Applied Linguistics

What is communicative language teaching/activities/definition

Communicative Language Teaching

The origins of the Communicative approach originate in the changes in the teaching of languages ​​in Great Britain from the end of the sixties, this due to the doubt that Noam Chomsky put about the methods of structural linguistic theory. It was considered necessary for language teaching to focus more on communicative competence than on simple knowledge of structures. Two scholars who defended the previous ideology were Christopher Candlin and Henry Widdowson. Another factor that was influencing the change in language teaching was the change in educational realities in Europe (interdependence between European countries). What is communicative language teaching?

The communicative approach is concerned with both the functional and structural aspects of the language, communicative teaching affirms that the language is acquired through communication, moderate use of the mother tongue is accepted when necessary, the rules are not presented grammar and there is no imposed classroom organization. Some materials that can be used in this approach are textbooks, materials to practice communication, pair communication and interaction, games, authentic materials such as magazines, advertisements, maps, etc.

The role of the teacher is not to correct or correct the students very little within a context, to facilitate the process of communication between all the participants and the different activities and texts, organizer of resources being himself a resource, guide in the procedures and activities of the class, researcher, needs analyst, counselor, and manager of the group process.

The role of the student is as a negotiator within the group, the classroom procedures, and the activities that are carried out together. He also learns in an interdependent way, so the student interacts more with his classmates than with the teacher.

Explanation What is communicative language teaching?

It is based on the proposal of the notional-functional programs made by the Council of Europe. The said proposal starts from the fact that the role of the student in the learning process should be reassessed; For this reason, the contents should be useful to you. Thus, an approach by communicative functions is proposed, in which grammatical function and structure are conceived as interwoven elements in concrete realizations of the language, not as independent components one from the other. This makes it necessary to systematize the contents and propose parameters for evaluating the competence of the learners. The teaching, curriculum design, and evaluation dimensions are also integrated into the proposal.

        His antecedents were in the United States with Noam Chomsky who postulated the following:

  • Language is an innate device for language acquisition (language organ).
  • There is a transformational generative grammar that provides a set of rules or principles that correctly predict the combinations that appear in grammatically correct sentences for a given language.
  • He introduced the concept of “linguistic competence” (knowledge that one had of the language).
  • It supposes an abstraction and idealization, which does not have a direct relationship with the ability and ability to use one or more languages ​​in interpersonal communication.

       Also in the United States, Dell Hymes (later contributions by Michael Canale, Merril Swain) coined the term “communicative competence”: What the speaker needs to communicate appropriately within a specific speech community and how they acquire new knowledge and skills to interact with speakers of the target language. This author seeks to understand languages ​​in context. It includes the rules of use to which it refers. It includes the referential and social meaning of language, and not only refers to the grammaticality of the sentences, but also to whether or not they are appropriate in the context. What is communicative language teaching?

        Later, in England, John Rupert Firth motivated the understanding of the language as a doing in a specific context, therefore the attention began to focus on the ability of the users of a language to associate sentences with the contexts in which said sentences are appropriate and David Wilkins carried out work for the definition of linguistic functions (language functions) from the analysis of meaning systems (words, gestures, signs, etc.).

        According to the Cervantes Institute, in its “Dictionary of key terms of ELE”, the Communicative Method is defined as:

        “The communicative approach is also known as communicative language teaching, as a notional-functional approach or as a functional approach. From its nickname it follows that this didactic model it is intended to train the learner for real communication with other SL speakers; for this purpose, authentic materials are used and activities are carried out that try to faithfully imitate the reality outside the classroom. “

Teacher’s role 

It is your responsibility to organize all the activities, observe the development and advise during them. In addition, it must promote the climate for cooperation and interaction between the participants. You must create communication situations, develop materials and often participate as another student.

The textbook constitutes material support, but not the axis of the teaching activity. Other types of teaching materials are also used, as far as possible authentic, for a better and faster acquisition of the language, such as magazines, tourist brochures and technological material such as audios, videos, journalistic material, etc., adapted to the needs of the students for their communicative realization within the sociocultural codes.

Student’s role. What is communicative language teaching?

Theatrical or role-playing games are widely used, where the participants receive feedback from their peers and, based on this, the success of the communication is measured. Games are also used as elements that have a beneficial effect on communication, in addition to promoting communicative competence. The student is the one who decides what to say and how to say it during the activities (freedom of expression) What is communicative language teaching?

This is a horizontal teaching method. That is to say, centered on the student and adapted to their needs. They are the true protagonists of the lesson. The interaction of oral, socialization, and cooperation among students is very common: in pairs, trios, in larger groups, or among the whole class.

Presence of grammar

The presentation of the grammar is usually inductive, although some brief grammar explanations are also given when appropriate.

ACTIVITIES – COMMUNICATIVE METHOD What is communicative language teaching?

 Theme: Food Recipes

Level: A2

General objective:

  • Explain step by step the procedure for preparing a cooking recipe.

 Specific objectives:

  • Investigate typical dishes in Latin American cuisine.
  • Give instructions for a procedure using the Imperative mode structure.


1- The teacher presents to the class a recipe for this dish using each step with verbs in Imperative mode. It can be presented through a video or photographs accompanied by the steps of the recipe.

2- The students are given the recipe step by step to follow the instructions. They should also identify what the actions are in each step or the verbs in the imperative mood.

3- In pairs, students will have to search and investigate a simple and quick Latin American food recipe, with a few steps, to develop it in class. Once the recipe is found, they will write it by changing the verbs in Imperative mode. They can even add photos. What is communicative language teaching?

4- The recipe will be presented and explained in a class by each couple.

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