- Theory and concept of CLT
- Pros and cons of CLT
- The learners and the teachers role in CLT
- Assessment for listening, reading and speaking
- Principle of learning material design for CLT
- The purpose of CLT in language classroom
- Activities for reading, listening and speaking in CLT
- Communicative competence
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Theory and concept of CLT
Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is concerned with the procedures and the purposes in the classroom learning. Therefore, the theoretical concept of CLT is the communicative competence (Nunans & Richards, 1990).
This means that CLT should help learners become fluent in the spoken and the written language. The definitive principle of CLT is communicative competence and Brown (2006) stated that learners could achieve communicative competence through four skills. These skills include grammatical, strategic, socio linguistic and the discourse competencies.
Grammatical competence is imperative because it suffered from neglect when the communicative approach started. For instance, Brown (2006) explains that grammatical competence is a requirement in our daily communication because we communicate through exploitation of the language structures.
On the other hand, strategic competence involves the mastery of the verbal and the non-verbal communication approaches that are useful for the reparation and augmentation of communication (Jones & Mclachlan, 2009). Besides, strategic competence concerns providing solutions to linguistic problems. Furthermore, it entails the unforeseen circumstances like the tutors role when the present knowledge about language varnishes.
On the other hand, socio linguistic competence necessitates application of the social understanding to the language and Kumaravadivelu (2003) describes it as a situation in which different people pronounce words according to their social linguistic environment.
Finally, discourse competence is the mastery of the amalgamation of grammar structures and their implications so that one can converse or inscribe texts in diverse fields. Kumaravadivelu (2003) states that the early years of learning require that learners practice how to identify and react to sounds as well as how to mimic and generate sounds.
According to Brown (2006) the concept of CLT led to the development of theories of CLT that are the language theory and the learning theory. To begin with, the language theory involves language as a tool of communication and its objective is to enhance the communication competence of the learner.
Besides, Kumaravadivelu (2003) concludes that the language theory focus on characterizing the capabilities of learners so that they create sentences that are correct in terms of grammar and style. Additionally, this theory concerns itself with describing acts of speech or wordings because it is via study of the language that is in use that the learner can understand the significance of language.
Furthermore, the learning theory operates under three principles that are communication, meaningfulness and task (Jones & Mclachlan, 2009). Communication principle states that activities entailing communication facilitate learning while the meaningfulness principle states that the language that the learner values sustains the learning process.
Lastly, task principle states that the learner can learn best by engaging in a variety of activities that use language. Keith (2008) explains that the above principles attend to the conditions that are required to enhance learning of the second language rather than procedures of acquiring language.
Pros and cons of CLT
The CLT has a variety of advantages and they are as follows: First, it promotes a free interaction between the learner and the tutor. According to Richards (1990) CLT has made the students to be innovative. This is because the tutors relate harmoniously with them and give them chances to engage in any activity that facilitates the learning of language.
Secondly, CLT put a lot of emphasis on both the mental and operational abilities of the learner thus allowing the learners to think and express their opinions (Arnold, 1994).
This is imperative because it helps the learners to understand the real life and the significance of using language as a communication tool. Finally, CLT increases the interest of the learners (Jones & Mclachlan, 2009). For instance, the involvement of learners in simulation makes learning interesting because the learners are actively involved in the learning process.
In spite of the above advantages, CLT has some disadvantages. Yule (2010) squabbled that CLT requires vocabulary that the learners can use in language yet it does not teach learners the ways of handling the vocabularies.
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Additionally, CLT focus on learners yet some learners may have preconceived ideas about teaching and learning methodologies and this can create bewilderment and antipathy of the learners.
Moreover, Richards (1990) argues that CLT has not given enough attention to EFL (English as a Foreign Language). This is because when the learners are not native speakers and they do not encounter native speakers they will lack people who can motivate and correct them when they go wrong.
The learners and the teachers role in CLT
In CLT the main role of the learner is to master the communication process (Klippel, 1984). This means that CLT should help the learner to be fluent in the written and the spoken language. On the contrary, the tutor has two specific roles. Brown (2006) stated that the role of the tutor is to enhance communication among the learners and between the learners and the texts and the learning activities.
Additionally, the tutor plays the role of a sovereign participant in the learning environment. The above roles produce secondary roles of the tutor that include organizer, guide and researcher.
As an organizer, the tutor is responsible for organizing resources while as a guide the tutor leads all the procedures and the activities taking place in the classroom. Lastly, the research role of the tutor allows him or her to carry out studies that will positively contribute to learning process. Finally, other roles of the tutor are counseling, situation analysis and management.
Assessment for listening, reading and speaking
Listening assessment in CLT revolve around listening task accompanied by paying attention to a dialogue and answering some questions (Farrell & Richards, 2005). After the learner answers the questions, the tutor evaluates his or her performance. On the other hand, during the reading assessment the tutor gives the learner a specific passage to read.
The tutor will then assess the fluency and the speed of reading as well as the pronunciation of words (Nunans & Richards, 1990).
Finally, in the speaking assessment, the tutor asks the learner to discuss about a certain issue. The tutor will then assess how the learner constructs sentences and how he or she pronounces words. Additionally, the speaking test evaluates the learner’s cognition because a learner can construct sentences after understanding the language.
Principle of learning material design for CLT
According to Arnold (1994), the learning materials for CLT should be authentic. This involves the use of materials that the learner can touch and hold. Authenticity of the material is imperative because it make the learners value speaking as well as learning process.
Authentic materials include photos, symbols, articles and maps. For instance, the tutor can use maps to demonstrate the route from a specific place to another. Additionally, the tutor can use photos to illustrate the position of things.
Furthermore, the learning materials should facilitate interaction between it and the learner, the tutor and it and finally the tutor and the learner (Gass & Elinker, 2008). This means that the design of the material should be in such a way that the learner can freely interact with it through questions, assumptions and conclusion. Crooks (2008) stated that a well-designed material should allow the learner to converse with it.
For instance, text materials should contain pictures or issue based sentences that give the learner a chance to start a dialogue. According to Keith (2008) some text materials usually contain information that the tutor can use to make pair work. As a result, the tutor gives the learners information and the learners’ task is questioning each other about the information that is missing.
Moreover, the structure of the learning material should facilitate acquisition of the language and the learning skills (Farrel, 2007). As a result, the learning materials need designs that make them easier for both the tutor and the learner to use them.
For example, materials based on task should have exercises and activities that are well structured (Lindsay & Knight, 2006). This is because structured questions facilitate learners’ interaction because the learners will be in a position of asking each other questions without any difficulty.
On the other hand, the learning materials for CLT have some drawbacks. To begin with, it is expensive to develop learning materials that meet all the principles (Lindsay & Knight, 2006). For instance, a particular school may not afford to have all the necessary learning materials.
Additionally, it is difficult for the tutor to use all the materials because he or she cannot manage the class once all the materials are in use (Jones & Mclachlan, 2009). For example, the tutor may find it hard to control a class where others are reading, others are discussing while others are interviewing each another.
The purpose of CLT in language classroom
The main purpose of CLT in classroom is to assist the learners to access social and practical characteristics of the language (Yule, 2010). Therefore, the main goal of CLT is to assimilate situations that are real and amalgamate them in classroom.
Cooks (2008) states that with CLT, a lot of emphasis is on communication because it helps learners achieve language competence. Therefore, this method does not concentrate on grammar but on helping learners to value communication and to understand what others are saying. As a result, reading, listening and speaking have purposes in CLT.
To begin with, it is important to learn reading in CLT class because reading helps the learner to get information, knowledge and ideas (Arthur, 1974). Additionally, reading has a purpose of helping the learners to recognize a suitable approach of reading the comprehensions. Kumaravadivelu (2003) explains that, reading creates interaction between the learner and text therefore, producing comprehension.
This is because the text provides the learner with a passage that has hidden meaning and the learner’s role is to use understanding, talent and stratagems to determine the hidden meaning. Therefore, reading has a purpose of determining the understanding and stratagems that the learner should apply in order to be excellent in comprehension.
Furthermore, the purpose of learning listening in CLT is to help students comprehend (Douglas, 2000). This is because comprehension is the main reason why tutors teach learners the listening skills. As a result, learners should learn how to be active listeners so that they have an excellent understanding of the language.
According to Doughty (2003) active listening involves the use of all the five common senses while paying attention to the speaker. For instance, during active listening, the learner should look at the tutor, focus on both the verbal and the non-verbal communication and then take notes.
Finally, the purpose of learning speaking in CLT classroom is to help the learners know the language (Keith, 1996). This is because speaking helps the learners to be fluent in the language that the tutor teaches them and as a result, they are able to dialogue with others without any difficulties. Additionally, teaching reading helps the tutor to assess the progress of the learners regarding their achievement in the spoken communication.
Lastly, Doughty (2003) states that, the purpose of teaching reading is to help the learners develop three bodies of knowledge that include mechanics, functions and norms. Mechanics involves assisting the learners to become proficient in pronunciation, the use of vocabulary and the constructions of grammatically correct sentences.
On the other hand, functions assist the learner to distinguish a situation where clarity of language is essential and a situation where specific comprehension is of no use. Finally, norm is a body of knowledge concerned with assisting learners to understand circumstances in which they should speak and with which people.
Activities for reading, listening and speaking in CLT
In CLT there are a variety of activities for reading, listening and speaking. They include role-play, games, pair works, interviews, information gap, language exchanges, surveys and jig saw activities (Griffith, 2008). All the above-mentioned activities help learners to be proficient in reading, listening and speaking.
This is because the designs of the activities are in such a manner that the tutor can use one of the activity to help the student achieve excellence in reading, listening and speaking. As a result, the tutor does not need to use all the activities as at ones (Gass & Elinker, 2008). This means that the tutor can use one or two activities at a time because they all lead to achievement of one goal that is fluency in communication.
To begin with, information gap activities are very significant in CLT because they help the learners to communicate fluently so that they receive the information that they did not have (Yule, 2010). Therefore, information gap is a gap that exists between the learner who does not have specific information and someone else who has the required information.
According to Doughty (2003), communication can easily occur if the learners value language and use the acquired skills to get relevant information. This will help the learners to learn communication strategies that are useful for the completion of a task. Below is an example of how the tutor can involve the learners in information gap activities.
The tutor begins by dividing the learners into two groups. The tutor then gives one group a picture that has different type of fruits. Secondly, the tutor gives the other group a picture of different fruits that is almost similar to the one given in the earlier group but with a slight difference that the learners cannot easily note.
The tutor then asks the learners of the different groups to discuss the differences that exist between the two pictures.
On the other hand, jig saw activities operate under the principle of information gap (Richards, 1990). This is because the tutor divides the learners in to two groups and gives each group the necessary information required to accomplish a task. Finally, the learners come together and complete the task as a whole.
This allows the learner to use the language skills and communication strategies to come up with the answers to the given task. Below is an example of how the tutor can involve learners in jigsaw activities.
The tutor takes a story and divides it according to the number of learners who are present in class (Keith, 1996). The tutor then distributes the section of the story to all the learners. The learners then go round the classroom and read the sections that they have in a loud voice. The learners will then decide which part of the story the section that they have fits. Finally, the learners will put the whole story in the right order.
The above two activities are commonly used to help the learners increase their knowledge in language and communication (Burns & Richards, 2009).
For instance, information gap activities help learners to acquire knowledge about communication strategies because they need to know the best communication processes that one can use to acquire knowledge. Apart from those activities, other leaning activities exist and they include task completion, information gathering, opinion sharing, reasoning gap and role-play.
The activities involving task completion are games, cross word puzzles and the reading of maps. The purpose of these activities is to help the learners complete a task by using the knowledge and skills that they have about language. For instance, games help learners to increase their listening skills because they have to listen to each other before taking an appropriate action.
Griffith (2008) stated that an example of such game is the hide and seek which requires the learner to listen attentively. On the other hand, cross word puzzles and map reading enhance the reading and speaking skills.
Additionally, activities towards information gathering include conducting interviews and surveys (Douglas, 2000). These activities require learners to use the linguistic techniques that they have so that they get useful information. For instance, during a survey the learner will use listening, speaking and reading techniques.
The learner will use reading techniques to read out the survey questions to the responder while speaking skills facilitate a dialogue between the learner and the responder.
On the other hand, the learner will listen actively to the responder before filling out the survey so that the learner picks out the relevant information only (Jones & Mclachlan, 2009). Active listening involves paying attention to both the verbal and the non-verbal communication of the responder.
Furthermore, activities involving opinion sharing include comparison of values and opinions of different people (Arthur, 1974). These activities help the tutor to test if the learners have mastered the basic concepts of language and communication. For example, a learner who is able to outline the differences between the values of different people is one with excellent listening and speaking skills.
Finally, reasoning gap are those activities that help the learner get information after logic reasoning (Burns & Richards, 2009). For instance, the tutor can give the learner a comprehension about a certain topic and ask the learner to analyze it and come up with the main purpose of the comprehension.
On the other hand, role-play activities involve complete interaction among the learners (Jones & Mclachlan, 2009). In this activity, the tutor gives the learner a role and creates a scene where the learner’s function is to assume that role and give a presentation to the other learners.
Although the above-described activities are important because they promote listening, reading, speaking and communication abilities of the learners, they also have some disadvantages. To begin with, information gap activities do not fully address the reading abilities of the learners because learners do not take part in any reading like the reading of a text.
Griffith (2008) states that learning activities are time consuming and as a result, many tutors do not use them. This leads to delay in the acquisition of reading, speaking and listening skills because the students will have to struggle in order to possess those skills.
On the other hand, these activities concentrate on learners, some learners may have negative attitudes towards them, and consequently they may not concentrate so much in these activities (Keith, 2008). This negative attitude becomes a hindrance to the acquisition of listening, reading, speaking and communicating skills.
Communicative competence is concerned with the learner ability to acquire linguistic strategies (Burns & Richards, 2009).
Therefore, communicative competence is the process where the tutor assists the learner to use grammar correctly and to utter words in the right way. Additionally, communicative competence focuses on increasing the communication ability of the learner and as a result, it has five characteristics that are useful to the learners.
The first characteristic is the dynamic nature of the communicative competence that facilitates negotiations among people who have the same language background (Klippel, 1984). Secondly, communicative competence focuses on the written and the spoken language so that the learner acquires both aspect of the language.
Thirdly, communicative competence is specific in the environment in which communication is taking place and this help the learner to attach value to the surrounding environment during a communication process.
Fourthly, communicative competence moves from the known to unknown and this means that that the learner has to bring to the learning place what he or she already knows so that the tutor can use it to develop communication strategies.
Finally, communicative competence enhances interaction among learners so that learners are able to feel that their opinions are of value (Farrell & Richards, 2005). This is important because it motivate learners to take part in the learning activities.
Since communicative competence is very important, the tutor should play a role of promoting the communicative competence of the learner (Farrel, 2007). The tutor achieves this by involving learners in the CLT learning activities.
This is because CLT operates under the concept of communicative competence. Cooks (2008) stated that when the learner participates fully in the CLT activities, he or she achieves communicative competence. For instance, jig saw activities help learners increase their communicative competence by improving their linguistic knowledge and skills leading to proficiency in communication.
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