Boumalne Dades - The historical reasons and the purpose beyond the appearance of CLT and its principles
Boumalne Dades – The historical reasons and the purpose beyond the appearance of CLT and its principles
Educational methods both reflect and shape their environments. Before the 1970’s, for example, in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classrooms, teachers focused on grammar and translation. The principles of this approach reflected the needs of society, because at that time people learned languages generally for translation rather than for communication. Thus, when people started to value communication, the Communicative Language Teaching approach was created. In this new era of technological development, schools have had to adapt themselves to the needs of our new technology-based society. Therefore, EFL classes have been trying to simulate the real world, and have started incorporating technology-based instruction in their curricula.
I would now like to explain some of the historical realities that precipitated these pedagogic changes: during the seventies, the European common market needed more workers who could communicate effectively using other languages; therefore, language schools began to respond to these economic imperatives. Some linguists started rethinking the methods that were used in language pedagogy, and tried to find alternative approached to the teaching of foreign languages. As a result of this re-evaluation, linguists established the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) Approach as an alternative method, in which person-to-person communication is both a principle and a goal.
According to advocates of the CLT approach, grammar is not sufficient for proper communication. What Chomsky called linguistic competence is no longer seen as the basic principle and goal for learning a language. Instead, communicative competence becomes, in 1972, the goal of EFL learning. Dell Hymns, one of the revolutionary linguistic thinkers of the decade, argued that in order to be fluent and accurate in a certain language, students should master communicative and language functions. What we teach should reflect-real life language situations. Therefore, the memorization and drilling that were the focus of the old traditional methods are no longer the focus of the language teacher.
The main principles of CLT
The Communicative Language Teaching Approach has withstood the test of time. It is one of the most effective approaches in the teaching and learning of languages. According to CLT principles, learning takes place only when the activities and tasks undertaken are comprehensible, contextualized, meaningful, and not mechanical. A student learns successfully when the input he or she receives from the teacher is related to his or her real life. To encourage this, the teacher should use materials that are authentic to daily life. Teachers of foreign languages need to use more photographs, videos, announcements, and real-life conversations such as extracts from TV interviews, telephone dialogues, magazine articles, etc.
Perhaps one of the most revolutionary concepts of the CLT approach is that the learner is given more importance than the teacher. (This is particularly controversial in the Middle East, where traditional hierarchical teaching models were completely turned on their head by this method!) The student is no longer a mere consumer of knowledge, and the teacher is no longer the omniscient bestower of wisdom. Rather, both parties are active participants who contribute to the learning process and who are responsible for their own learning. They are not passive learners who keep repeating what the teacher says in a mechanical way. Here, we can add that one of the main principles of CLT is to give more opportunities for the students to use the target language as much as possible.
For example, CLT advocates underlined that students should be encouraged to work in pairs and in groups. This group work is highly effective, as it leads to an interaction and negotiation of meaning between student and student and student and teacher. Therefore, instead of being merely the passive receivers of the teacher’s input, students could produce knowledge and contribute it to the classroom. Fluency, and not accuracy, becomes a more crucial goal of learning. The mistakes made by the students are very much tolerated, at least in the beginning.
Edited by Ilona Alexandra
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