The Communicative learning approach The Communicative learning approach for


The Communicative learning approach for language learning is based on a student lead learning principle. The method focuses more on allowing the student to learn in real life situations, rather than in a teacher-dictated traditional classroom setting. CLT is uses student based curriculums that are based on the needs of students. CLT focuses more on learning communication in the second language than on learning grammar and writing, although grammar and writing are still important. Students will often participate in group activities where other students can help them with understanding. Skills are also integrated into the lesson so that reading, writing, speaking and listening are all being developed at the same time.

English for a Special Purpose (ESP) and Total Physical Response (TPR) are both methods that can be used very effectively within CLT. ESP is generally very beneficial for adult students whose language needs are evident, as they are already in contexts such as a job where they need to know specific things in English.

ESP has developed out of the school of thought that all teaching and instruction should be student based and specific to the needs and socio-cultural context which they belong to. ESP is used mostly with adult learners who are most aware of their English language needs. An example of an ESP class would be a class in business English that a company may sponsor for its workers in order for them to learn English, which they will need on the job. Many classes such as a business English class are becoming known as VESL (vocational English as a Second Language) or EOP (English for Occupational Purposes)in English speaking countries.

The communicative aspect of language is exactly what adult students need, and content learning would provide the best results, because the student can leave class and immediately begin to apply what he has just learned. Language learning on subject matter material such as 'salary and pay,' 'what to do at the bank,' and 'how to make a resume' can all be taught through ESP and CLT. The main characteristics of ESP are 1)relevance to the learner, 2) focus on the learner's needs, 3) relation to content, 4) centrality of the appropriate language level in its activities. Many instructors also argue that ESP is more effective and cost efficient than general English courses because it is more focused and narrow.

TPR is also effective in CLT. Attaching a physical tag to the subjects that are being taught can help students remember what they are learning. Since CLT emphasized communicating in the second language, ESP may be used in instances where students are asked to make a dramatization of what they have learned. Acting out situations is a great way for students to learn in the CLT approach. Students will also learn actions to pair with words that they are learning in the second language. In contrast to ESP, TPR is mostly used in great extent with young learners who are more open to the 'sillyness' of applying a physical gesture to the English that they are learning.

Sources: Celce- Murcia, Marianne. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. 3rd Edition. Thomas ETL, 2001.

Gatehouse, Kristen. 'Key issues in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Curriculum Development.' The Internet TESL Journal. Vol. VII, No. 10, October 2001. Available at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Gatehouse-ESP.html. Accessed August 5, 2006.

Peregory, Suzanne and Boyle, Owen. Reading, Writing, and Learning in ESL: A Resource Book for K- 12 Teachers. 4th Edition. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2004.