Academic journal article International Education Studies

Creating a Communicative Language Teaching Environment for Improving Students' Communicative Competence at EFL/EAP University Level

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Creating a Communicative Language Teaching Environment for Improving Students' Communicative Competence at EFL/EAP University Level

Article excerpt


The present research focuses on teachers' perceptions and practices regarding Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) and its impact on communicative competency of the students. A questionnaire was used to collect the quantitative data from teachers. The results show that the EFL teachers are aware of the CLT characteristics, its implementation and impact on the communicative competence of the students. The results suggest that despite showing keen interest in change and being eager to implement CLT, they are not optimistic about the complete adoption of CLT due to the problems and challenges they face in the classroom, like overcrowded classes, non-availability of AV aids, students' low level of proficiency, time constraints, etc. They believe that only by overcoming the difficulties, and by establishing more favourable conditions for the implementation of CLT, they can truly benefit from CLT in their classrooms.

Keywords: communicative approach, communicative competence

1. Introduction

In response to grammar translation method and audio-lingual method, the British linguists introduced Communicative language teaching (CLT) in 1960s which became a dominant language teaching approach in 1970s. Initially designed for ESL context, CLT was applied in English speaking countries where English teachers supported a skill-based, discovery-oriented, collaborative approach to education (Holliday, 1994). A number of CLT based language courses and textbooks were introduced in second language learning (L2) with an emphasis to improve communicative competence of the learners. The purpose of CLT was to provide the learners with opportunities to learn and use the target language in L2 context. Therefore, the focus in language teaching shifted from drill-based language activities to communicative-based activities to provide a natural growth of language ability. CLT refers to both processes and goals in classroom learning. Identification of learners' communicative needs provided a base for curriculum design (Van Ek, 1975). According to Mey (1998), the basic principles of CLT include learner-oriented classroom, opportunities to develop a wide repository of activities, multiple role of the teachers, and use of authentic materials.

The pivotal concept in CLT is communicative competence, a term introduced in the early 1970s in language education (Savignon, 1972; Hymes, 1971; Habermas, 1970; Jakobovits, 1970). Hymes (1971) coined the term 'Communicative Competence' in contrast to Chomsky's concept of communicative view of language and competence. Chomsky discusses that the focus of linguistic theory is to characterize the abstract abilities of a speaker which enable them to produce grammatically correct sentences in a language whereas Hymes argues that the linguistic theory needed to be seen as part of a more general theory incorporating communication and culture. In Hymes' view theory of communicative competence is a definition of what a speaker needs to know in order to be communicatively competent in a speech community. Hymes (1972, p. 281) argues that both knowledge of a language and ability to use it is the communicative competence in terms of its formality, feasibility, appropriateness, context, and performance of the language act. So this concept contracts with Chomsky's competence based on abstract grammatical knowledge. Communicative language teaching is defined as an approach to foreign or second language teaching which aims to develop communicative competence (Richards, J. Platt, & H. Platt, 1992).

Realizing the importance of English as a lingua franca and a language of science and technology for the last few years, the scenario of English language teaching and learning has been changing at an international level. In the Saudi Arabian context, English has been embraced as one of the key languages of the educational planning and now English has been made as a compulsory subject from elementary level to university level. …

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