Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), also known as the Communicative Approach, is an educational approach to the teaching of foreign languages that emphasizes interaction as both the means and goal of language learning. The point is that students will learn if they must communicate real meaning. When involved in real communication contexts, there are certain strategies for language acquisition that allow students to learn how to use the language.
Instead of focusing mainly on developing grammar competence, the emphasis is given to oral skills prior to reading and writing. Students are encouraged to incorporate their personal experiences into the classroom, so the proposed tasks have personal significance for them. Students are put at the center of the classroom and the learning experience and therefore the teachers are conceived as facilitators of the learning process rather than instructors.
The Communicative Language Teaching appeared during the 1970s due to a shift in the views on language learning. British linguists, dissatisfied with the audio-lingual and grammar-translation method of second language education, proposed a new method based on the need for communicative proficiency within a social context rather than on mere mastery of certain vocabulary and grammatical structures.
How to create a communicative classroom?
Currently, the Communicative Approach is the most popular and most used in modern and reputable language institutions. After completing your professional TEFL course you will be prepared to deliver successful English lessons within multilingual and multicultural environments. However, keep in mind that you will need to keep learning and reading as much as you can. Practice makes perfect, and teaching couldn’t be any different!
Keep reading and review some activities you can implement in your communicative classroom!
Role-play is a communicative activity that allows students to play a certain role, putting themselves into somebody else’s shoes. Students get to interact with their peers in a supported environment, thus developing experience and trying different strategies.
Students are given a certain role to play in a conversation or other kind of interaction, such as an email exchange, for instance. The topic or role given must have personal relevance for your students. You may need to give your students some instructions on what to say or how to act. Afterwards, your students will act out the scenario and you can reflect and discuss altogether on the outcome of the exercise.
2. Filling in missing information
This is a wonderful communicative activity that allows your students to practice oral and written expression as well as comprehension. Before the lesson, you will have carefully prepared two sheets per pair of students. Let’s say you are learning about nationalities and countries. It could be two sheets with a map of the countries you wish to teach, and each sheet has different missing information. You could add the name of the countries but also more info such as the currency used and other interesting facts about the country. Each student will have to ask questions and their partners will fill in the missing information. After all the pairs have finished, you can discuss everything they found out about the countries.
3. Telling a tale
With this activity, your students will practice how to tell stories in the past (though it can also be adapted to tell stories in the present and the future). You group your students in a circle. You will have a small ball in your hand and start by telling the first sentence of the story and pass the ball onto a student. They will have to continue creating the story (using verbs in the past tense) and passing it on again to the next student. You can adapt and modify the activity as you like, your students will enjoy it a lot!
4. Describing a picture
This activity is perfect to practice oral expression and oral comprehension. Your students sit in pairs and you give one student of each pair one picture. Choose the picture carefully according to what your students need to learn. The student holding the picture will have to describe it to his partner, who will start drawing what is being described. In the end, they both compare what they have, and I can guarantee you that there will be lots of fun in this activity. The activity can be repeated exchanging the students’ roles.