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Communicative Language Teaching for the EFL Classroom

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When examining the comparison between a theatrical stage and an EFL classroom, the roles of the performers and audience in a theatre are clearly defined. In the EFL classroom it is just as important to ask who the main actors are and who the audience is. In the traditional role, the teacher would be the main performer – the one who speaks most often in class. The students are the audience sitting passively and listening to the teacher. When students do have opportunities to speak, their comments are not directed to each other but at the teacher. The teacher then is the audience, an audience of one.  In the communicative classroom, the teacher becomes less of a focus and more of a facilitator where the planned lessons lead students through the various activities. The goal of communicative classroom teaching is to maximize opportunities for students to practice the language in a controlled setting. Frequent practice allows students to more quickly attain a level of proficiency in real communication, namely the understanding and use of the language studied in real life situations outside the classroom.  The core principles of communicative language teaching are:  

1. The teacher is the facilitator of communication rather than the focus.  

2. The students are involved participants in an active learning process accomplished by providing activities that require them to speak and listen to each other. 

3. Pair work is frequently used to maximize their talk time and make them accountable for their learning. Additionally, as active participants students are more likely to be motivated and prepared.

Effective communicative learning activities are often multi-skill, with one skill like listening reinforcing another skill like speaking, so quite often the skills of speaking, listening and reading are integrated and practiced in a single communicative lesson. When creating activities, it is important to think in terms of integrating skills. After a listening activity, for example, students can speak about the subject and use the same vocabulary from the listening activity.  The two skills reinforce each other. Likewise, pre-listening/reading (receptive skills practice) can include a speaking activity to prepare students for the particular passage they will be listening to or reading.