THE COMMUNICATIVE APPROACH TO LANGUAGE TEACHING
Any language can be acquired if one develops four basic skills in that language i.e. listening, speaking, reading and writing. Listening and speaking are interactive processes that directly affect each other. Speaking is an expressive language skill in which the speaker uses verbal symbols to communicate, while listening is a receptive language skill, which involves the interpretation of those symbols into meaning. Writing is also expressive language skill in which the writer uses written symbols to communicate, while reading is a receptive language skill which involves the interpretation of those symbols into meaning.
Listening and speaking and also reading and writing were viewed as a separate subjects within the school curriculum and usually were taught as a number of discrete skills; however, the 1980s and early 1990s have brought another perceptive. Listening and speaking and also reading and writing are now considered interactive and taught as one communicative process. Interactive process of reading and writing skill, seen in the class, is very less. One can find more interactive process of listening and speaking skill in any type of class. ‘Machure M' in his book named as ‘Oracy-current trends in Context' (1988) termed this process as ‘oracy' means ‘oral communication' or ‘oral language'. It includes both listening and speaking.
THE TERM : THE COMMUNICATIVE APPROACH -:
Willbrand M. L. & Riecke R.D. in their book named as ‘Teaching oral communication in Elementary schools' (1983) defined ‘Oral Communication' as the process of interacting through heard and spoken messages in a variety of situations. And instruction which integrates the teaching of listening and speaking over various situations has been termed "the communicative approach to language teaching."
The communicative approach is relative new, as most of the teachers and prescribed texts separate the instruction of listening and speaking. Usually when listening and speaking are separated, specific skills are identified in each area and a sequence of these skills is established. No particular attention is given to the situation, or context, in which a specific skill is to be used, as the focus is on teaching listening and speaking and not on communication. We can develop listening skill by conducting the entire lesson in that language only. We may make use of Audio-Visual aids such as tape-recorder, gramophone etc. we may make the students to listen to Radio lessons to develop the skill. Moreover we may develop the listening skill by ear-training exercises, by articulation exercises, by mimicry exercises or by exercises in fluency. We may develop the speaking skill by giving picture lessons, by saying and doing exercises, by arranging oral composition, by developing the ideas on the topic within their range, by reproducing telling or completing a story, by dramatization, by arranging talks and discussions, by asking questions. But special attention is not given to the situation or context, in which a specific skill, listening or speaking, is to be used. When specific attention is given on a situation or a context and develop these skills we follow communicative approach.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE COMMUNICATIVE APPROACH
Although no single methodology has been described for the communicative approach, several characteristics are summarized as follow. -
Communicative approach stimulate ‘real life' communicative experiences -:
Froese V in his book named as ‘Introduction to whole language teaching and learning' (1991) mentioned this characteristics of communicative approach. Learners should conduct an interview because they actually need information. In role playing process, the purpose is to learn how to formulate appropriate questions. But here, as Froese V noted these activities should not only stimulate real life experiences but, whenever possible, should actually be real life experiences.
The learning task is content-based, theme-based, project-based or some combination of the three -:
Instruction in listening and speaking, as well as reading and writing, is given within the context of handling various learning tasks, which involve learners with language. This learning task is content based according to Early M & Tang M as described in their book named as Helping ESL students cope with content -based text (1991), ‘theme-based' according to Candling C & Edelhoff C as described in their book Challenges (1982) and ‘project based' according to Fried-Booth D as described in the book ‘Project Work' (1986). Within the context of an interview, questioning skills can be taught. Students need the opportunity to express themselves through a variety of experiences and tasks.
Analysis of language is done in specific contexts -:
Language drills, recitation and isolation grammar exercises are not the ways to acquire any language. Analysis of language is done in specific contexts. Decontextualized language is not used as a basis for skill instruction.
The focus is not upon listening and speaking but upon using language to communicate and to learn -:
As students use language to learn in various subject areas, it becomes necessary for them to communicate with peers in large and small groups as well as with the teacher. Collaborative talk can occur between peers in quite an informal way or in more formal cooperative learning groups.
Listening and speaking skills as vehicles for learning across all subjects areas -:
Barnes D in his book named as ‘Oral language and learning' (1990) described that listening and speaking become valuable not only as isolated skills or groups of skills, but as vehicles for learning across all subject areas. Oral communication should be integrated with other areas of instruction.