Making the LEEP from Examination to Communication

Andy Curtis

English is not a language. Although this statement may seem somewhat strange, it has a history of at least 30 years, going back to Henry Widdowson’s book, Teaching Language as Communication, published in 1978. When Elaine Tarone reviewed Widdowson’s book, she noted that his “central thesis is that traditional foreign language classes have focused too greatly on the grammatical structures of language rather than the day-to-day functions of language…on usage at the expense of use” (1980, p.522). Tarone defines use here as meaning: “the ability to successfully communicate in the language”. However, in many countries, English has not been taught or learned or used for communication until relatively recently. Instead, it has been memorized as a subject for examinations, with little or no communicative intent. In this plenary, we will look at how to move from Learning English for Examination Purposes (LEEP) to learning English as a language for communication.