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The Communicative Approach in Action: CLT Strategies and Activities

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Sussan Roo

on 21 October 2013

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Transcript of The Communicative Approach in Action: CLT Strategies and Activities

CLT Strategies and Activities
Functional communication activities require students to use their language resources to overcome an information gap or solve a problem (get meanings across).

Social interactional activities require the learner to pay attention to the context and the roles of the people involved, and to attend to such things as formal versus informal language. (appropriateness)
Types of information processing
Top-down and Bottom-up
Functional communicative activities
Information-gap act.: Students use their linguistic and communicative resources in order to obtain information they don't possess.
Exercise 3. Haunted house

Jigsaw act.: the class is divided into groups and each group has part of the information needed to complete an activity. The class must fit the pieces together to complete the whole.
Exercise 4. Jigsaw

Information-transfer act.: Students take information that is presented in one form, and represent it in a different form.
Exercise 5. Family tree

Task-completion act.: puzzles, games, etc.
One of the goals of CLT is to
develop fluency.
Fluency is natural language use occurring when a speaker engages in meaningful interaction and maintains comprehensible and ongoing communication despite limitations in his or her communicative competence.
On the other hand, accuracy focuses on creating correct examples of language use

With CLT began a movement away from traditional lesson formats where the focus was on mastery of different items of grammar and practice through controlled activities such as memorization of dialogs and drills, and toward the use of pair work activities, role plays, group work activities and project work. These activities will be
discussed today.
The 6 golden rules of CLT teachers
Communicative activities
Mechanichal, meaningful and communicative practice
Fluency vs. Accuracy
Make real communication the focus of language learning.
Provide opportunities for learners to experiment and try out what they know.
Be tolerant of learners’ errors as they indicate that the learner is building up his or her communicative competence.
Provide opportunities for learners to develop both accuracy and fluency.
Link the different skills such as speaking, reading, and listening together, since they usually occur so in the real world.
Let students induce or discover grammar rules.
Differences between fluency and accuracy activities
The Communicative Approach in action
Thanks to research in SLA, nowadays language learning is seen as resulting from processes such as:
Interaction between the learner and users of the language
Collaborative creation of meaning
Creating meaningful and purposeful interaction through language
Negotiation of meaning as the learner and his or her interlocutor arrive at understanding
Learning through attending to the feedback learners get when they use the language
Paying attention to the language one hears (the input) and trying to incorporate new forms into one’s developing communicative competence
Trying out and experimenting with different ways of saying things
I. 3 main distinctions:
A. Fluency vs Accuracy activities
B. Mechanical, meaningful and communicative practice
C. Functional communicative activities and social interactional activities.

II. Types of information processing:
A. Top-down
B. Bottom-up

III. Current CLT methodology: Content Based Instruction (CBI)
The Kinds of Classroom Activities That Best
Facilitate Learning
CLT in the classroom:
Strategies and activities
How is fluency developed?
Fluency is developed by creating
classroom activities in which students must negotiate meaning, use communication strategies, correct misunderstandings, and work to avoid communication
Exercise 1. Office party role-play
Mechanical practice
Refers to a controlled practice activity which students can successfully carry out without necessarily understanding the language they are using.

Examples of this kind of activity would be repetition drills and substitution drills designed to practice use of particular grammatical or other items.
Meaningful practice
Refers to an activity where language control is still provided but where students are required to make meaningful choices when carrying out practice.

Example: Answering questions of the location of a building Using a map and a list of prepositions.

The practice is meaningful because they have to respond according to the location of
places on the map.
Communicative practice
Refers to activities where practice in using language within a real communicative context is the focus, where real information is exchanged, and where the language used is not totally predictable.

For example, students might have to draw a map of their neighborhood and answer questions about the location of different places.
Exercise 2.
Functional communicative act. and social interactional act.
Information-gathering act.: Surveys, interviews, etc.
Exercise 6. Hello Bingo
Opinion-sharing act.: Students compare values, opinions and beliefs.
Exercise 7. Points of view
Role-plays: activities in which students are assigned roles and improvise a scene or exchange based on given information or clues.
Exercise 8. Role-plays
More functional communicative act.
Information is processed as a whole. Trying to understand the meaning of a reading or listening selection without worrying about the individual components of language.

Listening for the gist and reading for the gist are two types of top-down activities. The learner is trying to understand using cues such as intonation, tone of voice or body language without focusing on specific words and structures.

Exercise 9.
Andy brought me another present today. It was too late to save it so I buried it in the garden. I think I’m going to have to put a bell round his neck.
Processing information from the most basic blocks of language, such as words, and then proceeding to more complex structures, and finally to meaning.

Listening for exact words or phrases would be considered a bottom-up listening activity. Also, studying individual grammatical structures or sentence structures would be bottom-up.
Can you think of more examples?
A current CLT methodology
Content-Based Instruction
CBI is a methodology that is like an extension of the CLT movement but which takes a different route to achieve
the goal of communicative language teaching – to develop learners’ communicative competence
Why Content-Based Instruction?
Advocates of CBI believe that the best way to achieve communicative competence is by using content as the
driving force of classroom activities and to link all the different dimensions of communicative competence, including grammatical competence, to content.
What is content?
Content refers to the information or subject matter that we learn or communicate through language rather than the language used to convey it.
Of course, any language lesson involves content, whether it be a grammar lesson,
a reading lesson, or any other kind of lesson. Content of some sort has to be the vehicle which holds the lesson or the exercise together, but in traditional approaches to language teaching, content is selected after other decisions have been made.
So, how does CBI work?
In CBI, decisions about content are made first, and other kinds of decisions concerning grammar, skills, functions, etc., are made later.

In other words, the teacher runs a course on current affairs, or American history, or fiction writing, through which students also learn English.

In CBI, English ends up as subordinate to the material, although the teacher must recognize and be prepared to help students with language skills.
People learn a language more successfully when they use the language as a means of acquiring information, rather than as an end in itself.
CBI better reflects learners’ needs for learning a foreign language.
Content provides a coherent framework that can be used to link and develop all of the language skills.
Content-based instruction is based on the following assumptions about language learning:
The Sheltered Model: It is used at university where the goal of teachers is to enable their ESL students to study the same content material as regular English L1 students. it is called “sheltered” because learners are given special assistance to help them understand regular classes.
The Adjunct Model: Undertaken by ESL teachers to prepare students for “mainstream” classes where they will join English L1 learners.
The Theme Based Model: These classes can be taught by EFL teachers who create content material based on the needs and interests of the students.
CBI Models:
Language learning becomes more interesting and motivating.
CBI offer a wide educational knowledge to learners in the form of the different topics instructed.
Developing collaborative skills, especially when using group work, which can have great social value.
CBI implicit language instruction can confuse learners and may give them the impression that they are not actually learning language.
Finding information sources and texts that lower levels can understand can be difficult.
Richards, J. (2006) Communicative Language Teaching Today. New York: Cambridge University Press

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