. Grammar translation method is among the oldest and most traditional approach used for teaching nonnative languages (Yule, 2010). It traces its origin from Germany, in a place known as Prussia.

Grammar translation was discovered late in the 1700’s and found its way to the headlights in the beginning of the 19th century. It was initially understood as the Prussian method or the classical method before it was named as the Prussian method (Richards & Farrell, 2005). Grammar translation gained significant fame with many schools and teachers adopting the language as a suitable teaching methodology.

It is currently used by various schools in assisting student grasp the concepts of new languages or non-native languages. Therefore, grammar translation method is a teaching approach whereby students learn foreign or new languages via translation and studying of grammar in their learning processes (Larsen-freeman, 2000).

There are various characteristics associated with grammar translation. Grammar translation approaches the study of a foreign language by conducting an extensive study on grammar rules. This process is then closely followed by its application on translating one language to another. Grammar translation concentrates on mastering rules for converting one language to another.

Another characteristic is that grammar translation focuses on writing and reading and not on speaking or listening. This teaching methodology involves the direct translation of words or vocabularies using certain texts, word list or dictionaries (Doughty & Long, 2003). In conducting lessons using grammar translation method, most of the time is devoted to translation of words and sentences.

Grammar translation method insists on accuracy. Students are expected to uphold high translation standards while conducting their learning activities. In Grammar translation, the study of grammar takes a logical analysis perspective thus deductive analysis. This and any other learning process of grammar translation method uses the local language while instructing learners.

The purpose of using grammar translation method was to help learners recognize and learn some of their nonnative languages and literatures. Learning foreign language using grammar translation method was also a strategy to enhance the grammatical understanding of local languages among learners (Henkil, 2011). Moreover, learning foreign languages was a way of growing the intellectual capacity or abilities of learners.

There are various examples that can explicate the use of grammar translation approach of learning the second language. Grammar translation method entails the direct translation of words and sentences from one language to the next. Therefore, a perfect example is the following translation whereby a local language is being translated to English.

English local language. Gardi boy. Randos floor

Several disadvantages emerge when employing grammar translation method. This language learning methodology gives students a reflection of the meaning of languages. It portrays languages as autonomously grouped words that must be pronounced in a certain manner to pass a message.

Grammar translation method insists on using only translation method thus giving language an awful approach or perspective that it can only be well understood by translation method. According to sources, it is noted that students with average intelligent quotient on grammar may fail to comprehend the language effectively (Coleman & Clapper, 2005). Students studying under this learning method often feel frustrated and bored.

This is due to the boring and difficult nature of this learning method. Grammar translation method is extremely unnatural since it ignores the oral part.

The translation process also consumes a lot of time thus wastage of resources. Sentences that are directly translated from other languages often sound funny and with many grammatical errors. Ultimately, this learning process also does not help students learn how to develop excellent pronunciation of words (Gass & Selinker, 2008).

Aside from disadvantages, grammar translation method has a number of advantages, which makes the approach sometimes easier to implement. This method is uncomplicated in implementing thus easy time for teachers to perform their various roles (Wilkins, 1974). It does not require facilitators to be fluent in speaking the non-native language.

Moreover, it does not require facilitators to be proficient or perfect in the language; only basic skills are necessary for the lesson to be a success. Additionally, since learning instructions are given in mother tongue, learning process is relatively easier thus minimizing the time consumed in the learning process (Arnold, 1999).

Grammar translation is extremely common in the current times especially in lessons that contain large number of students. It is the easiest approach to use in a large classroom in order to ensure that the learning process is effective.

Moreover, the method is reliable and effective in proving learners adequate skills for learning and understanding. Students are also able to learn various aspects of their languages as well as mother tongue. Ultimately, it is relatively easier test or evaluates students when using this learning method.

In grammar translation method, teachers have certain significant role that plays a vital role in the success of the learning process. Teachers often act as a symbol of authority, while conducting various learning sessions (Larsen-freeman, 2000). They ensure that order maintains in classes and with minimal hitches. Additionally, teachers also have a lot of talking time thus more attention to their instructions and words.

Aside from the role of teachers, students also have their various roles (Zamel, & Spack, 2002). One of the basic roles for students is to follow the instructions given by their instructors. They must follow each of the directions given by the teacher in order for the learning process to be a success. Moreover, students are expected to be passive and not necessarily active.

In contrasting communicative approach with grammar translation method, communicative approach majorly concentrates on communication between learners, whereas, in grammar translation method, much focus is given on the translation of one language to another (Coleman & Klapper, 2005).

Additionally, in the evaluation process of communicative approach, students are evaluated by their abilities to communicate in foreign language. On the other hand, the evaluation process in grammar translation method takes the written format.

There exist some significant dissimilarity between the characteristics of communicative approach and grammar translation approach. In communicative approach, students are actively engaged in the learning process, whereas, in grammar translation, learners are not actively engaged in the learning process. Their activity is considered as passive (McDonough & Shaw, 2003).

In communicative approach, there is a lot of interaction among students as they conduct their various learning activities. This is in contrary to grammar translation, which does not allow active interaction among students.

In communicative approach, students become proficient by his experiences with varied instance that encourages his or her communication in foreign language, whereas, in grammar translation, learners become proficient by his or her ability comprehend the translation tricks (Wilkins, 1974).

In grammar translation, students must also grasp the grammar rules in order to be successful in the learning process, whereas, in communicative approach, students only have to understand the strategies for communicating in the foreign language.

There also exist considerable differences between the disadvantages and disadvantages of the communicative approach and grammar translation approach. For instance, the communicative approach does not encourage the correction of grammatical mistakes, whereas, in grammar translation, much attention is dedicated to the correction of grammatical errors and mastering of grammatical rules (Doughty & Long, 2003).

Another difference is that, in the communicative approach, there is less concentration on the accuracy of the language; much attention is given to fluency instead. This is contrary to grammar translation method, which put much attention on grammar accuracy and correction of errors.

In communicative approach, facilitators often find it difficult to assess their students, since the assessment is done orally, whereas, in grammar translation, the assessment is done in written format thus easier for teachers to conduct the evaluation process (Gass & Selinker, 2008).

Communicative approach provides students with the opportunity to experience the possible communication instances that they may face outside school (Coleman & Klapper, 2005).

On the contrary, grammar translation method does not give students opportunity to experience real life communication instances that they may meet outside classrooms. As noted before, most students often enjoy studying foreign language using communicative method, since it is very interesting.

This is different in grammar translation process whereby students often feel bored due to the uninteresting nature of the learning methodology (Zamel, & Spack, 2002). Therefore, most students learning foreign language using the communicative approach often develop interest on the language, which is a contrary to the ones using grammatical translation.

In communicative approach, teacher often have difficulties in conducting lesson activities, since they are responsible for various significant roles. In grammatical translation, however, teachers often find it easy to conduct various learning activities. This is because it allows the use of mother tongue thus easier for teachers to give students instructions (Hawkey, 2005).

Moreover, in communicative approach, teachers are expected to be fluent or proficient in the foreign language, whereas, in grammatical translation method, facilitators only need to have basic knowledge about the foreign language.

It is easier for teachers to evaluate or test their students using grammar translation method, since the test is offered in written form. This is not the same in communicative approach since it uses oral tests, which is extremely difficult for teachers to use as an evaluation process.

References

Arnold, J. (1999). Affect in language learning. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Coleman, J. & Klapper, J. (2005). Effective learning and teaching in modern languages. London, LDN: Routledge Falmer.

Doughty, C. & Long, M. (2003). The Handbook of second language acquisition. Malden, MA: Oxford Blackwell.

Douglas, D. (2000). Assessing languages for specific purposes. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Gass, S. & Selinker, L. (2008). Second language acquisition: an introductory course. London, LDN: Routledge.

Hawkey, R. (2005). A modular approach to testing English language skills: the development of the Certificates in English Language Skills (CELS) examinations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Henkil, E. (2011). Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Larsen-freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and principles in language teaching. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

McDonough, J. & Shaw, C. (2003). Materials and methods in ELT: a teacher’s guide. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

McKay, P. (2006). Assessing young language learners. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. & Farrell, T. (2005). Professional development for language teachers: strategies for teacher learning (Thomas Sylvester Charles). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press 2005.

Richards, J. & Nunan, D. (1990). Second Language teacher education. Oxford, OX: Oxford University Press.

Richards, J. & Rodgers, T. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. (1990). The language-teaching matrix. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Wilkins, D. (1974). Second-language learning and teaching. London, LDN: Edward Arnold.

Yule, G. (2010). The study of language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Zamel, V. & Spack, R. (2002). Enriching Esol Pedagogy: Readings and Activities for Engagement, Reflection, and Inquiry. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

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