8 of 40    MODERN LANGUAGE TEACHING (CLT) & TAIWAN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT: The Principles of Modern English Language Teaching (iii)

The Principles of Modern English Language Teaching (iii)

So, what is the most modern system of teaching language? What are its principles? The most modern methodology of teaching English is loosely known as Communicative English Teaching, which is usually just called ‘CLT’.

In the previous posts, I explained two of its principles. Let’s now look at Number Three.

CLT Principle Three: Meaningful Use

In CLT, it was realised that language is for use in real situations and meaningful ways. Again, instead of the traditional ‘John has a pen. It is a red pen. John picks up the pen …’ CLT tries to reflect real life.

What these means in the classroom is that there are meaningful contexts or situations given to the speaking, and the teaching tries to reflect realistic use of language, and realistic pronunciation. Again, one of the simplest contexts is the students’ own personal lives, called ‘personalisation’. Here, the students have to talk about themselves, and this is obviously very meaningful. People like to talk about themselves, and most people are interested in the lives of others.

One important point here is that the student always should talk truthfully, to make the message the most meaningful of all. Rehearsing or memorising answers from a book is a blatant form of dishonesty, and this doesn’t happen in real-life communication between people. Think about it. When you talk to other people, do you just ‘invent’ answers for them to hear? Of course not! So why would you think this is acceptable in the class-room? Or in an IELTS Speaking Test?

In grammar-translation, meaningful use does not happen. Memorisation and drills are meaningless and artificial. The language you are using is external to your life, and unrelated to any real situation you are in, and often, not even true. False answers and complete untruths are often encouraged.

Now, check that you know the meaning of the underlined vocabulary (also repeated below).

  • to reflect (v)
  • a context (n)
  • to be artificial (adj)
  • to be external (adj)

The next post will explain the CLT Principle Four.

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