Posted by: raghdah | April 21, 2009



Over the years teachers of English used different methods or approaches, so that the students would easily understand the points illustrated by the instructor Anthony (1963). In this research, I will explain what is communicative language teaching (CLT) which is a method I use with my students whether they are second language learners or foreign learners of the language. Most of my teaching involves communication in which engaging the learner is a must. According to Bax (2003) who states that the communicative language teaching (CLT) has been a dominate approach for quite sometime and it has served the language teaching profession for many years. There have been regular efforts to take stock of CLT and to identify its characteristic features (e.g. Richards and Rodgers 1986), and in areas such as teacher training the principles of CLT are largely treated as clearly understood and accepted (see, for example, Harmer 1991′). Although there has been certain misconceptions about it, which were cleared out by several authors like by Geoff Thompson (1996) in which I will give an account of in this research moreover, a reflection of my use of the CLT.


According to H. D. Brown (1980) who suggests that there has been a new (Kuhnian) paradigm every 25 years of this century, “with each new paradigm a break from the old but taking with it positive aspects of previous paradigms” (p. 244).5 As a result, we have had several methods like Direct Method, the Grammar-Translation Method, the Audio-lingual Method, and now we have available the Interpersonal Approaches (which include the “new methods”: Community Language Learning, the Silent Way, Suggestopedia, and Total Physical Response [TPR]). According to McArthur (1983), there have been five: Grammar-Translation, Direct, Structural, Situational, and Communicative. Stern (1983) hesitantly suggests seven; Larsen-Freeman (1986) and Richards and Rodgers (1986) propose eight. Richards and Rodgers (1986) suggest that “communicative language teaching is best considered an approach rather than a method” (p. 83) since, despite some theoretical consistency, design and procedure are fairly open to interpretation. Similarly, H. D. Brown (1980, p. 240) demonstrates several common anxieties with the Method concept: “the term approach may be more accurately descriptive of these general moods.” He argues that the “Audiolingual Method, for instance, would be better termed an approach because there is such variation within the so-called method.”
According to B. Kumaravadivelu (1993) Communicative language teaching (CLT) which started in the early 1970s has become the dynamic power that shapes the planning, implementation, and evaluation of English language teaching (ELT) programmers nearly in all parts of the world. The popularity of the CLT method is due to several reasons Mitchell (1994). This method covers the four skills of the language which are listening, speaking, reading and writing (receptive and productive skills), which can be lacking in certain methods like (Grammar-Translation method, audio-lingual method). According to Wen Wu (2008) one of the fundamental principles of CLT is that learners are required to be involved in significant communication to accomplish communicative fluency in ESL settings. So its primary goal is for learners to develop communicative competence (Hymes, 1971), or simply put, communicative ability. As a result, many teachers think that CLT stresses the speaking and listening in order to improve their communicative ability by focusing on meaning, and refuses error correction for maintaining the conversation which is not true. The CLT method has contributed positively to the L2 learner’s fluency and communicative abilities. Furthermore, in some instances (e.g. Canadian French immersion programs), CLT has enabled L2 learners to develop comprehension abilities that parallel those of native speakers (Genesee, 1987).

Marland & Jeong-Bae Son (2004) stated that CLT classrooms are frequently characterized by a number of features that are usually listed in the literature on CLT (Mangubhai et al., 1999; Williams, 1995). These characteristics consist of: a stress on the language use rather than the language knowledge; better emphasis on fluency and appropriateness in the use of the target language than structural correctness; minimal focus on form with corresponding low emphasis on error correction and explicit instruction on language rules or grammar; – 2 – classroom tasks as well as exercises which rely on impulsiveness and student trial-and-error and that encourage negotiation of meaning between students and students and teachers; use of authentic and real materials; an environment that is lively , not extremely formal, supports risk-taking and endorses student autonomy; the teachers role is more as a facilitators and participants rather than the traditional didactic role; and students being actively involved in interpretation, expression and negotiation of meaning. Briefly, the approach “puts the focus on the learner” (Savignon, 2002, p. 4).


To be able to judge a method, we as teachers have got to learn about these methods and try them in our classroom in order to see which method is most suitable for our students needs. The role of the teacher is very important since it carries a lot of weight, according to Renate Schulz (1991), if teachers succeed in granting sufficient elevated interest input and a lot of practice activities which centre on content and human communication, later on motivation take its part. (Hollyforde & Whiddett, 2005, p. 2) both believe that it’s the teachers’ job to motivate their learners. What Renate Schulz concludes in his paper is that we have to inspect and modify our syllabus in order to renew and develop the language skills of our students which can be done through critically examining the implicit and explicit hypothesise which can simply guide our teaching in radiance of current theoretical and research improvement . According to Marko Maglić (2008), teachers have to break the ice what I mean by that is to avoid negative feelings like frustration, fear and anxiety that can dominate the learning environment and make it fail easily. High-anxiety learning environments are known to produce emotive conditions, such as feeling anxious or overwhelmed, that can be counterproductive to the learning process. (Wallace & Truelove, 2006, p. 22)

If we take a look at CLT as an approach, which went through certain misconceptions that were cleared out by
Thompson (1996), he mentioned the main four misconceptions in the CLT approach. The first misconception revolves around teaching grammar which is impossible since the knowledge that the speaker needs to use in the language is simply too complex (Prabhu 1987) moreover, the knowledge passed to the learner can only be acquired unconsciously through revelation does it mean “exposure”? to the Language rather than being passed on in the form of static rules (Krashen 1988). The CLT approach does not undermine the importance of teaching grammar, on the contrary it facilitates English for Foreign Learner (EFL) students to learn about grammar rather than it being presented by the teacher her/him self. Learners themselves will be familiar with verb tenses once they are guided by the instructor while as spoon feeding means that their job is becoming easier not clear what you mean here. Rather than working matters out themselves, they will lose the sense of creativity and motivation in the learning process.

According to Littlewood (1992) the focus is on the learner rather than the grammatical accuracy since the learner will acquire this skill through exposure to a second language without explicit instructions. Also Krashen clarified it through ”Monitor theory” which was based on that Second Language (L2) was mainly unconsciously acquired through revelation to comprehension input rather than being learnt through plain activities which means that learners will be exposed to higher levels of language and demonstrations of their abilities which Geoff Thompson elucidates through a ”retrospective ” approach. This prepares the learner in some way to internalize the new information about the language.
The Second misconception revolves around the idea the CLT approach teaches only speaking which is actually true, since it begins as practicing oral skills only but later on it carries more weight since learners are encouraged most of the time to communicate and speak the language, especially if they are in a foreign country. Part of the experienced educators think that the Teacher Talking Time (TTT) will be reduced and Student Talking Time (STT) is expanded which confirms their misconception. It is important to note that communication in any language is not about speaking only, but also about students listening or reading silently. Most textbooks make sure that both the teacher and the students would encounter a lot of writing activities more so that they are actually start working with the language skills. Learners are most likely to speak more in a successful CLT class than in classes using ‘traditional’ approaches; but a glance at recent mainstream textbooks will immediately show that they are also likely to be reading and writing a more varied range of texts than those in more traditional classes. CLT revolves around encouraging learners to take part in – and reflect on – communication in as many diverse contexts as possible (and as many as necessary, not only for their future language-using needs, moreover, for their present language-learning needs). perchance, rather than student talking time, we should be thinking about the broader concept of student communicating time (or even just student time, to include necessary periods of silent reflection undistracted by talk from teacher or partner) Geoff Thompson (1996)
Through my five years of experience (2004-2009), most of the students found that through interacting with the language and listening to the extensive material which mostly they didn’t grasp at the beginning of the course but after a couple of months, students began to understand simple ideas which were very complicated to them at the launch of the their extensive course. It is not only a single skill that students develop but they are actually using a part of their brain which was neglected through the process of learning excess to the use of Grammar-Translation method in all the aspects and skills of the English language. Students tend to work on the language the instructor is using and later on they imitate what they hear. It is for this reason we as educators’ advice students to specify an hour a day in which they pick their favorite English program and listen to it carefully without subtitles of their native language.

The third misconception revolves around the CLT which means pair work that leads to a role play Role play is one of the interesting aspects to teaching the language, however according to Geoff Thompson (1996) ; some instructors control the free practice of students (production) through preventing students from choosing the character they will play in a dialogue. Some textbooks abandoned the free practice which kills the learner’s creativity and imagination. Making learners interact with each other as pair work would be a push for them to help each other and cooperate effectively rather then working individually with no guidance from their peers or partners whether they are engaged together on grammatical exercise, solving a problem or even answering comprehension questions, etc. The advice of Geoff Thompson was to not overuse these techniques and think of different varieties and ranges of teaching. Learners are the center of attention which means that the teacher has to give the students the chance to practice the language using different techniques similar to group or pair work.

The teacher can encourage the learner in an optimistic approach according to Dickinson (1987) & Holec (1985) who both made a distinction between psychological and practical preparation. The first can be prorated as a change in perception about how language can be acquired or obtained only through the careful control of a professional teacher. The second occupies a range of procedures with which learners can boost their learning. Combined together, these two insights can be called *Learner Training*. This technique raises the learner’s language awareness which promotes learners to become more drawn in, active and in charge of their own learning and alleviate them to strengthen their tactics for language learning and knowledge.

The fourth misconception refers to the CLT approach that means expecting too much from the teacher In my opinion this argument is actually true Medgyes (1986), since it requires the teachers to be unique in all the skills of English and to have a high level of proficiency while communicating with students and interacting with them in a natural way, as if it is their mother-tongue. This approach has been developed and is aimed for native speakers according to Geoff Thompson. Teachers embracing this approach have to re-examine their principles and beliefs. It is an approach that needs a lot of skills and it shuns the repetition of the material they present. The second reason is that some teachers are not ready to change their approach of teaching although a lot of non-native speakers have a good level of proficiency and can cope effectively with the material presented nowadays. Teachers would prefer old-traditional classes in which students are not part of the learning party. We as teachers need to step aside.
In some ways, there is no answer to these points. It is definitely difficult to ignore the charge that CLT is an approach developed by and for native speaker teachers. On the other hand, the label of misconception is perhaps valid for two reasons. Firstly, the points are presented as flaws of CLT, as reasons for rejecting it, but they can equally well be presented as reasons for embracing it Thompson (1996). Teachers have the chance to re-examine their beliefs and practices; they have a spur to develop their skills; they are encouraged to enjoy themselves in their work and avoid dull repetition of the same conventional set of materials, activities, and answers. This vision may appear unjustifiably optimistic to some, but there appears to be no reason to assume that the majority of teachers do not welcome such opportunities – if they are recognized as such. Secondly, the amount of the demands can easily be exaggerated – indeed, this misconception may perhaps sometimes be promoted by teachers who may have some reasons for not wanting to modify their current practices. Even Medgyes (1986), in order to make his point more forcefully, ends up by describing as the CLT norm an unrealistically superhuman teacher that few CLT teachers would recognize. It can be difficult to use a communicative approach if you are given uncommunicative materials; but that is not the case. Many textbooks nowadays supply practical, straightforward CLT guidelines and activities which lay little weight on the teacher beyond a willingness to try them out with enough conviction. The majority of non-native teachers of English with a high enough level of proficiency can cope easily with the required shift towards more fluent and less pre-planned use of the language.

According to Geoff Thompson the (CLT) is ultimately a good approach although it took quite a long time for learners and teachers to work out the connotation for all the features of the teaching/learning process. Also we need to specifically reject some changes which are too important to lose and had to do with learning the part and the parcel of matters rather then limiting the horizon of the learners. A piece of advice to all educators around the world is to expand their perspective and think of the learning process as a rewarding experience for the teachers and learners themselves. Also we have to view learners as individuals. According to Geoff Thompson these misconceptions were very essential to be cleared out otherwise, it would be used to break them and CLT as a whole. Also, according to Melinda Tan (2005). The CLT has complicated ideas of what language is and what students require to learn. The method used in the classroom has freed it (classroom) from the inflexible styles used in the audio-lingual method. The CLT method uses a lot of techniques to engage the learner in the learning process. Teachers using the CLT approach could complement it with extensive exercises of the language; pronunciation, grammar or even vocabulary.
Finally, I agree with Richards (2005) who suggests that CLT will continue to be the major general language teaching methodology for certain years to come, since it is principles are actually carried out by English language teaching profession and by ET/TESOL specialists and applied linguistics. In addition, there are certain factors that are more concerned about the learner such as motivation, individualization and learning strategies which play a major part in teaching any language and the way it is being taught.


Anthony, (1963) ELT Journal 1963 XVII( 2):63-67; doi:10.1093/elt/XVII.2.63. Oxford University Press
Bax (2003) The end of CLT: a context approach to language teaching. ELT Journal, 2003 – Oxford University Press
Brown, H. D. (1980). Principles of language learning and teaching. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Dickinson, L. (1987) Self-instruction in Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Gardner, R. C. Language Learning Motivation (2001): The student, the Teacher, and the Researcher Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso Revista Signos 2001, 33(47), 87-99
Gardner R., WE Lambert – Rowley, Mass, (1972) –
Genesee, F. (1987). Learning through two languages. Rowley, Mass: Newbury House.
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Harmer, J. (2001) The Practice Of English Language Teaching3rd edition ,Longman.
Holec,H. (1985) * On autonomy: some elementary concepts * in P. Riley (ed.) pp. 173 -90
Hollyforde,S.& Whiddett, S.(2005). The Motivation Handbook: Developing Practice. Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House.
Hymes, D. (1971). On Communicative Competence. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Krashen, S (1988). The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications. London: Longman
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Prabhu, N. S. (1987). Second Language Pedagogy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Richards, Jack C. (2005), “Communicative Language Teaching Today.”
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Savignon, S. J. (2002). Communicative language teaching: Linguistic theory and classroom practice. In S. J. Savignon (Ed.). Interpreting communicative language teaching (pp. 1-27). New Haven & London: Yale University Press
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Tan, M. (2005) CLT-Beliefs and Practice Journal Of Language & Learning Vol. 3 No. 1 2005 ISSN 1740-4983
Thompson, Geoff (1996) ELT Journal Volume 50/1 January 1996 page numbers 9-15
Wallace, B. A., & Truelove, J. E. (2006). Monitoring Student Cognitive-Affective Processing Through Reflection to Promote Learning in High-Anxiety Contexts. JCAL, 3(1), 22–27
Williams, J. (1995). Focus on form on communicative language teaching: Research findings and the classroom teacher. TESOL Journal, 4(4), 12-16.
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  1. […] Original post by raghdah […]

  2. Love this blog I’ll be back when I have more time.

  3. Many thanks.

    Best Regards,

  4. Hi, good post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I’ll certainly be coming back to your posts. Keep up great writing

  5. no problems whatsoever!!

    Best Regards,

  6. I’m an English teacher and I’m interested in methodology. A good post

    • Thanks …..

  7. Thanks for posting this. I am an EFL teacher in Korea and found this really helpful. It looks like there is a lot of information on your blog. I’ll be back soon to check out some more posts.




  8. if you wrote some examples it can be perfect because without example i am still confusing

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