Key Issues in Communicative Language Teaching
A major review of language occurred in1970s. Linguists began to look at language, not as interlocking sets o f grammatical, lexical, and phonological rules, but as a tool for expressing meaning. This development had a great effect on language teaching methodology. In the earliest form of communicative language teaching, meaning was emphasized over form, fluency over accuracy. It also led to the progress of differentiated courses that reflected the different communicative needs of learners. This needs-based approach also boosted another trend that was emerging at the time-that o f learner-centered education.
Focus on the Learner
The learner is actively involved in learner-centered classroom. In learner-centered classroom,. There are two aspects to this learner involvement. The first is the involvement of learners in making decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and how to be evaluated. The second is in maximizing the class time in which the learners, rather than the teacher, do the work.
Regarding the first aspect, it is sometimes argued that most learners do not have the knowledge or experience to make informed decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and how to be assessed. However, the teacher is the boss, and it is the professional responsibility of the teacher to make these decisions. A countervailing view is that ultimately it is the learner who has to do the learning.
One possible solution for the teacher is to make most of the decisions at the beginning of the learning process. Then gradually, through a process of learner training, begin developing in the learners the skills they need in order to begin taking control o f their own learning processes.
In fact, it is not an “all or nothing” issue in which either the teacher or the learner makes all o f the decisions. In most classrooms it is somewhere in between, with teacher and students negotiating things such as when to submit assignments, whether to do a task in small groups or pairs, whether to do a reading task before a listening task or vice-versa, and so on. However, a teacher who is committed to this principle will look for opportunities to involve learners in becoming more reflective and in making more decisions about their own learning.