Language A System Of Communication English Language Essay

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A language is a system of communication by using sounds or conventional symbols. It is through language that we are able to express ourselves and communicate to others. Everyone knows the importance of English Language in today's world as it is an international language. At present time as the world has turned into a global village, so we cannot deny the importance of English Language. As English is a global language, it enables us to communicate with people belonging to different cultures. Most of the researches in different fields of life e.g. medicine, education, economy, e-commerce and aviation etc are done in English Language. It is also the language used in tourism. These reasons become a source of motivation for people to learn this language. The knowledge of English Language is vital if a person wants to access electronic information available on the internet. In addition, English is also a requirement in most government and private jobs.

The use of English Language provides many prospects in the social and financial world. Greddol (1997) specifies the uses of English Language in different fields of life:

English is the working language of international organizations and conferences.

English is used in the fields of science and technology.

It is used in international banking, economic affairs and commerce.

Advertising for global brands is done in English.

English is the language of audio visual and cultural products.

It is the language of international tourism.

It is the language of higher education.

English is the language of international law.

It is a relay language in interpretation and translation.

It is the language of technology transfer.

It is the language of internet communication.

Importance of English Language in Pakistan

English Language has a lot of importance in Pakistan. It is our official language. It is used in civil administration. It is the language of the constitution and of the legal system. It is also used in media. English is also used in international trade and commerce in Pakistan. It is used in the stock exchange as well. All the information available on the internet is in English. All the modern scientific researches and books available on them are in English.

English is taught as a compulsory subject from nursery and Kindergarten levels. English is the medium of instruction in the English medium schools of the country. It is also the main cause of failure of students because it is not our first language but it is taught as a compulsory subject. This shows the role and importance of English in Pakistan. It has become important for every student to learn English as its importance is growing day by day. We cannot survive in the economic world without the tool of English language.

Aims of Learning a Language

Coleman (1996) stated most popular reasons for learning modern languages among the students as 'for future career', 'because I like the language', 'to travel in different countries', 'to have a better understanding of way of the life in a country or countries where it is spoken', 'because I would like to live in a country where it is spoken' etc.

Cook (2002) made a list of the aims for which a second language is learnt:

Self-development

A method of training new cognitive process

A way-in to mother tongue

An entrée to another culture

A means of communication

Self -development

Some people learn the second language for their self-development. They think that they will do their self-development by learning a second language and will become a better person.

A method of training new cognitive process

When people learn new language, they learn about themselves and their societies from new perspectives.

A way-in to the mother tongue

If people learn a second language, in fact, they make clear the concept of their first language. We can say that they learn their first language with the help of second language.

An entrée to another culture

People also learn another language because they also want to know about the country where it is spoken. They want to have the knowledge of art, literature, music and culture of that country.

A means of communication

Some people learn another language in order to be able to communicate with the people who speak that language.

The above mentioned goals of learning a second language can be classified into two main groups i.e. internal and external goals (Cook, 1938).

External goals. External goals relate to the learning of language for the use of language outside the classroom. For example, for traveling a country, reading literature, communicating native speakers, to gain education from foreign country, traveling shops, markets etc.

Internal goals. Internal goals refer to the students' mental and self-development as individuals. They may think from different perspective about themselves and their societies. Through the last century, external goals have been dominating the internal goals.

English Language Teaching (ELT) in Pakistan

English plays a very important role in Pakistan as lingua franca. English is taught in a very strange manner in the country. Students belonging to rural backgrounds and even other students are taught English in schools and colleges but they are still not able to communicate in English comfortably and confidently. One of the reasons behind this is that our educational system is not aware that they should focus on all the four skills of the language. Only the skills of reading and writing are focused, while the skills of listening and speaking are neglected. The students do not get the required input. The students can never speak the language because they do not listen to it. Our teachers teach English language through translation. They translate everything in Urdu. In this way the students are not motivated to learn it.

The teachers speak Urdu in English classes. If the students find anything difficult to understand, the teacher will instantly translate it in Urdu instead of explaining it in English. This is the situation in government sector schools. The condition is different in private schools. This wide gap between government and private schools is not healthy for a developing nation. Private schools are also giving importance to the two neglected skills of listening and speaking. Creativity is promoted and students are motivated to speak in English even outside their classes. It is very important for a teacher to know the process of language learning. It is the duty of the teacher to bring different activities in the class to develop a healthy environment in the class which promotes language learning. Our teachers of the government sector focus on accuracy and the students are supposed to memorize the language. In this way, the students do not feel comfortable to communicate in English.

Siddiqui (2002) stated that the significant position of English in subcontinent it due to its colonial past. During that period, this language promoted due to its privileged status and it was the official language. Learning English language was a key to get a job and enjoy the privileges from the government. But some fundamentalists Muslims refused to acquire this language because they wanted to hold strongly their own language i.e. Urdu. They believed that acquiring English language will be the sign of their salvation. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan took initiative considering the importance of learning English language. He started some educational movements throughout the subcontinent which brought a revolution in the economic status of Muslims.

After the independence of Pakistan, Urdu was declared as the national language of Pakistan. Urdu language was able to be treated as lingua-franca- a language of communication. Urdu was such language that could be spoken by the people of different provinces in Pakistan. With the passage of time, regional languages went on losing their importance and Urdu language overcame them but English remained the official language of Pakistan even then. Many policies were offered at government level to replace Urdu with English as official language but it retained its position.

In mainstream schools, English language was to be taught from class five but now it is taught as compulsory subject from class one. The demand of English is very high in Pakistan. People like to send their children in English medium schools. The number of students in English medium schools is very large. The government had offered a policy of teaching English to everyone but this policy is not giving us a desired outcomes.

We do not have qualified teachers to do the job properly. There are many factors which can show the state of English language teaching in Pakistan. These include,

Students

Teachers

Textbooks

Methodology

Evaluation

Supervisory staff

Economic problems

Over crowded classes

Students

Everyone up to the Bachelor level has to study English as a compulsory subject. Many students do not like this compulsion because the students who come from the rural back ground are not motivated towards learning English. Their parents cannot help them because they are mostly uneducated. They are not clear in learning the purpose of learning English language. They think that only good student scan learn English language. Some people have realized the basic purpose of learning English language in modern age. They have realized that the English is the key to any success and to get a good job.

Teachers

In majority of our schools, English is taught with a well known and classic method i.e. Grammar Translation Method (GTM). Teachers who teach English are not well trained. In government sector schools, English is taught by B.Ed degree hold teachers who have studied English at B.Ed level as optional subject. They teach English to their students as they have been taught by their own teachers. At college level, English language is taught by the teachers who have done Masters in English literature. In Pakistan, teaching English language is considered as teaching literature. These teachers become failure when the matter of written and oral discourse comes.

Text books

The syllabus is emphasized on just two skills i.e. reading and writing skills while very little importance is given to the listening and speaking skill. Our text books are full of stories, poems, plays, essays etc. because the curriculum designers have mostly the literature based background. So their preference is also literature based. The content of our books is also very large. The teachers are always at pressure by the principles and the parents of the students. So the preference of the teachers is the completion of the course by some easy way without giving emphasize on concept making. Teachers are not guided well that how to teach a text book.

Evaluation

The assessment system of English language in Pakistan is very weak. The exams are mostly rote-memorization based. In exams, same questions are repeated again and again. The guide books are available in market to give the students the summaries and answers of the questions.

Supervisory staff

The supervisory staff is unaware of the latest methods of teaching English language. They aim just to get high marks to their students for the popularity of their school and college.

Economic problems

Economic problems and lack of facilities is also a major problem in the process of teaching and learning of English language in Pakistan. Due to the lack of funds, there are not audio visual aids, language laboratories etc in Pakistan. Teachers are also not trained for using them.

Over crowded classes

In the government sector schools, Classes are overcrowded. The environment in the class is not learners' friendly.

Methods of English Language Teaching

According to Asher and James (1982), Methods are the combination of techniques that are used and plasticized by the teachers in the classrooms in order to teach their students and approaches are the philosophies of teachers about language teaching that can be applied in the classrooms by using different techniques of language teaching. For example, if a teacher has an approach that language is the communication and learning a language is in fact learning the meanings, functions and uses of language. So the techniques will be based on the communicative language teaching and task based methods.

According to Freeman (2000), Methods which are taught to the teachers make a base and give them thinking about the applicable techniques and principles according to the situation where they stand. They are clear about their attraction towards certain methods and also think that why have they repelled certain method. The knowledge of method is very necessary because their knowledge is base of teaching.

History of Language Teaching

Today, English is the world's most widely studied foreign language. Five hundred years ago, Latin was the most dominant language to be studied because it was the language of business, commerce and education in the western world. In the sixteenth century, however, French, Italian and English gain in importance as a result of political change in Europe and Latin gradually became displaced as a language of spoken and written communication.

Latin became a dead language. It was being started to read in the books as classic language. Children started to enter in the 'grammar school' in sixteenth and eighteenth centuries to learn grammar rules of Latin. To learn Latin language became a "mental gymnastic". In the eighteenth century, when modern languages began to enter in the curriculum of the European countries, these languages were taught by the same methods as Latin language was taught. Grammatical rules were memorized. Written practices were done. The passages were translated from the second language to the first language and vice versa.

By the nineteenth century, this method was considered as a standard method of teaching language. The textbooks were divided into chapters. Each chapter contained a certain grammatical rule and rule was practices with a lot of written exercises (Richards, and Rodgers, 1986).

Grammar Translation Method

Grammar translation method was first known in the United States as Prussian Method. Grammar translation method dominated European and foreign language teaching from 1840 to 1940.

Characteristics of grammar translation method

According to the Richards and Rodgers (1986), the principle characteristics of Grammar Translation Method are:

In Grammar Translation Method, the goal of learning a second or foreign language is mainly to be enabling to read the literature of that language and is to get benefit from intellectual development that results from foreign and second language study. Grammar Translation Method enables to learn detailed grammatical rules of target language and enables to translate into and out of the target language.

In Grammar Translation Method, reading and writing skills are focused while listening and speaking skills are totally ignored.

In Grammar Translation Method, the memorization of grammatical rules of foreign language and of the vocabulary items is focused. Vocabulary items are limited to the text that they are taught. Vocabulary items are memorized with the help of their meanings in the native language.

In Grammar Translation Method, sentenced is the basic unit of teaching and language practice. The learners are enabled to do detailed analysis of a sentence through this method. The learners are enabled to translate a sentence into and out of the target language.

In Grammar Translation Method, accuracy is emphasized rather than fluency. The basic purpose of this method used to be able to pass the written examinations.

In Grammar Translation Method, grammar is taught deductively i.e. by presenting and practicing the detailed grammatical rules of target language. A syllabus of grammatical rules if followed in which rules are systematically put in to a sequence starting from the simple rules to the complex rules.

In Grammar Translation Method, students are directed and instructions are given in the student's native language so that they may easily understand the instructions. The students' native language is used to explain new items and to enable them to compare two languages i.e. native language of the learners and foreign language.

Main techniques associated with grammar translation method

There are some major techniques that are adopted in the teaching of second or foreign language through Grammar Translation Method.

Translation of a literary passage. Students translate a reading passage into and out of the target language. In checking of the translation, the focus of the teacher is on vocabulary and grammatical structures. The translation may be written or spoken or both. Students should not translate idioms but must understand their meanings.

Reading Comprehension Questions. A passage for reading and understanding is given to the students and they have to answer the questions given at the end of the passage in the target language. The questions are put into a sequence. The first group of questions is related with the information drawn from the passage, second group of questions require students to make inferences based on their understanding of the passage. The third group of questions requires students to relate the passage with their own experiences.

Antonym and synonyms. Students are given a list of words and a passage. The students have to find out the antonyms of those words in the passage. Similarly, the students can also be given a list of words and can be asked to find out the synonyms of the given words from the passage.

Deductive application of rules. Grammar rules are presented before the students with the all possible information that can be given to the students relating to the grammatical rules. The rules are also explained with examples. Once students understand a rule, they are asked to apply it for some different examples.

Fill in the blanks. The students are given a series of sentences with some missing words. The students have to fill in the blanks with some suitable grammar items such a preposition and verbs with different tenses.

Memorization. The students are given a list of vocabulary to memorize them with their meaning in the native language. Students are also required to memorize the grammatical rules.

Use words in sentences. In order to check the understanding of the meaning and sue of vocabulary, the students are asked to use the list of typical words in their own sentences.

Composition. The teacher gives a topic to the students to write about that topic in the target language. The topic is based on some aspect of the reading passage of the lesson.

Advantages of grammar translation method

Nazir (2002) narrated as "The structure of a foreign language is best learnt when compare and contrasted with that of the mother tongue."

According to Ishtiaq (2005), the Grammar Translation Method is based on a system and is in a sequence because in this method all the grammatical rules are arranged into a sequence for the convenience of the students. This sequence starts from the simple rules and eventually leads to the complex rules. When a book is written by an author on grammatical rules keeping in view the sequence, he writes one lesson that is completely based on one rule of grammar. Each lesson is divided into certain rules and these rules dominate the lesson.

Larson (1986) narrated importance of Grammar Translation Method as "in Grammar Translation Method, students are made to learn new words. Therefore, this method helps in improving vocabulary. Reading and writing are the two primary skills that are developed most so as to enable the students to read the literature in target language. Grammar is taught deductively and it makes use of students' mother language."

Disadvantages of grammar translation method

Neilson (2003) stated that in Grammar Translation Method, oral skills i.e. speaking and listening skills are totally neglected while the whole attention is given to just reading and writing skills. Through this method, the students become able to read the literature of the target language by translating it into their native language but cannot communicate into the target language and even cannot understand the target language spoken by any native speaker.

In Grammar Translation Method, the authority of the classroom is totally in the hands of the teacher and teacher is at the centre of the classroom. The communication is just from teachers to students not from student to teacher and not even from students to students. The students are considered empty minded which have needed to be filled with all the possible vocabulary and grammatical structures that can be filled in their minds.

The main disadvantage of the Grammar Translation Method is that it is almost impossible to translate all the phrases and sentences into the target language because the main focus is the translation of this method so such students who have been taught through this method become fail to communicate well in the target language.

In the Grammar Translation Method, accuracy is emphasized rather than fluency and students go on thinking to accurate the grammatical rules which actually hinder their fluency. In Grammar Translation Method, the teacher abruptly interferes and stops the students wherever they make the mistakes so they become conscious while speaking and communicating in the target language and become unable to be fluent.

Criticism of the grammar translation method

There have been various criticisms on the use of Grammar Translation Method for the teaching of modern language particularly English. There are some objections that have been put on the Grammar Translation Method.

Grammar Translation Method emphasizes on the reading and writing skills on the expense of listening and speaking skills. But learning the listening and speaking skills of a language is more important than leaning reading and writing skills because it is a natural way of learning a language. In Grammar Translation Method, writing gives learners a reflective chance to look at their writing that whether they have written correct spellings, vocabulary and grammatical rules. The main aim and goal of most of the learners in learning modern languages is not just to develop reading and writing skills whereas they want to communicate well and understand the native speakers' language.

Grammar Translation Method demands the arrangement of the grammatical rules in a structure starting from the simple rules and leading to the complex rules. While most of the learners especially adult learners want to start using the language straight way because they have not got time to learn all the grammatical rules one by one and start using them after then. Grammar Translation Method emphasizes to make the students learn each rule and practice it one by one and after commanding a rule move to the next one. So there remains the need to revise all the rules again and again so that they may not get washed out of the learners' mind.

In Grammar Translation Method, sentence is the basic unit of the language. The learners are made able to memorize certain rules of grammar and certain vocabulary which they have to fit everywhere they find a chance to use them. But if learners find some unusual situation they become unable to fit their memorized rules to fit in that situation.

In Grammar Translation Method, grammatical rules and vocabulary is memorized in modern ways of teaching a language memorization is not regarded while exposure of a language, experience and use of language is preferred and recommended. People have different learning styles. Some people like to learn vocabulary, grammar rules, phrase and sentences through memorization. But when they have to sue them, they must have time to stop and recall the memorized items.

In Grammar Translation Method, the focus of the learners is the manipulation of the grammatical rules and words to write correct sentences with prescribed content. But in learning the modern languages, it is recommended that the major focus should be more and more on the oral practice and expression of the personal meanings. The expression of the personal meanings may spoil the structure of the grammar rules and sentences.

In Grammar Translation Method, the teachers and the learners mostly speak in their first language or native language. While it is highly recommended that use of second and target language should be maximized in learning the language but here maximization does not mean teachers and learners should all the time speak in the target language. The speaking of the second language is also advantageous because in language classrooms we may also have multilingual learners that may belong to different languages so a single language i.e. second or target language will be convenient to use without pointing a single native language.

In Grammar Translation Method, teacher should explain, describe the grammatical rules, tell the meanings of the words, translate the passages, conduct grammar practices, correct mistakes and teacher should authorized the classroom and learners. But now it is highly recommended that teachers role in the class should be as a guide and facilitator. Teacher's role in the language classroom should be less. Teacher should act behind the scene. Teacher should give the problems to the learners to solve, interact among each other and generally it leads the learners to be independent learners.

In Grammar Translation Method, translation is the basic technique. Translation is a way of understanding the meanings of the written and oral texts by converting the texts into the first or native language of the learners. Translation is a way of comparing and contrasting two languages i.e. first language and second language. But now it is highly recommended that translation should be avoided because it leads to such a mental process which hinders or stops learning. The learners should be encouraged to speak and even think in second language as much as possible.

In Grammar Translation Method, accuracy is emphasized rather than fluency but it is now highly recommended that accuracy should come at the last and fluency should preferred first. If the learners are corrected on their mistakes from the very beginning, they will become hesitant to speak in the target language. When they will start to speak, their minds will abruptly become read to look upon the grammatical rules that they are using so I this way they will become unable to be fluent in language (Jonathan, 2012)

Grammar translation method in Pakistan

Faiq (2003) stated that in most of the Pakistani schools, Grammar Translation Method is used to teach English. In Pakistan, Grammar Translation Method is used to learn and memorize the grammatical rules in such a way that rules are deductively presented and practiced through the exercises of translation, fill in the blanks and by using such other techniques. Mostly students are taught certain letters, applications and stories like "thirsty crow", "greedy dog" etc. In Pakistan, it is considered that learning a language means just to be able to read literature and write certain kinds of things without giving importance to the listening and speaking skills.

Grammar is taught through deductive method i.e. rules are presented to the learners, deep analysis of the rules is done and rules are used for translating passages of English into Urdu ad of Urdu into English. It is a common practice in our public sector schools that a student reads aloud the lines of a paragraph and teacher translate it into Urdu word by word. Teachers write the meanings of the difficult words on the blackboard. Linguists say that a language can be better learnt without translation and meanings of the difficult words can be told through demonstrations and actions.

Language can be better learnt and taught by using it actively in the classrooms. Grammar can better learnt through inductive or implicit method i.e. exposure of a rule is provided to the learners and learners grasp that rule unconsciously. The importance of listening and speaking skill cannot be denied in the public sector schools of Pakistan. Writing is also an important skill but just copying the material from the blackboard is not a good practice. It limits the thinking process of the learners. Learners should be given some topics to write on them in their own words.

In our schools, teachers and textbooks take the central role in the classroom while the students sit passively depending on the teachers and textbooks. The learners' purpose of sitting in the classroom is to take lectures from the teachers. The interaction from the students to teachers is not ever into the consideration of public sector schools. They just know how to feed the minds of the learners with information. Learners should be considered as living beings with their own minds, ideas and thinking. The learners have their background knowledge. The use of the leaner's' background knowledge can be helpful for the teachers to teach a language.

Direct Method

The direct method was the outcome of the reaction against the grammar translation method. It was developed on the supposition that the learners of foreign and second language should directly think in English. This method is against the translation of written and oral text and focuses on telling the meanings of the words through action, demonstration or real objects. This method focuses on directly thinking, doing discussion and conversation in second language.

According to Palmer (1959), the direct method has the following characteristics:

Translation is banished in the language classrooms including the use of mother tongue.

When grammar is taught inductively that means exposure is given to the learners related to the grammar rule that is being taught. Through this method grammar rule is internalized to the learners.

Oral training precedes any sort of reading and writing. The learners are given chances for oral communication first and then it leads to the reading and writing skills of the language. We can say that listening and speaking skills lead to the reading and writing skills.

The use of detached sentences is shifted by the use of connected text.

The pronunciation is taught systematically through the system of phonetics and phonology of the target language. It means that learners are motivated to speak in the accent of the second language. So the learners have to follow the phonetics and phonology system of the second language.

The use of bilingual dictionary is banished totally in the language classrooms. The teachers don't tell the meanings of the word through the learners' native or first language while the difficult words are described through action or through natural context.

The vocabulary and structures of the language are inculcated to large extent by the teachers and answered by the students.

Purwarno (2006) described the aims of the direct method. He described that direct method is an attempt and effort to form a link between thought and expression and between experience and language. It is based on the supposition that a learner should learn a second and foreign language in the same way that a child learns acquired and experiences his first language. A child, when he is born, listens to the sounds of things and people around him and starts speaking after experiencing them. Similarly in direct method, the learners are given exposure of the language to the learners so that they may get experience of the language. In direct method, the learners are kept away from their first language or mother tongue and are motivated to speak in the second language.

Principles of direct method

The direct method has the following principles:

Classroom instructions are exclusively conducted in the target language.

Only everyday vocabulary and sentences are taught.

New teaching pints are introduced orally.

Concrete objects are used to make the relation between form and meaning.

Abstract vocabulary is taught by the association of ideas.

Mother tongue has almost no rule.

Demonstration is preferred to explanation and translation.

Vocabulary in use is emphasized to trigger the learners' thinking in English.

Pronunciation receives primary attention.

Self correction is preferred to teacher's correction.

Lessons should provide the chance for real life conversation.

Grammar is taught inductively or implicitly (examples are given to the students relating to the grammatical rules which successfully internalize the grammatical rules).

Lessons are topic based not structurally designed. The grammatical rules are not structured in a sequence that starting from the simple rules and leading to the complex rules. The grammatical rules are arranged according to the interest ad need of the learners.

Language and culture are interwoven.

The above mentioned principles are seen in the following guidelines for teaching oral language:

Never translate: demonstrate

Never explain: act

Never imitate mistakes: correct

Never speak with simple words: use sentences

Never speak too much: make students speak much

Never use the books: use your lesson plans

Never jump around: follow your plan

Never go too fast: keep the pace of the students

Never speak too slowly: speak normally

Never speak too quickly: speak naturally

Never speak too loudly: speak naturally

Never be impatient: take it easy (Richards, and Rodgers, 1986, p.10).

Purwano (2006) has described the advantages of direct method. Direct method is said to be natural method because it teaches the second or foreign language in a way that a child learns his first language. Language is taught through experience, discussion, communication and exposure of the language. Learners can learn to understand the spoken language and can easily communicate in the second language. The vocabulary and the sentences that are taught through this method are beneficial for the learners in their everyday life.

Learners are made independent learners and become confident in the use of language through this method. Their confidence increases when they interact with each other, discuss their thoughts and expressions and solve the problems given to them by their teachers.

Criticism on direct method

Direct method is successful in private language schools because this method can be applied only in small classes where all the learners can get individual attention.

In Direct method, the teachers extravagantly excel in keeping the mother tongue of the learners away from them.

Direct method demands the learners to do oral communication in the second language and it also demands the pronunciation and accent to be just like the native speakers so there is need for the language school to hire the native speakers which actually can be very expensive.

The success of the direct method depends on the teacher's skills and personality more than on the methodology (Richards and Rodgers, 1986).

Structural Approach

The structural approach is an approach not a method. It is not correct to call structural approach as a method of language teaching rather is an approach which based on some assumptions and any method can be used with it. This approach mainly employs the techniques of the direct method but the reading and writing skills are not wholly neglected. The structural approach is based on the sound principles of language learning. The structural approach means that the arrangement of the words in such a way as to form a suitable pattern and that pattern may make the meanings of the language clear to us. Any language has its own structure and skeleton which gives this language a decent appearance. A structure is a pattern and a particular arrangement of words which to indicate grammatical meanings. It may be a word, a phrase or a sentence (Gauridushi, 2011).

The structural approach of language teaching has following objectives:

To make the foundation and base of the structures of a language through language repetition and drill.

To enable the learners to attain mastery over an essential vocabulary of about 3,000 root words for active use.

To correlate the teaching of grammar and composition with the reading lessons.

To teach the four fundamental skills i.e. listening, speaking, reading and writing in the order named.

Advantages of structural approach

Sharma (2011) has described the advantages and merits of the structural approach:

Structural approach gives importance to the four fundamental language skills i.e. listening, speaking, reading and writing.

In facilitates the learning of a language by imparting the knowledge of the structures of that languages.

It promotes everyday language.

It enables the students to speak language correctly.

By learning the structures of the sentence, the child automatically learns grammar, word order and use of words. We can say that a child can internalize the language through this approach.

Disadvantages of structural approach

Sharma (2011) has described the disadvantages of the structural approach:

Structural approach is suitable for lower class students to learn a language.

Continuous teaching of structures and their repetition make the atmosphere dull and boring.

Reading and writing abilities of the students are neglected.

It is very difficult to get skilled teachers for this purpose.

This approach of language teaching is not suitable for the higher classes.

Principles for the selection of structures

Ekayati (2006) has given some advices which should follow while selecting the structures of a language. She said that the following principle should be born in our mind while selecting the structures of the language:

Usefulness. While selecting and grading the structures of a language, we should keep in focus the frequency and utility. The structures which are most frequent in use, should introduce first.

Productivity. Some structures are productive and other structures can be built on them. For example, we have two sentence patterns:

Mr. John is here.

Here is Mr. John.

The former pattern is productive because we can frame many sentences on the same pattern like, 'he is there, 'she is there' etc.

Simplicity. The simplicity of structures depends on the form and meanings. The structure, 'I am playing cricket' is far simpler in from and meaning than 'the patient had died before the doctor came.' The simpler structures should be preferred to the complicated one.

Teach-Ability. Some structures can be taught more easily than the others. For example, the structure 'I am writing' can be taught easily because the action which it denotes can be demonstrated in a realistic situation.

Audiolingual Method

Audiolingual method is also known as 'Army Method' because after the outbreak of World War II, the army soldiers decided to be proficient in the languages of their enemies. So a new learning method of foreign languages was discovered which is known as audiolingual method. This method is based on a linguistic theory and behavioral psychology. The audiolingual method was widely used in the 1950s and 1960s and the emphasis was not on the understanding of the words rather on acquisition of structures and patterns in common everyday dialogues (Tjtaylor, 2012).

The theory of language underlying audioligualism was based on the structural linguistics. This theory is based on the belief that learning a language entails mastering the elements or building blocks of the language and learning the rules, by which these elements are combined, from phoneme to morpheme, from morpheme to word, from word to phrase and from phrase to sentence. An important belief of structural linguistics is that a language is primarily what it is spoken and only secondarily what is written. Speech is language. We learn to speak before we learn to read and write. So the structural linguistics pays emphasis on the spoken skills of a language (Brooks, 1964).

The theory of language learning underlying audioligualism is based on behaviorism. This theory has given by B.F Skinner. It assumes that a human being can be trained using a system of reinforcement. The human beings are capable of showing behaviors. These behaviors are based on the stimulus that is given to them. Correct behavior receives positive feedback while errors receive negative feedback. So the audiolingual method is like direct method in which the lesson takes place entirely in the target language. In audiolingual method, learners are given stimulus in the target language; the learners show behavior in response of this stimulus in target language.

The teaching of the oral skills with accurate pronunciation, grammar and the ability to respond quickly and accurately is the main objective of audiolingual method. Reading and writing skills may be taught but they are dependent on the oral skills (Richard and Rodgers, 1986).

The Audiolingual method has the key features of drilling, memorization, repetition and over learning. The problem is with these features of this method because these features can be included in its demerits. It was seen that the expected results of the Audiolingual method were not seen into the learners because they were not able to use the memorized structures out of the classroom and in the natural context. The experience of studying language through Audiolingual procedure was boring and unsatisfying (Tjtaylor, 2012)

Oral Approach/ Situational Language Teaching

The oral approach is a method in which children use whatever hearing they get from their surroundings. They also take help from the context to understand and use language. The target is to develop the skills in the individual so that he can communicate and function independently. This approach helps in the development of reading and writing skills.

The oral approach was developed from 1930s to the 1960s by British applied linguists such as Harold Palmer and A.S. Hornsby. The main difference between oral approach and the direct method was that the methods which were developed under this approach had theoretical principles about the selection, grading and presentation of the content and material. This sequencing of the content would lead to better learning with a good knowledge of vocabulary and grammatical patterns. In this approach all the points of language were to be presented in "situations" which led to the second name of the approach i.e. situational language teaching.

As Halliday (1964) says that the emphasis is now on the descriptive part of the language activity as part of the whole of complex events. In this way an actual situation is the combination of participants and relevant objects. Although, the teachers are not aware of this approach today but it had long lasting impact on language learning. However, its focus on oral practice, grammar and sentence patterns is still supported by the teachers. According to Pittman (1963), the students should be first taught the new structures and new vocabulary orally.

Total Physical Response

In Total Physical Response (TPR), the teacher gives the students instructions and the students follow the instructions by using whole body responses. James J. Asher, a professor, of psychology at San Jose State University developed the method Total Physical Response in late 1960s to help in learning second languages.

According to Asher (1977), "TPR is based on the premise that the human brain has a biological program for acquiring any natural language on earth including the sign language of the deaf". We can see this process if we observe the language learning process of an infant. The communication between parents and the child consists of both verbal and physical aspects. When the child is not able to speak, at the time he/she is internalizing the language. This is the time when code breaking occurs. After this process the child becomes able to speak and reproduce language.

In TPR, the teacher repeats the process in the class. According to Asher (1977), "the teacher is the instructor of the stage play in which the pupils are actors". Students respond to the commands of the teacher which require physical movement. TPR gained some attention because it focuses on the role of comprehension that it helps in second language learning. Krashan (1981) says that physical actions help to make the input comprehensible and they also reduce stress. TPR is most useful for beginners. TPR is also used for teaching students with dyslexia or related learning disabilities.

Communicative Language Teaching

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is a widely used approach in the field of English language teaching. It emphasizes communication as both the system and the objective of language learning. CLT is an extension of the national functional syllabus. Since the introduction of communicative language teaching in the late 1970s, there have been different definitions and interpretations of the communicative approach which are as follows:

Communicative Language Teaching is a teaching method for teaching a second language emphasizes on the importance of students' interactive ability to express their own ideas in the target language (Hattum, 2006).

Communication ability is the essential goal in language learning. The communicative approach claims that learning a foreign language should not be focused on language structures (grammar and vocabulary), but also on the communicative functions that the language performs. Language learners should also learn the relations between the structures and the communicative functions in real situations and real time (Littlewood, 1981).

Communicative language teaching began in Britain in the 1960s. It was used to replace the earlier structural method, called Situational Language Teaching (Orwig, 1999).

The goal of communicative language teaching is to teach real-life communication skills. Students learn with a situation that they may encounter in their real life. CLT is not like the audiolingual method, which is based on repetition and drills. On the contrary, it uses the way to leave students in suspense as to the outcome of a class exercise, which will change according to the students' reactions and responses. The real-life situation change every day; therefore, the students' learning motivation comes from their desire to communicate in the ways and topics which they are interested in (Galloway, 2010). Therefore, many researchers have indicated that it is better to use CLT in ESL classrooms, rather than EFL classrooms in Asia (Liao, 2006).

Aims of communicative language teaching

The aim of this approach is to enable the students to communicate in the target language like a native speaker of that language. CLT does not focus on accuracy but stresses on the semantic use of language. A student should know the different forms in meaning that can be used to perform a function and also that a single form can perform many functions. The objective of CLT is to enable the students to use the target language as a mean of expression that can meet their communicative needs. Communicative language teaching includes activities based on social interaction, such as conversation, discussion sessions, dialogues and role plays etc. CLT focuses on the proficiency of the language rather than on the mastery of structures. It can be said that CLT does enables learners to interact but it is very difficult for a teacher to introduce such activities which allows genuine interaction.

Teaching techniques of communicative language teaching

The basic objective of the communicative language teaching is the communication into the target language in authentic situation. To achieve this, the students need to know the linguistic forms, meanings and functions of language. The learning and teaching activities that are used in the communicative language teaching require the use of communication processes like:

Asking for information

Sharing information

Negotiation of meaning

Interaction

The classroom activities are often designed to focus on the completion of tasks. In the completion of these tasks, the teacher's role is as a facilitator who motivates and facilitates the students to speak during the completion of these tasks. Teacher is an advisor who answers the questions of the students and monitors their performance. Teachers is the co-communicator who engage in the activities of the students but the learners are responsible and manager of their own learning (Richards and Rodgers, 2001).

The following techniques can be used in language teaching through communicative language teaching method:

Authentic material. Authentic material like a recent newspaper article can be given to the learners. The learners can be assigned to listen to a live or television broadcast.

Scrambled sentences. Students are asked to unscramble the sentences so that the sentences are restored to their original order which is a good activity for learning to join the ideas. The learners can also be asked to unscramble the line of a mixed dialogue.

Completion of a picture story. The learners can be asked to put the pictures of a picture strip story in order with the help of their co-learners and write lines about the story of pictures.

Language games. Language games are frequently used in teaching language through communicative language teaching in which the learners can learn language through:

Following directions

Sequencing

Describing

Comparing and contrasting

Fact and opinions

Categorizing

Role play. Role play gives the students an opportunity to practice communication in different social context and in different social roles (Lubna, 2010).

Advantages of communicative language teaching

The goal of Communicative Language Teaching is the development and improvement of knowledge and skills that will help a speaker to make his/her communication successful. The main focus of CLT is effectiveness. When we consider how native speakers of English think about the use of language, then it becomes obvious to us that our main goal is effective communication and the transfer of our ides not just formal grammatical correctness and accuracy.

In CLT, language is the taught in the way as it is used in everyday life. Students are not supposed to memorize language. Grammatical accuracy is important but our main focus should be effective communication. CLT aims at the development of the other three competencies as well: socio-linguistic, discourse and strategic competence (Canale and Swain, 2003). The attitude of students towards learning a second language can be made positive by using CLT. If we focus so much on accuracy, the students would not dare to use the language in the class because they fee hesitant and afraid that they might make grammatical errors. In this way CLT encourages the students to use the both of their linguistic and communicative competences. The idea of appropriateness means that the student will not only learn the language, but they also learn about the culture and its use in social context.

CLT is considered to be an effective way of teaching a second language because it reduces fear of making grammatical errors. It also provides students with a picture of the culture associated with that English language. In this way the students learn the language and the culture as well as they come to know of what is considered to be in a given culture.

According to Melrose (1995) the legacy of CLT is the realization that teaching a language involves far more than simply dealing with its syntactic, lexical and phonological components because language in use results from the ways people choose to manipulate these components in discourse. CLT adds the dimensions of different language functions such as requesting, apologizing, persuading, thanking and conveying information that are vital for communication with others. CLT makes students aware of the appropriate use of language according to the levels of formality, tone, context, topic and non verbal behavior.

Limitations of communicative language teaching

Despite all the benefits of this approach that it can enable a learner to communicate in the target language in everyday life, its implementation in certain conditions has not been without problems. Apart from other factors, such as political reasons, language policy, administrative, economic considerations, probably a fundamental problem in the implementation of CLT is its conflict with local culture of learning (Tudor 1996). Culture of learning can be defined as a "framework of expectations, attitudes, values, and beliefs about what constitute good learning, about how to teach or learn, whether and how to ask questions, what textbooks are for, and how language teaching relates to broader issues of the nature and purpose of education" (Cortazzi and Jin, 1996).

It may be very difficult to use CLT in large classes where it may be easier to guide the students through the grammar translation method. CLT cannot be used in EFL classrooms because the target language i.e. English is rarely used outside the classroom. Some people believe that CLT focuses too much on oral skills and ignores the skills of reading and writing. It may also be possible that many students would not feel comfortable to participate in communicative activities.

Communicative language teaching in Pakistan

Azim (2007) has described that we have to face a lot of problems in the application of communicative language teaching in Pakistan. Some of these problems are as follows:

Grammar. Grammar is one of the most important factors of language learning and teaching which is totally banished in the practice of communicative language teaching. It is one of the major drawback or hurdle in the way of application of communicative language teaching by Pakistani teachers. Most of the Pakistani teachers believe that fluency of the language is important but accuracy is more important. They believe that fluency can be developed in language after getting accuracy so accuracy must be developed in the early stages of life which can be difficult to attain in the later stages of life. So these assumptions about grammar make them motivated to teach grammar to their students.

Spoken language. There is over emphasis on the spoken language in communicative language teaching. It is based on the assumption that the more you speak the language in the real life situation, the more you learn. But in the Pakistani context, a student gets maximum 40 to 45 mints to get exposure of the second language which is in the classrooms and the life of classrooms cannot be said as real life situation. So a Pakistani student feels difficulty to learn language from this method.

Cultural difference. The Pakistani people are living in the country having different languages and different cultures. The Pakistani students are not bilingual but trilingual. They have their mother tongue, first tongue and the second tongue. To understand a language, they have to convert the second language in their mother tongue and then in the first tongue. So the application of communicative language teaching seems difficult here where the students cannot speak in the second language fluently.

Curriculum. There is not any syllabus available for the real application of the communicative language teaching in Pakistan. It is impossible to teach language through this method when they don't have relevant curriculum and activities. The curriculum that we have to follow is totally based on the grammar translation method and all our exams are based on this method. So the teachers hesitate in applying CLT in their classrooms because they think that they will waste the time and energies of their students and the students will not be able to get good marks in the exams.

Economic problems. Pakistan is a poor country and we cannot afford the luxury of communicative language teaching because it is too expensive. The private sector schools can afford them because they are serving only a small fraction of society. The public sector cannot think this method to be used.

Rationale

This study will provide comprehensive information about the more effective method of English language teaching in the view of prospective teachers. This study will make clear the prospective of prospective teachers of English language about the teaching of language. This study will make clear the constraints and hurdles that lie on the way of learning and teaching language efficiently in the context of Pakistan. The study will tell us the present condition of English language teaching in Pakistan in the perspective of teachers, students as well as curriculum designers. It will tell the causes of present condition of language teaching in Pakistan and the possible solutions that can be done in this field.

It can be seen that as time passed different methods of teaching English were developed. Every method has its own advantages and disadvantages. It cannot be said that there is any method which is flawless. GTM focuses on accuracy and grammatical structures whereas CLT focuses on fluency and communication skills. Generally, in Pakistan GTM is used in public sector schools. GTM was criticized but it is still popular in our country because it can be used effectively in large classes. CLT is also used but in few of our famous private schools.

One of the reasons of using GTM is that it does require much effort on the part of the teacher as there is no focus on creativity. The teacher does not need to bring in different activities and only concentrates on the text book. In this way students' behavior towards learning English changes as they are not motivated to learn the language. But the focus of this study is now shifting to communication skills as it is the major goal of learning a second language. CLT, as its name states, stresses on communication. But it is also feared that the complete use of target language might also not prove to be very useful because there are different types of learners in a class. It can be said that we should have English mostly classes so that the communication skills are also focused and there should also be a little use of Urdu where necessary. In this way the students will not feel hesitant and will participate actively in the class.

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