The Communicative Approach
to Language Teaching
What is the Communicative Approach?
Communicative language teaching (CLT), is a way of language teaching that emphasizes interaction as the means and the goal of study.
Language learners in environments utilizing CLT techniques, learn and practice the target language through the interaction with one another and the instructor.
Instructors teach topics outside of the realm of traditional grammar, in order to promote language skills in all types of situations.
According to CLT, the goal of language education is the ability to communicate in the target language. This is in contrast to previous views in which grammatical competence was commonly given top priority.
The Communicative Approach also focuses on the teacher being a facilitator, rather than an instructor. The ESA methodology—shown in the video below—is one of the latest iterations of CLT approach.
The Grammar Question
How much grammar do I need to know to teach English?
While English teachers need a good knowledge of grammar in order to explain the grammar “rules” to the students and answer their questions, grammar is not the ‘be all and end all’ of English teaching.
The best way to have students using the language is to communicate it (speaking and writing) by using the communicative approach to language teaching.
Vantage’s TEFL course is based around teaching topic-based lessons in which the grammar is used in context, not in isolation. That is, the topics provide a context for the language, and grammar is just one of the tools students need to talk (or write) about.
An example of a topic-based lesson would be Describing your Daily Routines, for which the Present Simple tense would be used, along with your daily routine activities. The video below will show you how a lesson can be done using CLT.
The Communicative Approach
The ESA Method
Many trainees (particularly candidates from native English-speaking countries) come to our TEFL course with only a rudimentary grasp of what the various grammar points are called, and why we use the language the way we do. We recognize this and assume trainees actually have a zero knowledge of grammar. This course will show you how to teach various grammar points to your students.
Having said that, no TEFL course teaches you everything about the language and about teaching. Rather, it gives you a solid foundation with which to start teaching. From there, you will learn more on-the-job.
It is said that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Once you’ve taught a particular grammar point two or three times, you’ll find that you’ve learned it yourself. Over a number of months, you’ll probably find that you’ve become quite the ‘grammar queen’ and be pleasantly surprised and how much you’ve picked up
Some trainees have asked us about Vantage course tests. Yes, there is a grammar section where you will be tested. However, the grammar test counts for only 3.5% of the total course grade. It’s also an open-book test so if you can’t remember something, you can look it up.
The reason we take such a relaxed view of a standard multiple-choice test is that this is not the best way to assess skills-based training. A written test assesses what you have learned, not what you can do.
The best way to assess skills-based training is to have the trainees use those skills in a real setting. As such, the bulk of the course grade (60%) goes on the practicum—the six observed teaching practices of real students in a live classroom.
So try not to get too distracted or worried by the grammar aspect of teaching English.
Vantage’s approach is to focus on the teaching skills embedded in the communicative approach—what you’ll actually use in the classroom—as that’s what’s really important and what you’ll need as your start successfully teaching.
Where New Teachers Are Born
Vantage candidates undergo a minimum of 6 hours of observed teaching practice. Called “The Practicum,” you will teach real non-English speaking students in a live classroom—and get valuable feedback from our professional trainers..
The practicum is where knowledge becomes teaching skills.
The practicum is the heart and soul of a professional TEFL certification program and it's one of most valued parts of the course. It’s also why many schools—particular the better ones—won’t accept a TEFL without a practicum.
Learn how Vantage’s practicum works.
The Communicative Approach Introduced to Thailand
A new way of teaching English already showing results.
The British Council and the Ministry of Education have teamed up to improve the skills of 17,000 primary and secondary English Thai teachers in Thailand through the Regional English Training Centres (RETC) project, which was started in 2015.
17,000 out of 40,000 of Thailand’s English teachers have been trained so far the results are overwhelmingly positive.
The research clearly indicates that 90% or 15,300 English teachers have more confidence in teaching English in the communicative approach and more confidence in using English in their classrooms.
The Nation newspaper published a great read of the RETC late last year.
Results on the Infograph as of October 2018
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