What is CLT or Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)?
Why do language school owners, DOS (Directors of Studies), HR Managers, hiring departments ask about it? On one very recent ZOOM interview, an EBC Trinity Cert TESOL graduate had a 20-minute talk with the interviewer solely on CLT. Is this something you learn? Is this something that increases your marketability when looking for TEFL jobs? Is it taught and implemented at the Trinity CertTESOL course?
Before we go any further, what does the acronym stand for? CLT stands for Communicative language teaching. CLT is the educational approach to teaching foreign languages that emphasises interaction as both the means and goal of language learning. With CLT, ELLs (English language learners) or language learners, in general, will learn that they must communicate the real meaning. On the EBC Trinity College CertTESOL course, we emphasise the importance of CLT from the start. We teach tried and tested strategies right from the very beginning. EBC Trinity CertTESOL trainees use CLT strategies in their first teaching practice classes from week one. They are shown and taught how to implement learning strategies to improve their students’ language acquisition. Instead of focusing mainly on grammar acquisition and competence, the emphasis is on oral skills before reading and writing. The EBC Trinity CertTESOL trainees get taught to encourage their ELLs to incorporate their personal experiences into the classroom. Hence, the proposed tasks have personal significance for them. Teaching practice classes taught by the EBC Trinity CertTESOL trainee teachers have ELLs as the focal point. From this process, the EBC Trinity CertTESOL trainee teacher learns how to be a facilitator rather than just an instructor or teacher.
The Communicative Language Teaching appeared during the 1970s due to a shift in language learning views. British linguists, dissatisfied with the audio-lingual and grammar-translation method of second language education, proposed a new approach based on the need for communicative proficiency within a social context rather than mere mastery of particular vocabulary and grammatical structures.
How to create a communicative classroom?
Currently, the Communicative Approach is the most popular and most used in most modern, reputable, and international educational institutions. You learn about CLT and how to create and deliver successful English lessons within multilingual and multicultural environments on the EBC Trinity CertTESOL course.
You get taught the CLT approach from week 1. With this style of teaching, practice, continuous learning and reading, very quickly, our trainees will have loads of activities to implement in their communicative classrooms! At the EBC Trinity CertTESOL course, CLT strategies are taught with endless examples amassed in time from working EFL and ESL teachers. This means our trainees are given real-life EFL/ESL knowledge rather than untried textbook theories. EBC Trinity CertTESOL trainees are taught hundreds of short, simple, or complex CLT strategies that could be subdivided into language levels, age groups or even personal objectives. The effective CLT employed with a 45-year-old Managing Director will not be the same one used with an 18-year-old starting university in the Fall. The CLT strategies vary as well when we are talking group or individual classes. The CLT fundamentals remain the same, but the study plan, its implementation and delivery changes. At EBC, we believe in the KISS (Keep it short and simple) philosophy because if we can teach you the most important benefits in a shorter time frame, we will and so with that here are 4 basic and general CLT examples as found on the EBC Trinity CertTESOL curriculum.
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 and students in a supported environment, thus developing experience and trying different strategies. On the EBC Trinity CertTESOL course, our trainee teachers start by learning the different strategies, they are given specific examples of these strategies and they get to practice these CLT strategies in class with peers and with ELLs in their teaching practice classes.
Depending on the topic, level and objectives of the ELLs, our trainees are given different roles to play in an interaction or a conversation. An example would be a written strategy like an email and a spoken strategy like a Zoom meeting. All topics and roles are personally relevant to the students. For example, if the class is composed of C1 secretaries in touch with international clients all the time, the role should be directly relevant to this function. You may need to give your students some instructions on what to say or how to act. The class will see the students acting out the scenario, in the personally relevant role chosen for them. Afterwards, 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. An example is learning about different nationalities. There will be two sheets per pair of students. The two sheets will have a map of the countries you wish to teach, and the ELLs will have to fill out the missing information. Each student will have to ask questions and their partners will fill in the missing information. Afterwards, in pairs, they can discuss the outcome of the exercise.
3. Telling a tale
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, change the verb tense as you like, your students will enjoy it a lot!
4. Describing a picture
To practice oral expression and comprehension, this is a great activity. The student will practice how to tell stories in the chosen tense. For example, they can tell a story in the past. In pairs one describes a picture to his partner. The partner will draw a picture according to what he hears from the explanation. The student holding the picture will have to describe it to his partner, who will start drawing what is being described. Afterwards, 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.
On the Online Trinity College CertTESOL course, teaching trainees CLT is even more important than it ever was. Whilst technology has proven to be man’s second-best friend, it can also confuse us. As most experienced teachers will say, visual based teaching is one of the best styles you can ever employ. While visuals can be beautifully shown on Online classes, we should not forget that our students want to hear us. They want to hear your explanations and feel that you are with them. With effective CLT strategies, this is something that you can easily achieve. Learn to be the best, train with only the best.