What Is Communicative Language Teaching Approach?

Communicative language teaching approach (CLT) was developed in the 1970's. It was a reaction to the grammar translation and audio lingual methods that both seemed ineffective since many people around the world wanted to develop their communication skills and achieve a good mastery of English. Learners want to reach a high level of accuracy and fluency in order to be able to have access to additional areas of employment, travel, learn about culture, use the internet, and more.

CLT was developed to help people effectively communicate in the target language. CLT aims to make learners able to form and produce sentences. Unlike other approaches that focus on grammatical competence, CLT emphasizes meaningful communication. In other words, learners should know how to use the language in different contexts and for different purposes. It is also about understanding different types of texts (narrative, argumentative, conversations, etc) and being able to maintain communication even with a limited range of language functions and vocabulary.

CLT includes the following principles:

  • CLT views language learning as the process of using the language in authentic and meaningful interactions. For instance, making telephone calls, talking about different topics, giving explanations, taking part in conversations, etc.
  • Learners should be provided with opportunities to produce the language both in oral and written forms.
  • Learners should be engaged in authentic and purposeful conversations to develop their language skills.
  • The teacher’s guidance, support, and feedback are essential to help learners try out new forms and new ways of saying things.
  • The teacher should provide a context for real and meaningful interactions and help students to generate the target language.
  • Learners should be able to use the language inside and outside the classroom in social situations.

Therefore, CLT implies new roles for teachers and learners. According to Jack C. Richards in his book Communicative Language Teaching Today (2006), learners need to participate in classroom activities that are mostly based on cooperation and autonomy. Learners should interact with their peers in group work or pair work activities. This means, they have to be responsible for their own learning while the teacher takes the role of a monitor and a facilitator as well as provides feedback.


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