1. Introduction to Communicative Competence
- Focus on Strategic Competence
1. Building Learner Confidence
2. Developing Learner Sense of Responsibility
3. Teaching Learning Strategies
- Classroom Tasks and Activities
The Communicative Approach
Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is usually characterized as a broad
approach to teaching, rather than as a teaching method with a clearly defined
set of classroom practices. As such, it is most often defined as a list of general
principles or features. One of the most recognized of these lists is David
Nunan’s (1991) five features of communicative language teaching:
1. An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the
2. The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation
3. The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on
language but also on the learning management process
4. An enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences as
important contributing elements to classroom learning
5. An attempt to link classroom language learning with language activities
outside the classroom.
The focus is on developing communicative competence in English.
Through the influence of communicative language teaching, it
has become widely accepted that communicative competence
should be the goal of language education, central to good
classroom practice (Savignon, 1997). This is in contrast to
previous views in which grammatical competence was
commonly given top priority.
Canale and Swain (1980) defined communicative competence in
terms of three components:
– grammatical competence: words and rules
– sociolinguistic competence: appropriateness
– strategic competence: use of communication and learning
• Utilize an eclectic communicative approach to teaching
language acquisition – no single method is best
notional-functional approach (Van Ek, Alexander, 1975)
the natural approach (Krashen, Terrell, 1983)
suggestopedia (Lozanov, 1971)
total-physical response (Asher, 1969)
audio-lingual method (US Army, 1950s)
grammar-translation (18th/19th Century Europe)
Teach language knowledge - vocabulary, idioms, grammar,
Teach practical, everyday language skills - listening,
speaking, reading, writing
Teach culture – this is how we do it, this is why we do it that
Teach strategies - build more learner introspection into
increase self-awareness of their abilities build confidence
learn where their weaknesses lie and what they can do to improve
develop learning strategies
DEVELOP METACOGNITIVE ABILITIES
Defining Strategic Competence
Strategic competence is:
Knowing how to recognize and repair communication breakdowns
Knowing how to work around gaps in one’s knowledge of the language
Knowing how to develop one’s own learning skills and develop fluency on one’s own
Strategic competence asks:
How do I know when I’ve misunderstood or when someone has misunderstood me?
How can I express my ideas if I don’t know the name of something or the right verb form to use?
What can I do to learn and retain new vocabulary?
How can I prepare to communicate effectively in a particular context or situation?
Strategic competence develops:
What do I say then?
Confidence of one’s own abilities
Self-directed learning skills
Strategic competence fosters:
Teaching Strategic Competence
Why Teach Strategic Competence?
Develop learner independence through self-directed learning skills
Develop learner confidence through the understanding that that the desired outcome of the
language learning process is the ability to communicate competently, not the ability to use the
language exactly as a native speaker does.
All language learners, regardless of proficiency level, are somewhere in the ‘interlanguage’ stage of
learning. Strategic competence is the recognition of this fact and the use of communication and
learning skills to develop proficiency without too much preoccupation on the end goal.
Confidence Building - Peter
• The Principles of “Building Confidence in
Fundamental Techniques in
1. Do not criticize or complain. Remember you are teaching “Adults” who in most
cases are educated, have families, and need help to adjust. Be compassionate.
2. Give honest, sincere appreciation. Open the door and let them in as “peers” not
3. Arouse in your students an eager desire to know you.
4. Talk about yourself and build rapport. Tell your life story be open and honest
about your life and purpose. Share your passion!
5. Tell your students that you make mistakes. Be Human!
6. Make your classroom a safe place to learn.
7. Be humorous; use humor to break down the barriers.
Six Ways to Build Rapport
1. Listen to your students
2. Become genuinely interested in them.
3. Remember that a person’s name is to him or her, the sweetest and most
important word in any language. Learn their names and use it in class. Avoid
dictating an English name it tears down the relationship.
4. Be a good listener; encourage people to talk about themselves and tell their life
5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Show genuine interest as them as a
6. Make the other person feel important, and do it sincerely.
TWELVE WAYS TO WIN YOUR STUDENTS OVER –
REMEMBER TEACHING IS AN ART AS IS ACTING
1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never tell a person he or she
3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
4. Begin in a friendly way.
5. Get the other person saying, “Yes, Yes” IMMEDIATELY.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of talking.
7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his (or hers).
8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s situation, ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas.
12. Throw down a challenge.
NINE WAYS TO “CHANGE” PEOPLE WITHOUT
GIVING OFFENSE OR AROUSING RESENTMENT
Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
Call attention to persons mistakes only indirectly.
Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing.
Ask questions instead of giving orders.
Let the other person save face: Leave a “way out”.
Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.
Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.
7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
9. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.
FUNDAMENTAL RULES FOR
1. Live in a day-tight compartment, meaning plan each part of the day.
2. Learn how to face trouble:
Ask your students, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
Prepare them to accept the worst.
Tell them to try to improve on the worst.
1. Remind your students of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry, in terms
of your health.
2. Keep your students busy.
3. Do not fuss about trifles.
4. Use the law of averages to outlaw their worries.
5. Cooperate with the inevitable.
6. Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it
7. Do not worry about the past. The past is over in a blink of an eye
SEVEN WAYS TO INSTILL A MENTAL ATTITUDE
THAT WILL BRING PEACE AND HAPPINESS
Fill their minds with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope.
Never try to get even with your students.
Count your blessings – not your troubles.
Do not imitate others.
Try to profit from your losses.
Create happiness for your students.
A BASIC MODEL FOR PROBLEM-SOLVING
Acknowledge the person’s feelings.
Ask questions to clarify feelings and the situation.
Summarize your understanding of the problem.
Ask the person if your understanding is correct.
Explain what you can or cannot do to help.
Problem-solve with the person.
Reassure the person of your willingness to help.
Follow through on all agreements made by setting a time and date.
End of Confidence Section
• Next: Developing Learner Responsibility and
Strategic Learning – by Ian
Developing Learner Responsibility
Learners are responsible for their own learning. ESL class is not a potion
they can quaff to magically achieve fluency. They must examine and
discuss their own habits and methods and understand what they need to
do and what they can do to achieve their goal
Every lesson should involve the development of self-study techniques
and communication strategies built around the language theme being
taught that class
Homework should be heavy on learning strategies
Most ESL teachers neglect the development of strategic competence;
learners are eager to be coached in best language learning and
communication practices. The best student evaluations can be
attributed to teachers who help students learn to learn.
Types of Learning Strategies
– Take notes when you hear/see words you don’t understand
– Create mental pictures
– Use body movement to associate language
– Word association with native language
– Put lists and labels on the wall at home
– Circumlocution – you know that thing that you use to open the door when it’s locked? Key? Ahh, yes.
– Prepare a conversation before engaging – telephone calls, at the store
– Real-life role-play
Skill Development Strategies
– Listening – listen to audio tapes and repeat (The Pimsleur Method), use music
– Pronunciation – use tongue twisters, speak into a recorder, use a mirror, use music
– Writing – chat on the Internet, find a pen pal, categorize new words, practice punctuation or
capitalization, write lines
– Reading – circle words you don’t understand when reading the newspaper, identify the main idea in
an article, read photo captions, read children’s books
Teaching a Communication Strategy
1. Hold up an unusual object (for example, a bottle opener/ corkscrew) and tell
students that you want to buy one of these in a shop but don't know the name in
English. Ask students to brainstorm how they can describe the object.
2. Learners next listen to three native speakers trying to buy an unknown object in a
hardware store and have to try to guess what it is. The focus of the activity is on
how the native speakers use communication strategies to negotiate meaning.
3. Highlight the target language and focus on pronunciation problems with some
quick choral/individual drilling.
4. Hand out a couple of other unusual objects (or pictures of objects) and ask pairs to
work together describing them using all of the seven strategies focused on above;
i.e. nutcrackers, tweezers, razor blades, hinges, hot water bottles, hampers,
wallets, pacifiers, clothes racks
Teaching a Communication Strategy
1. Review the communication strategies taught in the previous lesson and hand out
sheets with around 10 pictures of unfamiliar objects on them. Ask pairs to work
together to describe each of the objects using as many of the strategies as
2. Students then form new pairs and describe objects at random to their partner who
tries to guess what is being talked about.
3. The final stage is to see how well students can use these communication strategies
without preparation. Prepare some more pictures of unusual objects and tape one
picture onto each student's back.
When you break down the barriers, either personality of culturally you create
instant rapport and respect within the learning environment. It allows the
students to let down their guard and feel confident in learning, reducing worry,
anxiety and opening the door for a partnership.
Building confidence in the classroom will make your job easier and create an
environment of open communication allowing the students to be comfortable and
Students should be encouraged to relax in the face of communication breakdown.
In Canada, people tend to be very familiar with this type of problem and are not at
all embarrassed - learners need to develop a similar type of confidence.
If students don't know a word in English, they should be encouraged to describe it
rather than looking for an instantaneous translation in their bilingual dictionaries.
Asher, J. (1969). The total physical response approach to second language learning. Modern
Language Journal 53, pp 3-17.
Canale, M. and Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second
language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics 1, 1-47.
Ellis, G., & Sinclair, B. (1989a). Learning to Learn English - a course in learner training
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Krashen, Stephen D. and Tracy D. Terrell. 1983. The natural approach: Language acquisition
in the classroom. Hayward, CA: Alemany Press. 183pp
Lozanov, Georgi, Suggestology and Outlines of Suggestopedy, New York: Gordon & Breach
1978 (Translation of: Nauka i Iskustvi, Sofia 1971).
Nunan, D. (1991). Language teaching methodology . London: Prentice Hall International.
Savignon, S.J. (1997). Communicative Competence: Theory and Classroom Practice. New
York: McGraw-Hill. 2nd edition.
Van Ek, J.A. and Alexander, L.G. 1975. Threshold Level English. Oxford: Pergamon Press