The last few post have been looking at various methods of teaching English. In this post, we will look at the following
- Communicative Language Teaching
- Task-based learning
- Lexical method
Communicative Language Teaching
The premise behind communicative language teaching (CLT) is that people need to learn the spoken functions of language as well as they learn the grammar. Therefore, students in this method focused on communicating as much as possible and learn the grammar of the language along the way. By doing this, students understand the language would happen naturally.
With CLT the focus is always on realistic communication. Role play and simulation are common techniques of the CLT method. For the most part, whatever replicates real communication falls under the CLT method. This has led to confusion in defining CLT as it is a vague method in terms of what it is.
There is some criticism of CLT. For example, it favors native-speakers who can teach in an improvised language environment. CLT is also difficult to use in context that are traditionally teacher-centered. Another concern is that students develop fluency in the language at the expense of accuracy in their understanding of the grammar.
In Task-based learning (TBL) students learn the language by performing various task. TBL has three steps.
- Pre-task–Introduction of the topic and task
- Task cycle–Students complete the task
- Language focus–Students analysis what they did and learn the language lesson
For example, the teacher explains the activity of the day and goes over necessary new vocabulary (pre-task). Next, students are given a bus schedule and they are asked to tell what time such and such bus arrives (task cycle). Lastly, the students complete the task and then the teacher explains whatever language was being used (language focus). This is a highly inductive form of learning. The belief is that if they complete the task then they will develop competency in the language.
Criticism of TBL is that the term is vague and involves common learning task. Another problem is that there is more to language than just completing task. Some even believe that focusing on a task while also learning the concepts of a language could overload a learner’s cognitive capacity.
The lexical method is based on the belief that language is not about grammar but multi-word pre-made chunks. Examples include Come on…?, I’ll try, You must be kidding?, may as well. If students learn these “chunks” they can make a whole string of sentences. Students learn how to use these phrases and thus learn the language.
The Lexical method has detractors like all other methods discussed. For one, no one has been able to prove how learning these short phrases actually helps in learning the language. It is like learning the phrases in a phrase book. You know the phrases without knowing the language.
Another concern is the lack of procedures for the Lexical method. A method without procedures is not much of a method. For many, this is method without support.
These methods here are among some of the most common teaching methods in language learning. Teachers and students need to see what is best among the myriad of choices when deciding on how learning will take place in their classroom.