Ans. Communicative language teaching is an approach the focuses on developing communicative competence in real life situations. It is a way of teaching that promotes interaction between teacher and students and among students. The main purpose of this teaching approach is to help learners gain confidence in using the target language when they are required to use it.
The main roles that teachers play in CLT are:
i) Facilitator: Teachers act as facilitators. They do not teach anything; rather, they design task and activities that students do. Teaching communicative competence means focusing on meaning making conversation. Students engage in debate, discussion, and problem-solving tasks which are facilitated by teachers.
ii) Developing and using authentic materials: Teachers develop authentic and interesting materials that offer interaction in real-life situation to the learners. For example, teachers can design a role-play between a salesperson and a buyer in the classroom. For this task, teachers can bring some potatoes, tomatoes, green chillies, lentils and so forth in the class. Then, a student plays the role of a salesperson and another can take the role of a buyer. They role play of selling and buying groceries. They can also bargain on the price which is very common in Bangladesh market places.
ii) Practising functions and forms of the target language in context rich environment: Teachers need to plan activities that are bound to specific functions and forms of the target language. For example, “seeing a doctor” could be the function of a classroom task. Teachers can design the class keeping the forms of language use in a doctor’s office. Students make dialogue and role-play with the written dialogue.
iii) Adopting a learner-centred classroom environment: Teachers should create an environment which is learner-centred and anxiety-free. Having a favourable environment would encourage students to speak out and engage in effective communication. If the class is controlled by teachers, students would be passive. Passive students are not a part of a CLT-based class.
On the other hand, students are communicators in CLT. They take responsibilities of their own learning by actively participating in learning activities. In the classroom, for example, they take part in group works and role play. They also share their opinions independently. They ask questions if they do not understand anything. The teacher only guides them through the process. Learners in CLT always use the language as much as possible. They look for learning opportunities outside the classroom. For example, they will watch English movies to develop their listening skills. They will also do voluntary work to get the opportunity to speak.