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  1. 1. 1 The Communicative ApproachTHE COMMUNICATIVE APPROACHIntroductionCommunicative Language Teaching (CLT) is currently beingimplemented into curricula across Asia; however, its roots date back tothe 1960’s, when language teaching in both Europe and North Americabegan undergoing a shift in focus. This change was prompted by agrowing dissatisfaction with then popular approaches (namely theGrammar-Translation and Audio-Lingual Approaches) in addition tonewly evolving paradigms in the field of linguistics. British functionallinguists (e.g., Firth, Halliday) believed that language should be viewedas “meaning potential,” in which structural contexts and understandingof how language is used in these contexts should be of primary concern.The need for such a view was highlighted by the large number ofimmigrants flooding into Europe at the time. They required languagefor work and other immediate social functions such as finding housing,enrolling children in school, and using the public transportation system(Savignon, 2001). During the same period, American sociolinguists(e.g., Hymes, Labov, Gumperz) asserted the need to view language as a“social behavior.” This model was very much in line with the onedeveloping in Europe, with particular emphasis on pragmatic aspects,including social roles and register. As a result of these combinedmovements, the interactive aspects of language received greaterattention, and language teachers began to recognize the value ofactivities that focused on this notion of what Savignon (2001) labeled“communicative competence1.”Communicative CompetenceAt the heart of CLT lies the idea of communicative competence.Savignon first employed this term to categorize those activities thatrequired less discrete-point knowledge, such as drills and recitation, andincorporated more “meaningful interaction” with other speakers(2001). Similarly, Canale and Swain defined communicative
  2. 2. 2 The Communicative Approachcompetence as “the underlying systems of knowledge and skill requiredfor communication” (1980), including such aspects as vocabulary andknowledge of sociolinguistic conventions. They contrasted it with whatthey labeled “actual communication,” sometimes referred to asperformance2. Actual communication is the manifestation of thisunderlying competence “under limiting psychological andenvironmental conditions such as memory and perceptual constraints,fatigue, nervousness, distractions, and interfering background noises(1980).” Communicative competence is an integral part of actualcommunication, however, it is demonstrated indirectly and oftenimperfectly due to the constraints listed above. In other words, we mayestimate a student’s ability based on how well they speak, read, write, orunderstand in our class, although their performance may vary on anygiven day due to certain internal or external factors such as sickness,poor lighting, bad mood, etc. For this reason, it is necessary to makecautious judgments concerning a student’s communicative proficiency.Although there are a variety of frameworks for communicativecompetence (e.g., Lado, 1961,1964; Carroll, 1972; Bachman andPalmer, 1990; Villmer and Sang 1983), Canale’s (1983) is commonlyaccepted (Savignon, 2001), and consists of four main components:grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, discoursecompetence, and strategic competence. It is important to note that allfour components are interrelated; if one area of competence is improved,the others will also react, and there will be an overall increase incommunicative competence (Savignon, 2001). As a result, analyzingthem as unitary aspects would provide an inaccurate and incompletepicture of competence.The first component of communicative competence, grammaticalcompetence, includes features that were traditionally associated withlanguage learning, such as grammar rules, vocabulary, word formation,pronunciation, sentence formation, etc. This aspect does not refer to thememorization of rules, but instead involves the ability to use the rules inreal communication (Savignon, 2001). In the communicative languageframework, this component makes up only a fraction of the knowledge语言能力构成要素- 语法能力- 社会语言学能力- 话语能力- 策略性能力performance(语言应用)
  3. 3. 3 The Communicative Approachthat students require.The second component, sociolinguistic or sociocultural competence,takes into account the contextual relationship of language. Speakersshould be able to tailor their language appropriately according to the ageand social status of the interlocutor and the purpose of interactionfollowing the norms and conventions of that language (Canale, 1980;Savignon, 2001). For example, the language, tone of voice, turn-takingconventions, and nonverbal language that we use with a close friend of asimilar age would be markedly different from that we would use with aboss who is significantly older. According to Savignon, this componentheightens the necessity of cultural awareness rather than culturalknowledge. That is, learning about the target culture will not guaranteeeffective communication; instead, one should be open to creatingdialogue with others, which involves constant understanding andadaptation. Until fairly recently this aspect has been ignored, and it isseldom explicitly implemented into language curricula.Discourse competence is the third component and concerns“mastery of how to combine grammatical forms and meanings toachieve a unified spoken or written text in different genres” (Canale,1980). These genres refer to the type of language (written or spoken)and might include: debate, narration, casual conversation, e-mail,poetry, short story, etc. For the language to be unified it must becoherent in meaning and cohesive in form. Coherence3here deals withthe relation of all sentences or utterances in the text to the global topic,and is necessary for interpreting the text (Savignon , 2001); in otherwords, does the text make sense as a whole? On the other hand,cohesion4, which contributes to coherence, refers to “local connections”,which are the structural linking of utterances using devices such assynonyms, pronouns, ellipses, and conjunctions.The final component, strategic competence, appears to be one of themost important in real communication. This area encompasses thedynamic nature of communication, which Savignon (1983) introduced,and several others have alluded to since. Strategic competence involvesinterlocutor(对话者)coherence(连贯)cohesion(连结)
  4. 4. 4 The Communicative Approachthe coping strategies needed to maneuver through breakdowns incommunication and convey points despite such factors asmisunderstandings, environmental distractions, and insufficientlanguage proficiency. Those who are competent in this area will be ableto exploit their language knowledge to the fullest and will ultimately bethe most able to demonstrate their knowledge to those who are assessingthem. One might note that as the other areas of communicativecompetence improve, there will be decreased reliance on this componentfor the simple reason that the need will diminish (Savignon, 2001).Although such a modular framework may seem daunting, andassessing some of these components in the speech of young learners maybe more challenging due to the yet unsophisticated nature of theirlanguage, the implication for teaching seems obvious: students shouldbe presented with naturalistic situations for learning (as discussed ingreater detail in the unit on the Natural Approach). Tasks should mimicreal-life encounters as much as possible. The more genuinecommunicative interaction the learners encounter, the more they will beable to develop and apply the above competencies.Focus on Meaning and FunctionThis new view of language competence resulted in criticisms ofapproaches such as Grammar Translation, which taught language as aset of rules and separate pieces to be assembled at a later time. Many feltthat meaning was more important than form. That is, teachers neededto move away from teaching grammar first. Instead they should beginby introducing meaningful, contextualized language samples beforediscussing the rules that underlay them. This caused a transition fromdeductive5to inductive6presentation of language targets.In deductive teaching, the instructor begins by presenting studentswith a daily grammar point and/or vocabulary, for example the presentprogressive. The teacher explains the rule, and perhaps makescomparisons to the students’ first language (L1). While explaining therule, the teacher provides no context, and fails to highlight thecommunicative function of the form. The teacher might say that the强调语言意义和功能- 意义比形式更重要- 有意义、符合语境的语言教学在先- 语法讲解在后- 演绎教学法向归纳教学法过渡演绎教学法- 机械性- 教师承担所有学习的职责归纳教学法- 鼓励学习者自己发现规律和意义- 较类似于第一语言的学习
  5. 5. 5 The Communicative Approachpresent progressive tense is used to describe “something that we donow,” despite the fact that it also has a variety of additional functions(e.g., We are going to the store tomorrow.) The teacher would then drillthe students; perhaps giving them pronouns and verb stems and havingthem to make present progressive sentences. (For example, if the teachersays, “he study”, the students would reply, “He is studying.”) This mayor may not be followed by a brief application process, and the next day anew grammar point would be introduced. Deductive language learningbecomes mechanical, and the teacher assumes all responsibility forstudent learning.In inductive teaching, the goal is to encourage learners to discoverrules and meanings themselves, in much the same way we learn our firstlanguage. To begin with, the teacher introduces the target languagewithin a context such as a dialogue or short story. The language sampleitself should be clear, interesting, and relevant for the students, and thetarget language should be included naturally; teachers should notchoose a sample that is designed artificially around the language point,as is done in many textbooks. Since the goal of the lesson is to convertinput (what is heard or read) into intake (what is retained in learners’competence) it is essential to direct learners’ attention to specific featuresof the input (Smith, 1993, Schmidt, 1990). Schmidt’s “noticinghypothesis” reinforces this idea that conscious noticing of the newlanguage is necessary for retention (1990, 1995). For this reason, ininductive teaching, it is the teacher’s role to guide students to noticecertain aspects. This is best done by introducing language samples thatare motivating and authentic, yet include naturally occurring repetitionof the target language (Brown, 2001). Saliency of the language alsoplays a big role in whether or not input becomes intake, particularly sofor young learners. For example, contracted forms are often not noticedby children (Gabrielatos, 1994).Many, however, believe that input alone is not enough. The nextimportant phase is using the new language. After the teacher introducesthe language, there must be some meaningful application of it, whichcan take the form of a role-play, a problem-solving activity, a game,input(语言输入)intake(语言吸收)目的语的运用- 教师采用多种形式的语言运用活动,与实际生活紧密联系- 学习者使用目的语进行交际
  6. 6. 6 The Communicative Approachstorytelling or writing, an information gap5activity, etc. (Many of thesewill be explained in detail later or are explained in other units.) Thesetasks should relate to the real life of the learner and should, by design,require the learner to communicate using the new language. Therefore,the lesson moves from comprehension to production (Brown, 2001),continuing its focus on meaning over form and providing an idealenvironment for conscious noticing of the new language. Additionally,the learner becomes intrinsically motivated, since completion of the taskis dependent on sufficient usage of the new language.Because younger learners are still in the process of developing theircognitive skills and lack sophisticated knowledge of their own firstlanguage, such an inductive presentation of language is most suitable forthem. Teaching rules and drilling do not make sense because youngerlearners are more capable of acquiring a second language in wayssimilar to acquiring their first language, and one would find suchpractices for teaching the first language uncalled for. As a result,inductive immersion programs and elementary school foreign languageprograms place minimal emphasis on grammar instruction.Such a philosophy of meaning over form also provides some insightson how to approach error correction in a communicative-centeredclassroom. Direct error correction, particularly for younger learners, isdiscouraged for several reasons. First, it obviously detracts from thepurpose of communication as a tool to convey meaning. A child mightnot understand why the adult is correcting them and, even aftercorrection, might not fully be aware of what is wrong. Second, evenwhen children may be aware of a rule, they may not be able to apply itconsistently. The following example from Slobin (1978) illustrates thispoint clearly:Heida: She readed the book, you know, that green book.Dan: Hmm?Heida: That’s the book she read. She read the whole book.Dan: That’s the book she readed, huh?Heida: Yea, read! (annoyed)归纳教学和小学外语教学项目极少采用语法教学法
  7. 7. 7 The Communicative ApproachDan: Barbara readed you Babar (book name)?Heida: She readed all the rest.Dan: That’s right. I readed the beginning to you.Heida: Readed? (annoyed and surprised) Read! Will you stop thatPapa?The child obviously has passive knowledge of the rule, and in herown mind is unaware that she is not producing it in some of the requiredinstances. As a result, she becomes frustrated with her father’scorrection. Finally, whether or not a learner is able to process thequestion has much to do with their natural stage of development (asdiscussed in detail in the units on Early Childhood Development Theoryand The Natural Approach). Pienemann suggested that there is ahierarchical sequence of acquisition for questions (1985), and othershave found similar stages of “teachability” applied to other aspects oflanguage. Such beliefs suggest that, in many instances, direct correctionof students may prove fruitless, unless aimed specifically at theirindividual levels of development, which vary.If correction is used in the young learner classroom, it should notinterrupt the flow of student talk (Curtain and Dahlberg, 2004). For thisreason, recasting (restating with correct grammar) all or part of alearner’s statement is recommended over overt correction. Since thistype of correction is often employed by parents to children (Doughty,2000), it again adheres to the idea of authentic communication, andretains an emphasis on meaning. An example of recasting follows:S: I eated rice for lunch.T: Oh, you ate rice for lunch? What else did you have?Here the teacher recognizes and provides feedback to the student’serror, but wants to encourage the student to continue speaking. Thestudent may or may not notice the error, but the opportunity to notice isprovided. In order to make the correction more salient, the teachermight stress the form that the student produced incorrectly or omitted.For example:S: I eated rice for lunch.
  8. 8. 8 The Communicative ApproachT: Oh, really? You ate rice for lunch?If the teacher does choose to occasionally focus on accuracy of aparticular form, they should begin by designing activities developedaround a recurring error. In these instances, it is recommended that theteacher make the goal of the lesson or activity clear, so that studentsunderstand what they are learning. Also, the activities, despite theirintention to focus on grammar, should be presented in an authentic,communicative context, which will be discussed in the following section.AuthenticityIn order for the classroom to be truly communicative, lessons must bebased on authentic language and materials, even for young learners.The texts, whether they be stories, songs, movie clips, or letters, shouldbe genuine in the sense that they do not focus on controlled vocabularyor grammar points; they should not be modified solely for the purpose ofteaching isolated pieces of language. Such manipulated texts oftenpresent artificial samples of language that are not used in real-lifesituations. By using authentic texts to teach reading and listening skills,learners are provided with real-life opportunities to use the targetlanguage. Teachers should choose authentic materials that are aimed atnative speakers of a similar age to their students. Storybooks, cartoons,comics, and children’s menus are good examples of authentic materialsfor young learners.The use of authentic materials alone, however, does not guarantee aCommunicative Approach; a teacher can just as easily turn a lesson thatuses authentic materials into one typical of grammar translation, inwhich students dictate, memorize, and translate. We must also becertain to introduce language that has an authentic function. This meansthat it should be “real” language, not the language found so often intextbook drills. Typical language lessons of the past included questionsthat seem ridiculous had they been uttered in the L1. For example,many language learners are familiar with the following scenario:T: Are you a girl or a boy?学习材料的真实性- 确保交际的真实性- 提供学习者真实使用目标语的机会
  9. 9. 9 The Communicative ApproachS1: I’m boy.T: Yes. You are a boy. He’s a boy. (Directed to the class.)T: What is this? (Holding a pen)S2: A pen.T: Yes. It’s a pen.These questions, aside from being painfully boring, have nofunctional value and are non-communicative since we already know theanswers. This sequence illustrates “T-S-T syndrome.” That is, theteacher asks a question; the student answers; the teacher givesfeedback, and then the teacher asks another student a question (Irujo,1998). Such discourse would never be found in natural speech, andlimits students to the position of constantly responding to questions. Inplace of this, students should be encouraged to take the role of bothquestioner and answerer and should be allowed opportunities to directtheir own topics. This should be built into activities that the children doand should be part of the daily classroom routine. Irujo (1998) writes:What does a classroom based on authentic language looklike? Talk in such a classroom has to do with the work that goeson in that room. It is negotiation of meaning among the teacherand children revolving around what is going to be learned, whatactivities will be done, what things mean, how we know, what weknow, and sharing what we have learned and how we learned it.It is rooted in both the content that the children are learning andthe procedures used to learn it. It is democratic, with childrenhaving both time to contribute and freedom to say what theythink (p. 65).The teacher should begin by creating a comfortable classroomatmosphere where students are encouraged to express their ideas. Thewriter recalls an interesting class ritual that she witnessed whileobserving an elementary English as a second language class in Hawai’ithat illustrates this. The teacher began each class by having studentsgather in a small semi-circle. (Out of habit, most of the students ran totheir places after the bell rang.) She then announced that it was “news
  10. 10. 10 The Communicative Approachtime” and began with a small chant that the class knew and sangtogether while clapping. It went something like:What’s the news today?What’s the news?Is it happy? Is it sad?Is it good? Is it bad?What’s the news today?What’s the news?Each student was then given time to share his or her news, and theother students were encouraged to ask questions. This was a naturalexchange of information that was nicely incorporated into the daily classroutine.Activities that are designed to practice language should also include asimilar communicative element. As teachers, we should resist askingartificial questions that would never be encountered outside theclassroom, and we should not place students in the position ofone-sentence respondents. We should encourage children to practicelanguage as communicatively as possible by using such activities asrole-plays and dramatizations (both of which are discussed in detail inthe Teaching Through Drama unit), in which functions such ascommands, apologies, invitations, and introductions become concrete tostudents.In order for communicative activities to be functionally authentic,there must be an information gap. By definition, communication is theexchange of ideas, opinions, or information. Before we listen to or readsomething, we cannot guess everything that the speaker or writer isgoing to say; there exists a “gap” that provides us with a reason forlistening or reading. The teacher should consider ways of making thisgap present when children are practicing language. Role-plays, whendone correctly, should include an information gap. For example, theteacher might give students information cards (using simple words orpictures) with different names and countries (see Figure 1).交际活动的功能真实性- 包含“信息沟”包含“信息沟“的活动- 角色扮演- 头脑中拼图- 日常生活信息问答
  11. 11. 11 The Communicative ApproachName: PierreCountry: FranceName: AshleyCountry: CanadaName: So YoungCountry: KoreaThe teacher should check to make certain that students understandthe task and the information on their cards, but must do so individuallywith students in order to insure preservation of the information gap.Then, the teacher can ask students to do a short role-play to introducethemselves, pretending that they are the characters on their cards. Otherinformation, such as hobbies, hometown, etc., can be added for higherproficiency levels. Just as in natural communication, one student cannotpredict how another will answer.Jigsaw activities are another type of information gap activity that canprove stimulating for younger learners. Here each member of a group orpair is given different information that is necessary to complete a task.Following is an example of a jigsaw activity that could be performedafter a lesson about animals that live on the African continent (see Figure2). Each group has information about one of the animals that the classhas studied, and within each group each member has uniqueinformation that all members must piece together to help them guess theanimal’s identity (adapted from Curtain and Dahlberg, 2004).Group Student A Student B Student C Student D1 It looks like ahorse.It has stripes. It is black andwhite.It ends in A.2 It has blackspots.It lives in theforest.It lives in Asia& Africa.It looks like acat.3 It is tall. It has a longneck.It eats fromtrees.It is orange andbrown.To adapt this for preliterate learners, pictures may be substituted forsentences. Again, since each student has their own card and is notFigure 1: Sample Role Play Cards for Self-IntroductionsFigure 2: Animal and Habitat Jigsaw Activity
  12. 12. 12 The Communicative ApproachFigure 3: Food Topic Biographical Databaseallowed to show their information to the other members, there exists agap; one member has information that the other members do not, andthey must speak in order to retrieve the information and guess theiranimal as a team.Biographical databases are yet another type of information gap.These are interview activities that require students to answer and askquestions about personal likes or dislikes, interests, etc. They arenormally set up in table form with names or pictures of students acrossthe top. The teacher might also have students choose an icon or favoriteanimal to represent themselves (see Figure 3). In the far left verticalcolumn there are questions, stems, or even pictures. For example, adatabase with the title “What Did You Do Last Weekend?” might includethings ranging from the ordinary to the unusual, such as play withfriends, watch TV, ride a bike, go to the zoo, take a plane, etc. Thestudents would ask the members who are listed on their questionnaire ifthey did any of the activities listed. If they are preliterate, students coulddraw a smiley face in the box of an activity that their group member did,and an X or sad face in the box of something that was not done.Question1. What isyour favoritefood?2. When didyou eat itlast?3. What isyour favoritesnack?
  13. 13. 13 The Communicative ApproachBiographical database topics could vary from sports to hobbies to futuredreams to wants to items in the students’ room at home. The teacher canalso make this more open-ended for higher proficiency students bylisting questions such as What did you do this weekend? Who did youmeet this weekend? and What did you eat for breakfast this weekend? inthe left column, and having students fill in responses in pairs. (A numberof other information gap activities are provided in the Applicationssection below.)In addition to authentic language function, the level of the languageand the context in which it is presented should be authentic for the age ofthe learner. Teachers should consider topic, grammar, and registerappropriateness when introducing and having students practicelanguage. The writer recalls an incidence in which she was observing anEnglish as a foreign language class for elementary students. The themeof the lesson was “going to the barber shop.” The language practicedincluded such phrases as, How much for a trim? and I would like ashave, please. This is inappropriate for several reasons. First, thesituation itself is unusual; it is rare that children would go to a hair shopalone and ask a barber for a haircut. Second, the vocabulary is notgenuine for the age level. Elementary school students would use theword cut over the more nuanced trim. Also, children at this age do nothave facial hair; therefore, the word shave here is not suitable. Finally,the grammatical forms used are not those that a native English speakerof the same age would use. How much is... would probably be used by anative speaking child instead of How much for... and I would like... is,for the most part, too formal a register for children. Other situations thatwould be inauthentic for children might include going to the bank,renting a car, buying a plane ticket, etc.The final element that falls under this umbrella of authenticity isauthentic purpose. Irujo states, “So much of what we ask children to doin school has no purpose other than to learn and practice a skill (1998).”Although practice plays a role in the language classroom, the teachershould make an effort to translate what students do into some sort ofmeaningful product. In an L1 context, if we write a letter, then we expect语言水平和语境的真实性- 应针对学习者的年龄- 在学生练习时,教师应考虑话题、语法及其他合理性目的的真实性- 将学生的课堂练习转化为具有实际意义的成果
  14. 14. 14 The Communicative Approachsomeone to read it, and if we invite somebody to a party, we expect themto come. In the classroom, however, it is a teacher who reads the letterand comments on it from a language point of view, and students end upinviting the other students to an imaginary party. It would be ideal if wecould make language functions more tangible for the learner. Withoutsuch an attempt, it would be easy for learners to lose motivation. Irujoalso comments, “If nobody is going to see a child’s story except theteacher and perhaps a few other children who bother to look at thebulletin board where it is posted, there is little incentive to write a goodstory.... If the task has no other purpose than to do what the teacher says,it doesn’t make any difference if they do it wrong in the first place.”Taylor adds, “Students are not as likely to involve themselves as fully inclassroom activities, which are contrived and uncompelling, as they arewhen they have a real stake in their endeavors (1983).”There are ways that teachers can enable students to see the results oftheir practice. For example, the teacher might make and distribute abooklet of stories, poems, and artwork that students producedthroughout the year. (This can be adapted for lower level learners bymaking a collection of stories or songs that the teacher introduced inclass with illustrations by students.) The teacher could also begin theyear by introducing an empty box as a “time capsule” or “gift box.”Students would decide what kind of things they would like to placeinside it during the year. For each item they should explain the reason fortheir choice, whether it be a story, art, a prop, or a tape. Each studentcan also be asked to add something that represents himself or herself asan individual. For example, the teacher could videotapeself-introductions or goodbyes, then use these materials with studentsthe following year or could plan ahead with a school in another countryor neighboring area, and exchange gift boxes at the end of the year.Curtain and Dahlberg (2004) introduce a similar initiative called the“Flat Stanley” project, which is based on the popular book by JeffBrown. Flat Stanley tells the story of a boy who is crushed by a bulletinboard, but who then has the magic ability of traveling via mail. Thisdynamic plot has provided teachers worldwide with the idea of
  15. 15. 15 The Communicative Approachexchanging “Flat Stanleys” with partner classes. For example, a class inBoston, Massachusetts might, after initial teacher contact, send theirown “Flat Stanley” to a class in Seoul, Korea (via regular mail orInternet), and vice versa. The Boston “Flat Stanley” would bewelcomed as a guest in the Seoul classroom. During Flat Stanley’s visit,the Seoul class would keep a journal of events, take photos, collectpostcards, etc. After a specified period of time, the Seoul class wouldmail Flat Stanley, along with his record of memories, back to Boston. Inthis respect, students can travel the world through Flat Stanley. Anextensive website with curriculum ideas and participating schools isavailable for teachers who seek this kind of meaningful culture exchange(see http://flatstanley.enoreo.on.ca).In summary, if we expect our students to be able to communicatewith native English speakers, then we must equip them with the toolsnecessary to do so. This means that we must expose students toauthentic materials, provide them with authentic language, have thempractice authentic functions and motivate them with an authenticpurpose. If all of these requirements are met, then when studentsencounter real situations, they will be fully prepared.Integration of SkillsClosely related to the issue of authenticity is the idea of integratingskills. In the past, language classes and programs have focused separatelessons or lesson stages on reading, writing, listening, and speaking.Brown (2001) points out that though some of the reasons for this makesense, it goes in opposition to the way in which the skills are used inactual language. Brown states that, “production and reception are quitesimply two sides of the same coin; one cannot split the coin in two,” andmany times multiple skills act together to complete a task. For example,when we go to a restaurant, we read the menu, listen to the dailyspecials, and speak our order to the waiter. In the language classroom,students should be offered opportunities for the same type of interaction.If they learn listening as only a unitary, detached skill, how then will theybe able to cope when they must listen and respond in real time?小结:真实性- 真实的材料- 真实的语言- 真实的活动- 真实的目的能力综合- 听说读写能力在实际语言中同时运用- 语言的产生和接收不能分割
  16. 16. 16 The Communicative ApproachIntegration of skills is a main component of Content, Theme, andExperiential-based teaching (to be discussed later), and can be easilyimplemented in the young learner classroom. In fact, Irujo (1998) pointsout that combining skills is natural for children. She writes, “For a youngchild all are inseparable parts of life. Dividing them up is simply anotherway of making them into nonsense.”The following provides an example of a lesson that combines the fourskills. First, the teacher begins the class with a storytelling. The studentslisten and ask questions as the teacher tells the story. (If possible they canread along.) Next, the teacher encourages the class to work togetherorally to change parts of the story (characters, setting, time, the ending,etc.) Then, the teacher has students work in groups to create their ownversion of the story. The teacher can provide templates for these stories(shortening the original story to a more manageable length, possiblyfour pages). By drawing pictures and writing words or short sentences, ifpossible, each group decides together how they will change the story.Each member might be responsible for one change. As a final step, theteacher might have the individual groups present their story to the class.Seated students must listen carefully for the changes and, if possible,write them down. The teacher can then have the class choose the mostinteresting new version of the story. In this activity, language isintroduced naturally, and the four skills are integrated as appropriate forthe age level.There are obvious limitations for teachers of preliterate learners. Insuch a case, teachers would focus more on speaking and listening andcould introduce writing and reading passively by having students followalong when the teacher reads, or by having students trace writing. Aninteresting activity that can be used in conjunction with storytellinginvolves the teacher writing content words from a particular story, suchas tiger, tree, sun, etc., on paper cut-outs in shapes representing thewords. The children assemble a storybook by assembling the cutouts inorder and associating meaning through the shapes (Curtain andDahlberg, 2004).
  17. 17. 17 The Communicative ApproachTeacher ConcernsCLT is now widely employed in language classrooms in the UnitedStates and is being transitioned into schools in many countries. Japan,South Korea, and Taiwan have all phased it into their public schoolcurriculum; however, for many teachers, the concept remains poorlydefined and the goals are unclear. Added to this are concerns that theywill be unable to implement this style of teaching due to what theyperceive as their own limited proficiency, combined with factors such asclass size and facilities. Li conducted a survey of Korean teachers’perceptions of CLT approaches, and found that participants felt generalconfusion over the meaning of CLT (Li, 1998). Most of them hadreceived brief lectures on CLT in their university courses or subsequenttraining sessions, which they found inadequate. Most believed that CLTapplied exclusively to the area of speaking; few understood the conceptas including other language skills. Many assumed that CLT ignoredproblems relating to grammar and accuracy. Here we will clear up someof these concerns by highlighting them and making certain distinctionsabout what is not requisite of communicative language teaching.To begin with, the Communicative Approach does not require anative English speaking teacher. Language competence is notnecessarily defined as native-like. In fact there appear to be someadvantages to teachers sharing the same native language and culture astheir students. First, in terms of teaching children, having someone ofthe same cultural and linguistic background would be beneficial for theobvious reasons that they could provide L1 support if needed(particularly for classroom management), and they could make full useof culture in lessons. It is important to note that use of the L1 is notprohibited in a communicative classroom, although the teacher shouldtry to limit the situations in which it is used. Second, in many instanceswhen students must use English in real life, it will be with anothernon-native English speaker anyway. For this reason, the acceptance ofworld Englishes, or English as an international language has becomewidespread and merges well with the ideas behind communicative教师关注的问题交际教学法对教师的目的语要求不高,必要时可以使用母语
  18. 18. 18 The Communicative Approachteaching. In fact, depending on the needs of the learner, a non-nativespeaking teacher might actually provide the most authenticity. Ideally,teachers should make a concerted effort to expose students to a variety ofEnglishes.A second misconception that teachers have is that theCommunicative Approach entirely ignores form. Although the mainemphasis of a lesson should be on meaning (form in context), there aretimes when the teacher may decide to focus on the narrower aspects oflanguage. Savignon (2001) includes a broad set of “language arts,” suchas language analysis, syntax, phonology, spelling, and so on, in themakeup of a communicative syllabus. Although meaning of the languageis certainly the primary goal, there is no reason why teachers cannotspend some time working on such aspects as spelling, vocabulary,synonyms and antonyms, phonics, short dictation, etc., even throughthe use of teaching games and activities. These activities, however,should be kept meaningful and contextualized for young learners byusing pictures, realia, and other materials.One final worry is that a communicative classroom will be noisy andunmanageable, especially if the class size is large. This is partly true, asstudents will be talking more; however, if the teacher controls the tasksby giving clear directions, goals, and time limits, then the noise level willbe minimized. The teacher should devise quick “attention getters,” suchas bells, whistles, or clappers, in order to signal the end of an activity.The teacher might even have students close their eyes and listen to asong to calm them. (Effective classroom management is the subject ofthe Managing the Classroom unit of this course.)Group work and pair work are often associated with theCommunicative Approach, as we will see later in this paper; however,they are not required of it (Savignon, 2001). How often to use group andpair work is up to the teacher. One way to make such activities easier tomanage is to have students work with the same group or the samepartner for an extended period of time. If the teacher does seek greatervariety, then he or she might make animal or color cards for students to交际教学法以教授语言意义为主,也适当涉及语言形式教师需采取一定手段吸引学生注意力,控制课堂局面交际教学法中常采用双人活动或小组活动,但非必须采用
  19. 19. 19 The Communicative Approachdraw from, so that, for example, all of the tigers can meet in one group,and all of the dragons can go in another, etc. This will make forminggroups more manageable.It appears that teachers have many misconceptions regarding theCommunicative Approach due to its relatively general guidelines andoverall flexibility. However, many of their concerns are unfounded.Role of the Teacher and StudentsIn a Communicative Approach the teacher assumes the role of afacilitator, responsible for guiding the students in their learning process.Unlike past models where the teacher was an all-knowing authorityfigure, the teacher’s presence in this case is more muted. However, thisdoes not diminish the teacher’s role. In order to provide the mostconducive learning situation, the teacher must make extra efforts to planlessons carefully by choosing appropriate, authentic materials; byproviding comprehensible input (as discussed in the Natural Approachunit); and by designing tasks and activities that guarantee successfuloutcomes. The teacher becomes a backstage coordinator who preparesstudents with costumes, props, and cues, none of which students couldperform without. It is the students, however, who are put in the spotlightonce class begins. During lessons, the teacher encourages students and isavailable to help them. In order to fulfill this role, the teacher mightinstruct students how to ask for assistance. For example, at thebeginning of the year, the teacher might make signs that say, “Can youhelp me?” “How do you say…?” “What does this word mean?” etc.Unlike the teacher-centered classrooms of the past, we call thiscommunicative classroom a learner-centered (or student-centered) one.According to Brown, such a classroom, “accounts for learners’ needs,styles, and goals (2001)” as its primary focus. Therefore, the teachermust consider these when planning lessons. For example, they mightincorporate activities that address multiple intelligences. (For moredetails, see the Multiple Intelligences Theory unit.) The goal oflearner-centered instruction is to empower students by affording themopportunities to make choices, as well as to explore their creativity. Irujo教师和学生的角色教师的角色:学习的促进者learner-centered(以学习者为中心)- 在交际法的课堂中采用- 目标:让学生自主选择,发挥学生创造力交际能力
  20. 20. 20 The Communicative Approachwrites, “More and more teachers are now realizing that it is not enoughto link various activities through themes they presume children areinterested in. The children must have a part in the selection of themesand planning how to implement them (1998).” In a learner-centeredlesson the teacher might introduce a song that the class can singtogether. The class can then develop a dance or gestures to go along withthe song. Each student might provide one idea. The teacher might evenprepare some simple musical instruments, such as bells, triangles,clappers, whistles, etc. or even provide students with the materials tomake their own. (Instructions for making simple homemade musicalinstruments for classroom use are included in the unit on ManagingMaterials.) The teacher might have students make a list of things in thesong: characters, weather, food, etc., then have the children use the listto make up a new song as a class or in small groups. The students candraw pictures to illustrate their new song then perform it for the class. Inthis case, multiple learning styles are accounted for, and students havean enormous amount of choice and responsibility in the learningprocess. The students can see the fruits of their work in the new songsthat they create, which can become part of the class repertoire.An important aspect of learner-centeredness is the idea ofcooperative learning (or collaborative learning)8. By working together toperform activities, solve problems, and create small projects, studentslearn language incidentally through the natural process of negotiatingmeaning. Since students must understand what their partners say inorder to complete a task, they may need to ask for clarification, devisestrategies for communication breakdowns, and find ways to rephrasesomething that their partner does not understand, which will lead toincreased production and greater opportunity for “noticing” (Doughty,2000).Cooperative learning is typically found in pair or small-group work.Such activities have been found especially beneficial for children.Curtain and Dahlberg (2004) state, “When children learn to workcooperatively in small groups or pairs, their opportunities for languageuse are multiplied many times over, as are their opportunities for activecooperative learning(合作学习法)
  21. 21. 21 The Communicative Approachparticipation in concrete and meaningful experiences.” They cite avariety of advantages, including more authentic student speech, a safecommunicative setting in which children can take risks, variety of classroutines, and a chance for further development of social skills.Additionally, cooperative learning leads to higher motivation forlearning, more positive student attributions for learning success, betterattitudes toward school and learning, and greater self-esteem (Slavin,1995, Grabe and Stoller, 1997).In order for cooperative learning activities to be successful foryounger learners, they must contain certain elements. First, all childrenmust have a meaningful role, and there should be “positiveinterdependence”(Curtain and Dahlberg, 2004). That is, theparticipation of all of the members should be necessary for thecompletion of the activity, and no member should feel their role is minorcompared to the others. Combined with this, children should also haveindividual responsibility for completing their role. The children mustunderstand that if they do not participate, there will be a negativeconsequence. Next, the teacher should ensure that certain social skillsare used. Curtain and Dahlberg (2004) suggest that teachers begin theactivities, “by making sure everyone has a turn to speak, givingencouragement, and listening when other group members are talking.”The teacher should monitor students as they are performing theiractivities in order to make certain that the children are following theserules. The teacher might provide a checklist of these things (simplifiedwith pictures or student names) and have the children tick them off asthey occur. As the children become accustomed to such activities, theteacher may choose to add additional social skills to the list.A final consideration when doing cooperative learning activities isfeedback. In many instances the teacher addresses the product of theactivity, but ignores mentioning the process itself. However, it is just asnecessary to inform students what they did well and what they needwork on in terms of their group processing; “the teacher helps childrenanalyze what is working well in their group and what can be improved,offers suggestions when individual groups are having specific problems,
  22. 22. 22 The Communicative Approachand focuses the attention of the entire class on a limited, manageablenumber of skills at one time (Curtain and Dahlberg, 2004).” Theteacher might also ask the students their opinion of their ownperformance. For example, the teacher might ask, “How many peoplespoke today?” or “How do you think you did today?” The teachermight give students a rating system, or have them devise their own,possibly based on colors, animals, icons, etc.In summary, in the Communicative Approach, the classroom is alearner-centered one in which cooperative learning activities are oftenimplemented. The teacher is the orchestrator of activities, but it is thestudents who become active and responsible for their learning. Pair andgroup work activities are used to maximize authentic communicationpractice, as well as to encourage the development of social skills.Content-Based InstructionOne well-known and promising embodiment of the CommunicativeApproach is content-based instruction (CBI)9, which is based on thepremise that, “people do not learn languages and then use them, butthat people learn languages by using them (Eskey, 1997).” The termCBI is used to describe teaching that combines both content (such asscience, mathematics, and arts) and language. There are a variety ofinterpretations in regard to the degree of emphasis on each of theseaspects.Met (1999) writes of a continuum of language/content integrationwith content-driven programs at one end and language-drivenprograms at the other (see Figure 4). On the content-driven end of thespectrum she cites the type of total immersion or partial immersion10programs commonly found in elementary schools as a prime example;students in such classes are expected to master the content, which isdelivered all or in part in the target language, with relatively littleexplicit language instruction. At the polar end of the language-drivenside, Met describes programs that are focused on building language,where content may be used as a means of enhancement, with noexpected goal of mastering it. The content for a single unit may come小结:- 以学生为中心- 采用合作学习法- 教师编排活动,学生学习更积极主动- 双人和小组活动增强真实交流,提高社交能力content-basedinstruction(知识性内容教学)知识性语言教学:从知识为主到语言为主的连续体- 全部沉浸式教学- 部分沉浸式教学- 保护式课程- 附属课程- 主题式的课程- 经常使用知识性语言的课堂
  23. 23. 23 The Communicative Approachfrom a variety of disciplines and is selected for its value in teachinglanguage objectives. Met provides an example of an elementary schoolteacher who decided to integrate mathematics in a language lessonabout animals. Since the teacher was aware that students were learningmultiplication at the time, she gave students the following wordproblem: “There are three trees. There are four monkeys in each tree.How many monkeys are there?”CONTENT-BASED LANGUAGE TEACHING: A CONTINUUM OF CONTENTAND LANGUAGE INTEGRATION Content-Driven Language Driven TotalImmersionPartialImmersionShelteredCoursesAdjunctModelTheme Based Frequent Use ofContent LanguagePracticeBetween these polar ends rests a middle area, which might be morerealistic for teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL). Brinton,Snow, and Wesche (1989) discuss three of these: sheltered courses11,adjunct courses12, and theme-based courses13. The first, shelteredcourses are those in which subjects such as math, science, and socialstudies are taught by a teacher who is informed about language teachingtechniques. The teacher should be able to show special sensitivity to thelanguage needs of the learner, but content mastery is still valued abovelanguage improvement.A second version of CBI that is even more accessible is the adjunctmodel, which places equal importance on language and content. In sucha model, a content instructor works alongside a language instructor, andthe student receives evaluation from both teachers (Met, 1999). Thistype of instruction demands a large degree of cooperation between thetwo instructors, as goals should be arrived at together and their lessonsmust overlap. The positive aspect of this model is that the languageinstructor is not expected to be an expert regarding the content. As anexample of this, the language teacher might decide to partner up withthe science teacher. The science teacher would sit down with thelanguage teacher, explain the class syllabus, and cue the languageteacher in to the vocabulary that students need, the discourse level thatFigure 4: CBI Continuum From Met (1999)
  24. 24. 24 The Communicative Approachstudents must understand and produce, and tasks that the students needto accomplish. The language teacher could then make his or her ownsyllabus, still focusing on meaning over form, but with more concretelydefined language learning goals.A final model is a theme-based course. In such courses, the main goalis developing target language skills, the content itself serving only as ameans to learning. “Language is used to explore content, and languagegrowth emerges as students need to comprehend or produce languagerelated content (Met, 1999).” Themes are chosen based on topics thatare interesting and appropriate for the age group and on their “potentialto contribute to the learner’s language growth in specific topical orfunctional domains (Met, 1999).” The appeal of this type of CBI is that,unlike the “stronger” content versions that have shown varying results inlanguage development, this version directly addresses languageconcerns in the syllabus design. Thematic units themselves may bebroad, lasting for weeks, or may be focused on a single fairytale, videoclip, or holiday.Curtain and Dahlberg (2004) suggest that thematic lessons foryounger learners could be in story form with clear beginnings,midpoints, and resolutions. They offer a framework for using story form.The teacher begins with the general theme (e.g., animals—a topic thatis interesting for young learners and for which it is relatively easy to findmaterials at varying language levels). Next the teacher might compileresources and materials in order to get an idea of more finite topics thatcan be addressed and to decide a relevant and appropriate languagefocus. In the sample lesson (see Figure 5), the teacher decides to narrowthe focus to topics such as animal habitats and animal characteristicsand includes matching language functions. The teacher also considersspecific language points that he or she would like to teach. Thistheme-based unit may involve one story, several stories, or a series ofstory-form activities, and might consist of the completion of severaltasks, like having children design their own fantasy animal, thatsynthesize the language and content points that have been covered. Ifpossible, the teacher may finish the unit by having the students create an
  25. 25. 25 The Communicative Approachauthentic product, in this case mailing a booklet of drawings andsupportive statements to wildlife support organization.Content Language Function CultureAnimal habitat Expressing needs Animal soundsAnimal characteristics Expressing fear Common animals in thecultureWhat animals eat Describing Cultural animal songsRelationships Suggesting Cultural animal storySpecific language goals (polar opposites):Hungry -- FullSad -- HappyGood -- BadStory form: sample activities for using storiesChoice:• One story? Series of story-form activities?• Fantasy animals: What does this baby animal need to eat and live?• Stories of animals in need in various settings.• Story of one endangered species, perhaps nearby.Tasks/Activities:• Draw pictures of animals children like and show how they get whatthey need.• Help mother and baby animals separated around the classroom to findeach other.• Design fantasy animals; tell what they need to eat, be happy, wherethey live, etc.Product:• Have the class make a booklet of drawings of animals that areendangered and that they care about. Together or individually write aclass letter to the World Wildlife Association or some other organization,and send the booklet to them.Figure 5: Sample for a Theme-Based Unit on Animals Adapted from Curtainand Dahlberg (2005)
  26. 26. 26 The Communicative ApproachAssessment/Product:• Can children participate in problem-solving with fantasy animal inneed?• Designing a fantasy animal and writing a simple description.• Responsiveness group activities and fantasy situations.Although there exists what Brown (2001) terms a “fuzzy distinction”between theme-based courses and more traditional language coursesthat use topics for discussion, reading practice and/or writing prompts,the major difference is that, compared to the latter, all types of CBI havea greater emphasis on learning from context, intrinsic motivation,communicative competence, and automaticity (Brown, 2001). In a CBIclassroom, there is typically a high degree of cooperative learning andfrequent negotiation of meaning, which are both cornerstones of theCommunicative Approach. Talking about the content or topic presents avery authentic medium for developing language. As a result, CBI hasbeen implemented successfully in K-12 settings in Western and CentralEurope, North America, and parts of Asia.Task-Based LearningThe Communicative Approach also sometimes takes the form oftask-based learning (TBL). By designing courses around tasks that arenecessary and essential for the learner, teachers are able to increasemotivation, which will result in more rapid language improvement. TBLlessons focus on completion of the task itself rather than any discretelinguistic or vocabulary knowledge (Doughty and Long, 2003).However, when deficient grammar knowledge is preventingcommunication or when students are experiencing difficulties in thenaturally occurring language, there are times when the teacher maychoose to highlight a specific form as a means of getting students to“notice” (Schmidt, 1990). Therefore, form is of concern only in itsrelationship to overall communicative competence.The rationale behind TBL is that students “learn by doing.”“Practical hands-on experience with real-world tasks bring abstracttask-based learning(任务教学法)
  27. 27. 27 The Communicative Approachconcepts and theories to life and makes them more understandable(Doughty and Long, 2003). When TBL is used in a CommunicativeApproach, some kind of information gap, whether it be a natural one asin real communication or one created by the teacher, is established. Theteacher may consider if they want to make the activity be open or closed.In an open activity, there is no correct answer; each member may havetheir own opinion. However, in a closed activity, the instructor can saythat the answer is necessarily right or wrong. Long (1990) finds thelatter type more effective since it requires greater negotiation ofmeaning. Members must come to an agreement, express their opinions,and find the correct answer. It also seems that, in terms of youngerlearners, this second type would be more motivating. Jigsaw informationexchange activities, paired information gaps, and role-plays areadditional means of practice in TBL. (Task-based learning is discussedin much greater detail in the unit entitled Experiential LearningTheory.)Communicative Approach Lesson PlanningThere is not a single prescribed way of conducting a communicativelesson. However, some teachers feel comfortable with what is known as aPPP format. PPP stands for presentation, practice, and production. Inthe first phase, presentation, the teacher typically presents a listening orreading text that includes the target language point. The teacher makessure the children understand the main point and emphasizes certainlanguage that he or she wants the children to practice.Next, the teacher makes the transition from engaging students’receptive skills, to productive skill practice. In this phase the teacherwould begin to elicit the target form, but would somehow providelanguage support; either all or some of the target language (grammarand vocabulary) should be given. For example, the teacher might makepicture cards of a simplified version of the story that he or she toldduring the presentation and place them out of order. The teacher mightalso create accompanying sentences (complete or incomplete) thatstudents could match to the pictures. In small groups or as a classopen activity(开放式活动)- 无正确答案- 允许有个人观点closed activity(封闭式活动)- 有正确答案- 更行之有效PPP 模式- 教师演示- 学生实践- 成果制作
  28. 28. 28 The Communicative Approachstudents could then arrange the cards in the correct order and find thecorresponding sentence. The teacher can then have students retell thestory. She might give them key words that they must use when retellingthe story. During this practice phase it is important that the languagepoints be introduced inductively.The final phase, production, should ideally be learner-centered andcooperative. In this phase, there should be less language support than inthe practice phase. The extent of the support depends on both thelanguage proficiency and the cognitive level of the learner. Obviously,novice level, younger learners would require more language support andoverall guidance than intermediate level adult learners. In this case, thetask should be clearly set up with a definite beginning and end. Thisphase should give the students a chance to practice the language in anew, but similar context. For example, the teacher might have studentscreate a new story, limited to about four scenes, with a similar theme tothe story he or she presented earlier in the lesson. (The PPP lessonformat and lesson planning in general is discussed in much greater detailin the unit entitled Planning Lessons.)ApplicationsDialoguesCurtain and Dahlberg (2004) suggest using a dialogue as a precursorto storytelling or as an introduction to a video clip or song. They writethat dialogues, “provide a structure for a series of expressions thatcombine to develop a situation, idea, or experience.” They add that, ifcarefully selected, dialogues can also serve to ignite a child’s imaginationand cater to a child’s love of dramatization. Dialogues should beauthentic, of reasonable length, and made up of short utterances andshould encourage a certain amount of creativity (Curtain and Dahlberg,2004). Dialogues should also contain a relatively large amount ofrecycled vocabulary and functions, so that children are notoverwhelmed by new language.Below are examples of dialogues adapted from ideas in Curtain and对话- 猜礼物
  29. 29. 29 The Communicative ApproachDahlberg (2004). In the following dialogues, the expressions in boldprint can be created by students. The teacher might encourage studentsto think of humorous responses.Dialogue A(The teacher should prepare a box as a prop and give it to student 2.)S1: HiS2: Hi. What’s that?S1: A surprise.S2: For me?S1: Maybe.S2: What’s inside? Is it a computer?S1: No. It’s smaller.S2: Is it a watch?S1: No. It’s bigger.S2: What is it? What is it? Please tell me.S1: Ok. Here, Look inside!S2: It’s a teddy bear! Thank you!Layered Gifts—This activity can be used in conjunction with thepreceding dialogue. Instead of using a simple box as a prop, the teachercan prepare a layered gift with numerous packages nested inside oneanother. Inside each package is a small “gift” and another package. Asstudents take turns participating in the dialogue, one student gives thegift to another and that student unwraps it in the process of practicingthe dialogue. That student then gives the package within to anotherstudent, taking the other role in the dialogue while the new studentunwraps the smaller package, and so on (see Figure 6).
  30. 30. 30 The Communicative ApproachDialogue BS1: Hi!S2: Hi!S1: Where are you going?S2: I’m going to the jungle.S1: How?S2: By bike.S1: Me too!S2: Great! Let’s Go!S1: Look! A snake!S2: Oh! It’s crawling.S1: Look! A monkey!S2: Oh! It’s swinging!S1: Look! A tiger!S2: It’s attacking! Let’s get out of here!Gouin SeriesAnother useful type of activity that works to support the tenets of theCommunicative Approach is the Gouin series. This technique wasGouin 句列- 6-8 个命令句或陈述句组成- 每句约 7 个音节- 每句的人称、时态统Figure 6: Layered Gifts
  31. 31. 31 The Communicative Approachinvented by Francois Gouin, who believed that language could belearned more easily if it were presented as a sequence of events, and is anice way of introducing functional chunks of language (Curtain andDahlberg, 2005). A Gouin series consists of six to eight commands orstatements of up to approximately seven syllables each. The statementsshould include action verbs of uniform tense and person. The followingis an example:Today is the Tim’s birthday.He gets a present.He opens the present.He looks inside the box.He sees a racing car.He takes out the racing car.He plays with the racing car.The racing car breaks.EpisodesOller (1983) tinkered with Gouin’s series form and created the“Episode Hypothesis.” Episodes are similar to dialogues, but eachdialogue the students are exposed to is connected by an ongoingstoryline to dialogues studied previously and those that will be studied inthe future. Oller writes that the linear sequence of episodes highlightslanguage connections, making language easier to recall and understand.The key behind using episodes, according to Oller, is creating curiosity,making learners wonder what will happen next. For this reason, anepisode looks much different from the type of emotionless dialogue thatappears in typical language textbooks. This combines cognitiveprocesses with language learning in a beneficial way (Brown, 2001;Oller, 1983). The episodes can be presented in either written or spokenform, and students can be encouraged to write their own episodes orcomplete unfinished ones. The end result might be dramatization of theepisode in front of the class (see the unit entitled Teaching ThroughDrama.) The following is an example of an episode that might beappropriate for elementary learners.
  32. 32. 32 The Communicative ApproachEpisode 1Min: Did you see my notebook?(He is worried because he needs it for the next class.)Sue: Ummm…What notebook?Min: It was on my desk.Sue: Oh, it wasn’t there.Min: Stop joking. Where is it?Sue: (Smiling.) I don’t know.Min: C’mon! Give it back!(Students can provide their own ending or develop a subsequentepisode.)Information Gap ActivitiesMany of the following activities are taken or adapted from Curtainand Dahlberg (2004), and have been organized from those requiringvery simple language to those that require more advanced levels ofproficiency. With most of these activities, it is essential that the teachermake certain that the students are not showing their information to theirpartners, but using the language to share information across the gap. Toachieve this, some sort of blind, such as two open file folders ornotebooks with their backs clipped together (see Figure 7, for example),may be helpful. (The construction of information gap blinds is discussedin greater detail in the unit entitled Managing Materials.)Mystery Dots—This activity involves a connect-the-dots picture inwhich the numbers have been scrambled. Student A has a picture withnumbered dots, and Student B has the correct sequence of numbersneeded to complete the picture. (The teacher might add distracternumbers and dots so that the picture is not immediately apparent.) Theteacher can also have students make guesses about the picture atspecified points, for example after connecting every three dots. As avariation, the dots could be labeled with letters or even written words toincrease language practice.Block Patterns—In this activity Student A has a set of coloredblocks, and Student B has a picture of how they should be arranged.故事片段含有“信息沟”的游戏- 神秘的点- 听口令搭积木
  33. 33. 33 The Communicative ApproachStudent B must instruct Student A how to arrange the blocks usingcolors, ordinal numbers, and location (top, bottom, middle, right, left,etc.) (See Figure 7.) They can then switch roles and do this again with anew picture.Find the Differences and Similarities—Each student is given aslightly different version of a picture. The pictures will be dependent onwhat vocabulary and structures the students have learned in class. Forexample, if the class has studied animals and prepositions, the picturesmay depict animals positioned in relation to each other or other knownvocabulary, such as tree or house (see Figure 8). Student A begins bydescribing his or her picture to Student B, and Student B asks questionsor describes his or her picture to Student A. Working together in this way,they should find any similarities and differences between their twopictures.- 寻找相同与不同Put the triangleabove the square. Itlooks like a house.Figure 7: Block Patterns
  34. 34. 34 The Communicative ApproachPicture Dictation—Children are put in pairs and one member of thepair is provided with or draws a picture. The subject matter of thepicture and its complexity might depend on what vocabulary andsentence structures the students have been studying and their languageproficiency. The child with the picture then describes to his or herpartner how to draw a similar picture on a blank piece of paper (seeFigure 9). Once finished, the two compare pictures to see how well theyperformed. (To reuse these pictures and to continue language practice,have pairs exchange pictures and use their classmates’ drawings in theabove activity, Spot the Similarities and Differences.) As a variation onthis activity, children can describe to their partner a scene that they arefamiliar with from memory, such as the layout of their own home or theroute they travel to get to school, while the partner draws it.There are twobig rooms on thefirst floor.Are there only tworooms on the firstfloor?Figure 8: Find the Similarities and Differences.
  35. 35. 35 The Communicative ApproachWhat’s In My Backpack?—Each student draws a picture of abackpack on a sheet of paper. The teacher should try to make it so thepaper is folded over, so that students can actually “look inside.” Theclass then brainstorms a list of items that could be included in thebackpack. The students then draw whatever items they choose from thelist “inside” of their backpacks. After this is finished, students form pairsand ask or try to guess what their partner has in his or her backpack (seeFigure 10). By the end of this, Student A should note down all of theitems that Student B has in their backpack (by drawing if the childrenare preliterate) and vice versa. Then, Student A will introduce to theclass what Student B’s backpack contains. A variation of this activityasks students to find other students with contents identical to theirs byasking around the room.Dress the Bear—Each student has a picture or figure of a bear (orpaper doll) and a variety of pieces of clothing, with different colors anddesigns. Student A dresses the bear and then tells Student B how to dressthe bear. Student B can ask questions for clarification. When finished,they show each other their bears, and they should have twins. This canalso be adapted to a “find the differences” activity. Each student dresses- 背包里有什么- 帮小熊穿衣There are aturtle and amonkey nextto a tree.Is the tree betweenthe turtle and themonkey?Figure 9: Picture Dictation
  36. 36. 36 The Communicative Approachthe bear as they want, and when they finish they ask each otherquestions to find the differences.Where’s My Teddy Bear?—Each student has a picture of a house orapartment with a number of rooms and furniture. Each child is asked to“hide” something in the house, for example a teddy bear, a piggy bank,etc. by drawing it into the picture. They must then each find theirpartner’s object by asking questions. The language focus can includeprepositions of location, furniture vocabulary, adjectives etc. Otherillustration frames can also be used, such as a zoo, a neighborhood, aschool, etc.Corners—In this activity, the teacher should post visuals in eachcorner of the classroom. The teacher has students make choices aboutwhich corner they would like to go to. For example, the teacher mightask students to imagine that they are going on a class trip and mustdecide on the following options: seashore, mountain, woods, or lake.- 寻找我的玩具熊- 童话故事填充 Is there apencil inyourbackpack?Yes, there is. Isthere a pen inyours?Figure 10: What’s In My Backpack?
  37. 37. 37 The Communicative ApproachStudents must think about which choice they prefer and what they wantto do there. They should then go to the corner that has the matchingvisual. Once in the corner, they should find a partner, and should tellhim or her one thing that they want to do on their trip. After bothstudents exchange information, they raise their hands to indicate theyare looking for a new partner. They can do this for several turns. Thenthe teacher can stop the activity and ask questions such as, “What doesJane want to do at the beach?”Integrated Skills ActivitiesAs discussed earlier, integration of the four language skills (listening,speaking, reading, and writing) is a hallmark of CommunicativeApproach activities. Although the possibilities for integrated skillsactivities are limited only by the teacher’s imagination, a few aredescribed here to provide further clarity as to how skills may beintegrated in classroom activities. Some of the following examples aretaken or adapted from Wright (1997).A Fairy Tale with a Hole in It—Before presenting this activity, theteacher should have already told fairytales to students in previouslessons. In this activity, groups of students work on creating their ownfairy tale, using a written partial story as a guide to help them. (See, forexample, Figure 11.)Once upon a time there was a/an (main character) who lived in a/an (place).He/she was very sad because ______. Then one day he/she met a/an (magicperson/animal/monster of some sort) who said, “Can I help you?”“Yes, please,” said the (main character). The(magic character) gave him/her a/an ______(a magic object) and said, “______”The (main character) did what the(magic character) said, and the next morning ______Now the (main character) was very happy and lived happily ever after.- 教室之角综合能力的游戏Figure 11: A Fairy Tale With a Hole in It
  38. 38. 38 The Communicative ApproachAdditionally, the teacher may number the spaces and provide a listof possibilities from which the students can choose. The students mightthen write their own, individual version, and act it out or tell it to theclass. The remaining students in the class listen, and after the story hasbeen acted out, may ask questions to the group members about theirstory.Dialogue with a Dragon—Tell the children that you are going to tella story and that they must be very quiet because they are going to leavethe classroom and go into the forest. Divide the class into groups ofthree. (They will need to be in these groups immediately after the story.)One student in each group will be a dragon. Pre-teach necessaryvocabulary, then tell the story shown in Figure 12. Use a lot of visualswhile telling the story to connect meaning.A dragon is lying in the middle of the forest. He is not asleep, but his eyes areclosed and he is thinking and listening. He hears two people walking in theforest, between the trees. The people are trying to walk quietly. They lookaround the forest—at the trees, up at the sky, down at the ground. It is veryquiet and very dark. The people have a strange feeling. They feel a little scared.One of the people sees two sticks on the ground. The person picks the stick up;it is not just a stick, it is a very special, magic stick! Suddenly, the people hear anoise. What is it? They see a dragon. The dragon opens his eyes and sees the twopeople.The students should be curious at this point. Now the teacher shouldhave students think about what happens next, and have them work ingroups to write a dialogue, one student is the dragon, and the other twoare people. After they are finished writing, they should act out theirversion of the story for the class. A variation of this is having the studentswork in pairs or individually to finish the story.ConclusionsCLT, or the Communicative Approach is not a teaching method;rather, it is a view of language teaching that emphasizes authentic,- 和龙的对话Figure 12: Dialogue with a Dragon Story Starter
  39. 39. 39 The Communicative Approachinteractive communication as a means of empowering students tointeract in “real life” contexts. Teachers using such an approach mayhave very different ways of implementing it, including unique teachingstyles, activities, and lesson design. However at the focus of every lessonshould be the needs of the learner.At the center of the Communicative Approach is the concept ofcommunicative competence, which can most easily be described as thewhole of all the skills required to communicate effectively. Generally,several types of skills are recognized as making up communicativecompetence. These include: 1.) grammatical competence (knowledge ofgrammar rules, vocabulary, pronunciation, sentence formation, etc.), 2.)sociolinguistic competence (awareness of what tone, register, and level offormality should be used in varying social contexts), 3.) discoursecompetence (understanding how to communicate in various genresranging from formal debate to casual conversation with propercoherence of meaning and cohesion of language form), and 4.) strategiccompetence (knowing how to use the language to cope with distractionsor breakdowns in communication).The Communicative Approach puts the focus of lessons on themeaning and function of the language rather on its grammatical form.In this way, language acquisition is achieved through inductive learning,in which students are allowed to “notice” or discover the structural rulesand meaning of the language through repeated exposure, as opposed todeductive learning, which usually takes the form of rote memorizationand drilling of vocabulary, grammar rules, and sentence patternsremoved from meaningful context. The teacher then moves studentsfrom simple comprehension of the language to production of it throughthe use of contextualized role-plays, games, stories, and information gapactivities, such as group jigsaw activities and biographical databases.The Communicative Approach’s focus on meaning over form also affectshow errors are corrected. Instead of overtly correcting student errors inspeech, for example, the teacher might simply recast or restate thestudent’s utterance correctly in such a way as to encourage continuedconversation. Rather than forcing the student to notice his or her
  40. 40. 40 The Communicative Approachmistake then, this type of error correction simply gives the student theopportunity to notice the mistake on his or her own.Another essential component of the Communicative Approach isauthenticity. The materials used must be authentic for the age group,representing the types of language the student would encounter in reallife. Similarly, structures or vocabulary presented should also beauthentic for the age and surrounding culture of the learners.Furthermore, students should have the opportunity to both ask andanswer questions rather than exclusively answering questions posed bythe teacher. The Communicative Approach also features teaching thefour primary language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writingin an integrated manner, often mixing practice of them within the samelesson or activity, just as they are likely to be used in authenticcommunicative situations.The roles of the students and the teacher in a CommunicativeApproach differ markedly from those of a more traditional classroom.Communicative Approach classes are student-centered, while theteacher’s role becomes one of facilitating communication and providingsupport only when necessary. This sort of learner-centeredness is oftenachieved through the use of cooperative learning activities, or open orclosed tasks in a type of learning known as task-based learning (TBL).Sometimes the Communicative Approach also takes the form ofcontent-based or theme-based instruction in which students learn thelanguage inductively through varying degrees of emphasis on thecontent of other traditional school subjects or topical themes rather thanexclusively on language learning targets. Curricula following this sort ofinstruction may range from being fully content-driven to being mostlylanguage-driven with several models occurring along the continuum.Existing models include total immersion, partial immersion, shelteredlanguage, adjunct model, theme-based, and content language practiceprograms.Research has revealed that teachers have a number ofmisconceptions about the Communicative Approach. These
  41. 41. 41 The Communicative Approachmisconceptions include: 1.) teachers of a Communicative Approachmust be native-like speakers of the target language; 2.) it is impossible touse the Communicative Approach with large classes; 3.) theCommunicative Approach precludes any attention to language form; 4.)and the Communicative Approach leads to classes that are difficult tomanage. None of these are true. On the contrary, non-native speakingteachers are often preferred because they have better awareness of thestudent’s culture and life context and because they can occasionally usethe students’ mother tongue for support and explanation if necessary.Group and pair practice is very often used in the CommunicativeApproach, making it possible to use it with the largest of classes. TheCommunicative Approach does allow occasional practice of problematiclanguage forms so long as the practice is put into a meaningfulcommunicative context, and finally, although classes in which theCommunicative Approach is used will naturally be a bit noisier due to allthe communication going on, they are certainly manageable if theteacher learns some useful techniques for regaining student attentionwhen it is necessary to provide further instructions or clarification or tomove on to another lesson phase.Although there is a great deal of variation in how CommunicativeApproach teachers organize and plan their lessons, one popular model isknown as PPP. This model of lesson planning takes students throughcontextualized presentation, practice, and production stages. In terms ofapplying the Communicative Approach, again teachers use a widevariety of techniques, ranging from using dialogues, to stories (often inthe form of a Gouin series), to episodes, to information gaps, tointegrated skills activities. No matter how a teacher goes about planningand implementing Communicative Approach lessons, however, CLTprovides him or her with a framework based on proven principles, andat the same time allows a unique degree of flexibility that was seldomseen in the past.Notes1) communicative competence (交际能力): 指不仅能够使用语
  42. 42. 42 The Communicative Approach法规则来组成语法正确的句子,而且知道何时何地向何人正确使用这些句子的能力。交际能力包括:语言的词汇及语法知识;说话规则(如知道如何开始并结束谈话,不同言语活动中谈论什么话题,不同场合下对不同的人用什么称谓形式);掌握如何使用不同的言语行为,如请求、道歉、致谢和邀请,并对其作出反应;掌握如何适当地使用语言。如果想与别人进行交际,就必须注意社会场景、他们之间的关系及特定场合中可以使用的语言的类型,还必须理解书面或口头表达出来的句子在上下文中的意思。例如,英语句子 It’s rather cold in here (这里挺冷的),特别是对下属角色来说,可能是一个请求,表示关窗、关门或打开暖气。2) performance (语言运用): (转换生成语法中)指人对语言的实际运用。一个人的语言知识(语言能力 competence)不同于他用这种知识来造成句子和理解句子的方式(语言运用)。语言能力和语言运用的差异,可从生成长而复杂的句子中看出来。根据语言知识人们可以说出无限长的句子,但真的试图使用这种知识(即“运用”)时,却有种种原因限制句子中的形容词、副词和字句的数量。说话的人可能会喘不过气来,听话的人会感到乏味,或者如果句子太长就会忘了所说的内容。在第二语言和外语学习中,学习者对一种语言运用可以表明他或她的语言能力。3) coherence (连贯): 连接语篇中话语的意义或语段中句子的意义的关系。这些联系可能建立在说话者共有的知识之上。一般来说,如果一段话的各个句子都围绕中心大意展开(即主题句和展开论证的有关句子)这段话就具有连贯性。4) cohesion (连结): 语段中不同部分之间的语法和/或词汇关系,这种联系可能存在于句子之间,也可能存在于一个句子中不同部分之间。5) deductive learning (演绎学习法): 语言教学的一种方法,向学习者传授语言规则并列出语言的具体知识。学习者然后在使用语言的过程中运用这些规则。强调学习语言语法规
  43. 43. 43 The Communicative Approach则的教学方法(如语法翻译法)使用演绎学习法原理。6) inductive learning (归纳学习法): 该语言教学方法不向学习者直接传授语法或其他类型的规则,而是让他们从使用语言的经验中发现或归纳出规则,强调语言运用而不是语言知识的描述。7) information gap (信息沟): (两个或更多人之间的交际中)信息只有在场人中的一些知道的一种情形。“交际语言教学”中认为,为在学生之间创造真实的交流,他们之间或者他们与老师之间必须有一个信息沟,否则课堂活动或联系将变得机械和不自然。8) cooperative learning (合作学习法): 教和学的一种方法,把班级分成合作小组,学生们以合作小组的形式进行学习。这种方法能够促进学习,因为对许多学生来说这种方法压力相对小些;提高了学生的课堂参与;减少竞争;减少教师的课堂支配作用。9) content-based instruction (CBI) (知识性内容教学): 作为第二语言的英语课程,以教学正规课堂上所需技能为主,即为学习知识性学科如数学、地理或生物作准备。该课程向学生传授转正规课程所需的技能。immersion program (沉浸式教学): 双语教学的一种形式,只说一种语言的儿童在以另一种语言作为教学媒介的学校里上课。如果全天用另一种语言给儿童授课,则称之为全部沉浸式教学 (total immersion program);如果只在一天的部分时间里使用,则称之为部分沉浸式教学 (partialimmersion program)。10) sheltered course (保护式课程): 指一些知识性学科,如数学、科学、社会课程等,让有语言技能的教师采用目的语教授,教师对学生语言水平的提高有所关注,但是对知识的掌握还是占主要地位。 这种课程的目的是,在帮助英语水平有限的学生提高英语水平的同时,也让他们在知识性学科上学有所得。11) adjunct course (附属课程): 在此教学模式下,语言与知识教
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