'Language is used to achieve a communicative purpose.' - Widdowson
Language is a means of communication. Mere mastering of structures would not be helpful to communicate. In the words of Keith Johnson the Structural Approach makes the learner 'structurally competent but communicatively incompetent.'
The Structural Approach helps the child to receive a strong foundation in grammar and rules of language. But language is not structural alone it is functional also. If the user of a language has only the knowledge of language rules and form, then he is said to have 'linguistic competence' and if he also has the knowledge that enable him to communicate functionally and interactively, then he is said to have 'communicative competence'.
The goal of language teaching is therefore to develop 'Communicative competence'. The term Communicative competence was coined by Dell Hymes, an American Anthropologist. This was developed in contrast to Chomsky's theory of 'competence' which emphasises on the mastery of grammatical rules. In Hymes view a person who acquires Communicative
competence acquires both knowledge and ability for language use. According to Cannale and Swain there are four dimensions of
Dimensions of Communicative Competence
Grammatical Competence : the ability to use grammar, syntax, vocabulary
Socio-linguistic Competence : the ability to use right and appropriate words according to the topic/ setting
Discourse Competence : the ability to participate effectively in speeches/ conversations
Strategic Competence : the ability to solve communication problem
So it is clear from the above diagram that Communicative competence is an ability not only applies to the grammatical rules of a
language in order to form grammatically correct sentences but also to know when and where to use these sentences and to whom.
Chief Characteristic Features of Communicative Approach or Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)
1. Goal/ Aim: The goal of Language Teaching is to develop Communicative Competence among the learners. This implies both
syntactic and semantic use of language.
2. Prime Focus on the Learner: The CLT approach focuses on the learner. Learner is the pivot here as it is learner centred. It takes
into account the priorities of the learner . The learner is constantly faced with the problems of how to learn English and chooses his own route to the solution. He learns by discovery.
3. Syllabus: CLT often uses a functional notional syllabus. The model syllabus was first proposed by Wilkins in 1976. He called it
a Notional Syllabus. The syllabus of CLT gives priority to the students' interests. Its interest is on how language is used for
communication. The Functional-Notional categories may be like greeting, introducing people, expressing joy, extending and
accepting invitations, making appointments, agreeing and disagreeing making apologies, giving suggestions etc.
4. Teacher's Role: Communicative Language teaching is task based. This means the teacher gives many tasks to the students in
the process of language learning. The teacher acts as a facilitator.
He is the manager of the class room. He creates umpteen situations that are likely to promote communication. During these activities
the teacher acts as an advisor answering students' questions and monitoring their performance. At other times he might be a Co-
Communicator (little wood).
5. Class room Activities/ Tasks: In CLT numerous exercises can be executed. Class room activities are designed to focus on completing tasks. Information gap activities, Role Play, Interview, Pair work are some of the activities used in the process of language learning. The following are some tasks which generate language:
a) making requests for something.
b) making a phone call.
c) inviting somebody's attention.
d) greeting and introducing the people.
e) booking a room in a hotel or guest house.
f) making a reservation of the railway ticket.
6. Use of Mother Tongue: Careful use of Mother Tongue or translation is allowed in this approach. The use of mother tongue altogether can not be banished as in the Direct method. Judicious use of mother
tongue or LI will ensure effective use and learning of the target language.
7. View of errors: Errors among the learners are tolerated and treated as natural in the development of language. Trial and Error
method is followed here because language is created by the learner
through trial and error. There is no stress on rules of grammar or syntax initially.
8. Testing: Testing the learner's knowledge or the text is not the
goal; testing the learner's ability to use the language is crucial in this approach.
Advantages : 1. Student's inhibition is driven out. Student feels encouraged.
2. This approach envisages more practical type of learning the language.
3. Students acquire fluency, accuracy and appropriacy in the use of
Limitations : 1.Communicative approach needs specially trained and
skilled teachers to teach english. An average teacher finds it difficult to use this approach.
2. It is quite unmanageable to organise group activities and pair work in the over crowded classes.
3. It is some what difficult to evaluate language competence of a student when the learner is involved in the problem solving task.
1. Developing Communicative competence is the prime goal of CLT.
2. The term Communicative competence was coined by Dell Hymes
3. Learner is the pivot and this approach is known as learner centred approach.
4. The Language material whatever useful to learners is the syllabus of this approach. The first model syllabus known as notional syllabus was proposed by Wilkins.
5. In communicative language teaching teacher is the facilitator. He creates an environment feasible for language learning.
6. Information gap activities, role plays, life based exercises are the tools for language generation.
7. Errors made by the learners in the course of learning are tolerated.
8. Fluency, accuracy and appropriacy in the use of language are the chief tenets of this approach.
9. Judicious use of mother tongue is allowed.
1. The term 'Communicative competence' was coined by -
1) Wilkins 2) Chomsky 3) Hymes 4) Hornby
2. CLT Approach emphasises on learning by -
1) imitation 2) repetition 3) use 4) playing
3. Identify the correct statement.
1) large strength class is not feasible for CLT approach
2) Structures are presented and practiced rigorously
3) Translation is used extensively
4) All are correct statements.
4. Which of the following is significant in CLT approach?
1) Fluency 2) Accuracy 3) Appropriacy 4) all
5. Notional syllabus was proposed by .......
1) Halliday 2) Wilkins 3) Hymes 4) Chomsky
ANSWERS:1)3 2)3 3)1 4)4 5)2.