Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Evaluating Instructional Efficacy of Communicative Language Teaching: The Case of High Schools in Isfahan

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Evaluating Instructional Efficacy of Communicative Language Teaching: The Case of High Schools in Isfahan

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

The very primary goal of any foreign language teaching is enabling learners to communicate through that language, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) has become one of the most wildly used methods in EFL contexts around the world (Richards & Renandya, 2002). In recent decades, EFL teachers in many countries, including Iran, have been encouraged to substitute CLT for traditional teaching methods (i.e. Grammar translation and Audio-Lingual methods) in their English classrooms. Consequently, EFL teachers have implemented CLT in both schools and English institutes to help learners improve their communicative abilities to use English appropriately for their communicative aims including making a request, making a promise, giving advice, making a suggestion, extending an invitation (Chang, 2011). As a result, learning a foreign language may be evaluated based on how successful EFL learners can use linguistic competence as well as the communicative competence to convey their intended meaning in real contexts (Ansarey, 2012; Larsen-Freeman, 2003).

The fulfillment of CLT in EFL contexts rely heavily on the implementation of CLT principles in the classroom settings (Razmjoo & Riazi, 2006). That is, applying CLT principles in practice (i.e. focus on learner's role as an active person in learning process, concern teacher's role as a facilitator, use of collaborative activities, and benefit from classroom activities relevant to communicative competence as well as linguistic competence) plays a prominent role in teaching or learning process (Razmjoo & Riazi, 2006; Richards & Rodgers, 2001).

Teachers' attitude towards CLT influence their decisions to implement the CLT principles in their classrooms inspiring them achieve their goals by adopting the most appropriate teaching strategies and activities based on the facilities and opportunities available to them (Razmjoo & Riazi, 2006). The role of teachers is more vital in an EFL context, where English is used only in the classrooms and learners have very few opportunities to use the language in real situations. Inevitably, it would be a demanding task for EFL teachers to help learners enhance their communicative competence owing to the apparent lack of English environment in EFL settings and the other probable limitations. In this regard, EFL teachers' attitude towards CLT can be considered as a powerful factor towards implementation of CLT in classroom settings (Razmjoo & Riazi, 2006). Moreover, most of the researchers on the issue concluded that student's attitude is an integral part of learning and it should, therefore, become an essential component of second language learning process. Gardner and Lambert (1972), for instance, stated that the ability of the students to master a foreign language, which enables them to communicate effectively, is not only influenced by their linguistic competence, but also by their attitude towards the target language. They also advocated that attitude could enhance the process of language learning influencing the nature of student's cognition towards the target language community and its culture which has a significant effect on their perception and outcomes.

Considering the widespread implementation of CLT in high schools in Iran and the significant role of teachers and learners in this fulfilment, the main purpose of the current study was, firstly, to compare teachers' and students' attitudes towards the CLT principles in junior high schools in Isfahan, Iran. Secondly, the present study sought to examine the extent to which Iranian high school teachers implement the CLT principles practice in their classrooms.

2.Literature Review

The term communicative competence was first proposed by Hymes (1972) as "the overall underlying knowledge and ability for language which the speaker-listener possesses" (Hymes, 1972, p. 13, as cited in Mondal, 2012). Based on the Hymes' (1972) definition, communicative competence is a complex notion that involves knowledge of linguistic rules as well as sociocultural knowledge which enable language learners to use language structures appropriately in different contexts. …

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