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What are some examples of communicative exercises? How do the roles of the teacher and student change in Communicative language teaching? This article refers to the way teachers can focus the teaching of the foreign language in the classroom in such a way that students can communicate in a conscious way, taking into account their real experiences. Here, the origin of the Communicative Approach as a combination of different methods is clearly explained, as such as the role of the teacher and the students in a communicative English as a Second Language class. This digest will take a look at the communicative approach to the teaching of foreign languages. It is intended as an introduction to the communicative approach for teachers and teachers-in-training who want to provide opportunities in the classroom for their students to engage in real-life communication in the target language. WHERE DOES COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING COME FROM?
Its origins are many, insofar as one teaching methodology tends to influence the next. The communicative approach could be said to be the product of educators and linguists who had grown dissatisfied with the audiolingual and grammar-translation methods of foreign language instruction. They felt that students were not learning enough realistic, whole language. In the intervening years, the communicative approach has been adapted to the elementary, middle, secondary, and post-secondary levels, and the underlying philosophy has spawned different teaching methods known under a variety of names, including notional-functional, teaching for proficiency, proficiency-based instruction, and communicative language teaching. Communicative language teaching makes use of real-life situations that necessitate communication. The teacher sets up a situation that students are likely to encounter in real life. Unlike the audiolingual method of language teaching, which relies on repetition and drills, the communicative approach can leave students in suspense as to the outcome of a class exercise, which will vary according to their reactions and responses.
The real-life simulations change from day to day. WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF COMMUNICATIVE EXERCISES? In a communicative classroom for beginners, the teacher might begin by passing out cards, each with a different name printed on it. The teacher then proceeds to model an exchange of introductions in the target language: “Guten Tag.
Using a combination of the target language and gestures, the teacher conveys the task at hand, and gets the students to introduce themselves and ask their classmates for information. Later during the class, as a reinforcement listening exercise, the students might hear a recorded exchange between two German freshmen meeting each other for the first time at the gymnasium doors. Then the teacher might explain, in English, the differences among German greetings in various social situations. Finally, the teacher will explain some of the grammar points and structures used. The following exercise is taken from a 1987 workshop on communicative foreign language teaching, given for Delaware language teachers by Karen Willetts and Lynn Thompson of the Center for Applied Linguistics.
The exercise, called “Eavesdropping,” is aimed at advanced students. Instructions to students” Listen to a conversation somewhere in a public place and be prepared to answer, in the target language, some general questions about what was said. Where were they when you eavesdropped? Did they become aware that you were listening to them? The exercise puts students in a real-world listening situation where they must report information overheard. Most likely they have an opinion of the topic, and a class discussion could follow, in the target language, about their experiences and viewpoints.
Communicative exercises such as this motivate the students by treating topics of their choice, at an appropriately challenging level. Another exercise taken from the same source is for beginning students of Spanish. In “Listening for the Gist,” students are placed in an everyday situation where they must listen to an authentic text. Students listen to a passage to get general understanding of the topic or message. Have students listen to the following announcement to decide what the speaker is promoting. The announcement can be read by the teacher or played on tape. Source: Adapted from Ontario Assessment Instrument Pool, 1980, Item No.
Gunter Gerngross, an English teacher in Austria, gives an example of how he makes his lessons more communicative. He cites a widely used textbook that shows English children having a pet show. The observation by Gerngross on the role of the teacher as one of listener rather than speaker brings up several points to be discussed in the next portion of this digest. The teacher sets up the exercise, but because the students’ performance is the goal, the teacher must step back and observe, sometimes acting as referee or monitor.