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Principles and techniques of the Communicative Approach.

All the methods described so far are symbolic of the progress foreign language teaching ideology underwent in the last century. These were methods that came and went, influenced or gave birth to new methods - in a cycle that could only be described as competition between rival methods or even passing fads in the methodological theory underlying foreign language teaching. Finally, by the mid-eighties or so, the industry was maturing in its growth and moving towards the concept of a broad "approach" to language teaching that encompassed various methods, motivations for learning English, types of teachers and the needs of individual classrooms and students themselves. It would be fair to say that if there is any one umbrella approach to language teaching that has become the accepted "norm" in this field, it would have to be the Communicative Language Teaching Approach. This is also known as CLT. Basic Features of CLT David Nunan lists five basic characteristics of Communicative Language Teaching:

(1) An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language.

(2) The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation.

(3) The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on the language but also on the learning process itself.

(4) An enhancement of the learner's own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning.

(5) An attempt to link classroom language learning with language activation outside the classroom.

Finnochiaro and Brumfit compiled this list of CLT features way back in 1983 as a means of comparing it to the Audiolingual Method. Below each feature in blue italics is the feature of ALM to which it was being compared.

(1) CLT: Meaning is paramount.

ALM: Attends to structure and form more than meaning.

(2) CLT: Dialogs, if used, center around communicative functions and are not normally memorized.

ALM: Demands more memorization of structure-based dialogs.

(3) CLT: Language learning is learning to communicate.

ALM: Language Learning is learning structures, sounds or words.

(4) CLT: Drilling may occur, but peripherially.

ALM: Drilling is a central technique.

(5) CLT: Comprehensible pronunciation is sought.

ALM: Native-speaker-like pronunciation is sought.

(6) CLT: Any device which helps the learners is accepted - varying according to their age, interest, etc.

ALM: Grammatical explanation is avoided.

8.Communicative Competence in foreign language teaching. Communicative Ñompetence consists of:
1. Grammatical
2. Discourse
3. Sociolinguistic
4. Strategic

The first two sub-categories reflect the use of language itself. Thus Grammatical Competence includes “knowledge of lexical items and of rules of morphology, syntax, sentence-grammar semantics and phonology” [3]. The second sub-category is Discourse Competence – the ability to connect sentences in discourse and to form a meaningful whole out of a series of utterances. While Grammatical Competence focuses on sentence-level grammar, Discourse Competence is concerned with intersentential relationships.

The last two sub-categories define the most functional aspects of communication. Sociolinguistic Competence “requires an understanding of the social context in which language is used: the roles of the participants, the information they share and the function of the interaction” [8]. The fourth sub-category is Strategic Competence, a construct that is exceedingly complex. Canale and Swain [3] describe Strategic Competence as “the verbal and non-verbal communication strategies that may be called into action to compensate for breakdowns in communication due to performance variables or due to insufficient competence”.

In fact, Strategic Competence is the way we manipulate language in order to meet communicative goals. An eloquent speaker possesses and uses a sophisticated Strategic Competence. For example, a salesman utilizes certain strategies of communication to make a product seem irresistible. A teacher also uses some strategies of communication to make a student not only remember the material he or she teaches but also to teach him to study.

Canale and Swain’s definition of Communicative Competence has undergone some other modifications over the years. These newer views are best described in Lyle Bachman’s [1] schematization of what he simply calls Language Competence.

Canale and Swain’s Sociolinguistic Competence is now broken into two separate pragmatic categories: functional aspects of language and sociolinguistic aspects. In keeping with current waves of thought, Bachman adds that Strategic Competence is an entirely separate element of the Communicative Competence skill. Here, Strategic Competence serves as an “executive function of making the final ‘decision’, among many possible options, on wording, phrasing, and other productive and receptive means for negotiating meaning” [3].

Cross-cultural research done by different linguists [2] has shown that there exist characteristics of culture that make one culture different from another, and it is cultural awareness that helps learners and teachers of a second language understand both cultural differences and the impact of culturally-induced behavior on language and communication. Cross-cultural awareness covers life and institutions, beliefs and values, everyday attitudes and feelings conveyed not only by language, but also by paralinguistic features such as dress, gesture, facial expression, stance and movement. The term “cultural awareness” from the standpoints of Barri Tomalin and Susan Stempleski [9, p.5] should include three qualities:

1. Awareness of one’s own culturally-induced behavior

2. Awareness of the culturally-induced behavior of others

3. Ability to explain one’s own cultural standpoint

Sociolinguistic Competence in the framework of pragmatics (the way in which language use is influenced by social context) includes the functional aspect of language. Pragmatic conventions of language are sometimes difficult to learn because of the disparity between language forms and functions. Linguistic studies in the field of pragmatics have heightened awareness of the degree to which cross-cultural communication is affected by culturally-related factors. Such factors include people’s expectations regarding the appropriate level of formality and degree of politeness in discourse.

The functional approach to describing language has its roots in the traditions of British linguist J. R. Firth, who viewed language as interactive and interpersonal, as a way of behaving and making others behave. Michael Halliday [4], who provided one of the best expositions of language functions, used the term “function” to mean the purposive nature of communication and outlined seven different functions of language: a) instrumental; b) regulatory; c) representational; d) interactional; e) personal; f) heuristic; g) imaginative.

Among these different functions Halliday outlined two functions which are of great importance from the view of Strategic Competence, namely: the interactional and personal functions of language. The interactional function serves to ensure social maintenance, that is such a communicative contact between and among human beings that simply allows them to establish social contact and to keep channels of communication open. Successful interactional communication requires knowledge of slang, jargon, jokes, folklore, cultural aspects, politeness and formality expectations, and other clues to social exchange. The personal function allows a speaker to express feelings, emotions, personality. A person’s individuality is usually characterized by his or her use of the personal function of communication. In the personal function, the nature of language, cognition and culture all interact. This can be covered by the “little c” (the culturally-influenced behavior) according to the theory proposed by G. Robinson, an expert in the area of cross-cultural education [7], who distinguishes “Big C” Culture (general information on Culture) from “little c” culture (culturally-influenced behavior, treated in an anecdotal, peripheral or supplementary way).

Of utmost importance has been the awareness of culturally-determined patterns of non-verbal communication (as an important part of Strategic Competence) such as gesture, posture, and facial expression. Studies have shown these non-verbal elements to be the most culturally-influenced part of behavior, for one thing because non-verbal signals acceptable in one culture may be completely unacceptable in another.

These seven different functions of language are neither discrete nor naturally exclusive. A single sentence or a conversation might incorporate many different functions simultaneously. Yet the problem is how to use these linguistic forms correctly. A learner might acquire correct word order, syntax, and lexical items but not understand how to achieve a desired and intended function through careful selection of words, structure, intonation, non-verbal signals, and perceptions of the context of a particular stretch of discourse.

The acquisition of styles and registers is a very important factor in Strategic Competence for second language learners. A major problem in cross-cultural variation is understanding cognitively and effectively what levels of formality are appropriate or inappropriate. The acquisition of verbal and non-verbal elements of Communicative Competence in the social cultural context leads to a proper Strategic Competence.

Date: 2015-01-02; view: 2563

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