The communicative approach is based on the idea that learning language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning. When learners are involved in real communication, their natural strategies for language acquisition will be used, and this will allow them to learn to use the language.
Practising question forms by asking learners to find outpersonal information about their colleagues is an example of the communicative approach, as it involves meaningful communication.
In the classroom
Classroom activities guided by the communicative approach are characterised by trying to produce meaningful and real communication, at all levels. As a result there may be more emphasis on skills than systems, lessons are more learner-centred, andthere may be use of authentic materials.
The Communicative Approach
A. The Contributions of the Communicative Movement
1. Goal of Language Teaching: Communicative Competence that can best serve the needs of the learner.
Communicative Competence (Canale and Swain, 1980) |
Grammatical Competence(knowledge of lexical items and of rules of morphology, syntax, sentence- grammar semantics,and phonology) | Sociolinguistic Competence | Strategic Competence(verbal and non-verbal communi-
cation strategies that may be called
into action to compensate for break-
downs in communication due to
performance variables or to
insufficient competence) |
Competence(knowledge of the relation of language use to its non-linguistic context) | DiscourseCompetence(knowledge of rules governing cohesion and coherence) | |
2. A New Type of Syllabus: Notional/Functional Syllabus
A notional/function syllabus is one "in which the language content is arranged according to the meanings a learner needs to express through language and the functions the learner will use the language for... A notional syllabus contains (a) the meanings and concepts the learner needs inorder to communicate (eg time, quantity, duration, location) and the language needed to express them. These concepts and meanings are called notions. (b) the language needed to express different functions or speech acts (eg requesting, suggesting, promising, describing)." (Richards, Platt, and Weber, 1985, p. 196)
3. A New Category of Classroom Activities: Meaning Focused Activities
1)Information transfer -- is a type of communicative activity that involves the transfer of information from one medium (eg., text) to another (eg form, table, diagram). Such activities are intended to help develop the learner's communicative competence by engaging them in meaning-focused communication.
Example 1: Listen to the story and then add names to the family tree (explanations of the symbolsomitted).
I'd like to tell what I know about Ed and Mary's family. Ed and Mary first met at college. Both of them were 19 at the time and they started dating in their third year at college. They got married soon after they graduated from college. Two years after their marriage, their first child was born. It was a boy. They name him Frank. A year later, they had another child. This time, it was agirl. They asked Mary's parents to give her a name. They named her Judy. Frank and Judy grew up. They went to the same college their parents went to. Judy met her boyfriend Eric at college. Soon they decided to get married. Ed and Mary thought Judy was a bit too young, but Eric was such a nice young man, they thought it was all right. Soon, Judy and Eric had their first child. It is a son. Judyand Eric had a hard time naming their son. First they thought of Alexander. They both liked the name, but it seemed such a long name for such a little baby. They decided to ask Judy's parents for help...
2) Information Gap -- is a type of communicative activity in which each participant in the activity holds some information other participants don't have and all participants have to share the...