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If person wants to learn something new, first of all, he should decide seriously for himself does he need the new knowledge, and how he might use it in the everyday life. This is what should be the first step to appear in person's head before starting a new cycle of studying. But bare intensions are not enough. Basically all people need to get help and support from the others who possess the knowledge, which a person only dreams about. So he has to find a good teacher.
And then it is teacher's turn to decide, what he can do for his new student. First of all, he needs to choose in which way he can transfer the knowledge to the student, and the chosen method must be the most effective one.
There exists such an idea, that each person perceives new information faster and easier, if the best approach is found for him. It is a very delicate part of the whole process. Language is something special if to compare with other subjects. You need to become a completely different person, in other words -to dip in the specific culture, to change the speech apparatus, to think like you are of a different origin. It is a sort of a play, and methods are very different.
There are comparatively new methods appearing, like CLT (Communicative Language Teaching), for instance. This method, or some prefer to call it an approach, is not very old; however, it wasn't introduced just yesterday too.
Opinions of CLT are either positive or negative, but it still continuous being used by many studying institutions as well as in Latvian University.
The goal of the present research was to investigate how students and teachers feel when using Communicative Language Teaching and what sort of difficulties they challenge in a process.
The enabling objectives of the present research are as follows:
to read the theory on CLT method;
to analyse the information of the CLT method;
to implement the necessary research activities (filling in the questionnaire);
to draw the relevant conclusions.
The hypothesis of the present work was formulated in accordance with the goal.
Moreover, the research is conducted to provide that the CLT approach cannot always be considered as the perfect option for language students.
During the investigation of the present theme the following methods were used:
Theoretical method (reading and analysing the theory of the Communicative Language Teaching);
Practical method (distributing the questionnaire to the students of the second course of English Philology, LU to find out their views on the CLT method).
Environment of the present research: The University of Latvia, Faculty of Humanities, department of English Studies.
Outline of chapters:
The first chapter is basically about the good CLT points and its advantages. It also introduces CLT method to those who have never heard of it.
In the second chapter, some information about the main difficulties and challenges of CLT method is given.
ON THE ONE HAND
As it was previously mentioned, the CLT is comparatively new method which was spread in 1970s. (Online 1) The basic reason for its appearance was the feeling of some teachers that the old methods are somewhat unnatural or out of date. In other words, students were taught such a live and delicate thing like a language in the artificial manner. They realised that they should change the situation for more natural and free. This, in fact meant another experiment. When they tried another way of teaching their students, they found out that it works and decided to spread it all over the world.
This method was not a slight deviation from the standard methods; it was a real challenge to them. Because the newly made method consisted of everything that did not existed in the former way of spoken language teaching.
First of all, CLT means freedom for those who are studying; and also less stressful atmosphere, which is very attractive both for teachers and for the students. This approach transforms a usual lesson to good and stress free time spending. Students can participate equally in all exercises, not waiting for every turn of them to speak. Each person is welcome to express his thoughts and ideas. The more you speak the more you practise.
It is especially great, when the new class is formed and people are not well acquainted one with another. So the CLT method becomes a great possibility to learn something new about your partner or partners through conversational tasks, as well as to develop the communicative skills and to increase self-confidence.
The basic novelty consists of an opportunity to act freely during the class performance, or even to become another person by taking a pseudonym. When person knows that it's just a game he may act more bravely to his partners and to dream a lot. Moreover, usually the tasks are based on real life situations, so that students could imagine themselves talking to a native speaker, thus use all their potentials in the conversation with a stranger or an imaginary friend. And who knows, maybe this or that group work will prepare a student for the real life situations, when he could apply his experience.
Any initiative is welcome in the CLT method. Teachers do not ask their student to speak without a single mistake, vice versa; they want to see the process of free speech and the intentions of a student to bring out the meaning so that the others can understand a general sense.
ON THE OTHER HAND
So on the one hand, CLT is a new step towards modern image of language studying, on the other hand, it concedes to the former way of teaching where the requirements were far stricter and the results were worthy. At those times students learned or sometimes even drilled new things, which an average person cannot memorise after a couple of brief conversations.
This is a curious case, because today students cannot compare old and new methods. In other words, they have no choice, therefore they should get maximum of the method their teacher uses. It is also important that a teacher could freely operate with the new structure of the lesson when all students work at themselves. But a teacher usually only observes and corrects without much interfering. If previously the most part of the lesson was occupied by a teacher's explanations and corrections, then now it is full of students' voices and negotiations. So it is quite a loud lesson usually. Of course, sometimes students cannot come to a compromise, which makes it difficult to work afterwards. CLT is, definitely, not for the young students who sometimes are not taught how to hold themselves, how to develop a conversation with all manners and etiquette.
If CLT is good for western countries or European countries, then not necessarily it would be an appropriate approach to the eastern students, because they are more reserved, and not used to chat a lot. Not all students are able to participate equally in the class activities. Or sometimes what is worse, some students may pretend that they participate, and act so that a teacher won't notice his disinterest. In the case of avoiding participation of some students, it is clear that CLT is not meant for them to achieve good results.
Some people, both students and teachers, consider this method over relaxed, because there is no intensive grammar work. They believe that they can do the same things when they are not at school, for instance, to have a good conversation with group mates or friends. But during classes exactly a teacher should demonstrate all his knowledge, skills, and good examples and share his own rich experience. All these would not give students an opportunity just to mark time when they work together but to learn new rules words and other things which they even did not suspected or heard of.
In the questionnaire everything looks quite obviously. Fourteen students of twenty (14/20) would prefer the modern method, where all people can work together in groups, and to share interesting ideas. However 6 of 20 prefer to work individually, considering it is more time worthy, as well as to be a good training, getting strong results and not only confidence training, but also responsibility developing.
CLT became something usual already; however it is not recognised by all specialists in the language teaching sphere. Many teachers still find it hard to use the CLT method in the class, because of having too different personalities among students.
Young people, if to look at the questionnaire results, are not against working together with a partner. Basically they like sharing opinions among the same age group, and afterwards present their views to a teacher together.
All this is good, however CLT's freedom make its users less responsible and not very concentrated, mainly, because, a portion of class work is divided for a group of people, which makes the situation easier. People are as if learning to be socially adequate, while should come to learn new things about the language.
Communicative Language Teaching: An Introduction and Sample Activities. Available from http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/gallow01.html [Accessed June 3, 2010]
Communicative Language Teaching -Disadvantages. Available from http://www.englishcafe.com/chatcafe/group-forum/communicative-language-teaching-disadvantages-32878 [Accessed June 3, 2010].
Communicative Language Teaching: Unity within Diversity. ELT Journal.