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Interpreting Communicative Language Teaching

Interpreting Communicative Language Teaching: Contexts and Concerns in Teacher Education

Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Interpreting Communicative Language Teaching
    Book Description:

    The emergence of English as a global language, along with technological innovations and the growing need for learner autonomy, is changing language teaching rapidly and profoundly. With these changes come new demands and challenges for teaching education programs.This authoritative collection of writings highlights some of the best work being done today in the United States and abroad to make communicative competence an attainable goal. The contributors examine what has come to be known as communicative language teaching, or CLT, from the perspectives of teachers and teacher educators.The book documents current reform initiatives in Japan, the United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and continental Europe to provide a global perspective on language teaching for communicative competence. Four major themes recur throughout the volume: the multifaceted nature of language teaching; the highly contextualized nature of CLT; the futility of defining a "native speaker" in the postcolonial, postmodern world; and the overwhelming influence of high-stakes tests on language teaching. The book is a useful and valuable tool for language teachers, teacher educators, and policymakers.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12907-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. ix-x)

    In the literature on communicative language teaching, or CLT, teacher education has not received adequate attention. My purpose in conceiving and editing this volume was to bring together a horizon-broadening variety of initiatives, projects, and activities related to teacher education that can make language teaching communicative in the broadest, most meaningful sense. The collection showcases some of the best work being done internationally to make CLT an attainable goal.

    Ordering the chapters was a challenge. Themes appear and reappear, voices heard in one text are echoed in another. These links and recurrences contribute significantly to the cohesion and strength of...

  4. 1 Communicative Language Teaching: Linguistic Theory and Classroom Practice
    (pp. 1-28)

    Communicative language teaching (CLT) refers to both processes and goals in classroom learning. The central theoretical concept in communicative language teaching is “communicative competence,” a term introduced into discussions of language use and second or foreign language learning in the early 1970s (Habermas 1970; Hymes 1971; Jakobovits 1970; Savignon 1971). Competence is defined in terms of theexpression, interpretation,andnegotiationof meaning and looks to both psycholinguistic and sociocultural perspectives in second language acquisition (SLA) research to account for its development (Savignon 1972, 1997). Identification of learners’ communicative needs provides a basis for curriculum design (Van Ek 1975).


  5. Part I Case Study:: Japan

    • 2 Teacher Education for Curricular Innovation in Japan
      (pp. 31-40)

      Since the decision in the mid-1980s of the national Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture of Japan (hereafter referred to as Mombusho) to emphasize the development of communicative competence in English language education in the Japanese school system, the central issue has remained the gap between the national government’s initiatives to promote innovation and the response of the Japanese teachers of English. In this chapter, I shall examine some key features of the implementation process.

      The design of the innovations that were introduced has become increasingly visible to outsiders who take an interest in English education in Japan. At the...

    • 3 Practical Understandings of Communicative Language Teaching and Teacher Development
      (pp. 41-81)

      Despite the theoretical development of communicative language teaching (CLT), understanding among practitioners remains limited (Sato and Kleinsasser 1999a). Moreover, a growing number of studies indicate that classrooms in which CLT is effectively used are rare. Nevertheless, little is known about why it is so difficult to implement CLT and how teachers learn to teach in various school contexts. With the exception of research on technical cultures by Kleinsasser (1989, 1993; also Kleinsasser and Savignon 1991), the question of how school contexts influence what teachers think and do and how teachers learn to teach remains unanswered (Freeman 1996). This chapter reports...

    • 4 Zen and the Art of English Language Teaching
      (pp. 82-88)

      My contribution to this collection of perspectives on communicative language teaching is my experience as a part-time teacher of English in private Japanese universities. I cannot claim to speak for all the universities in Japan, but only for those universities where I have taught during the past fifteen years. I began my teaching career in a conversation school when I was a senior in college, and I have been learning and growing ever since.

      To begin with, I am uncertain whether the fact that a university would hire a person like me to teach English is a good sign or...

  6. Part II Other Contexts

    • 5 The Washback Effect on Classroom Teaching of Changes in Public Examinations
      (pp. 91-111)

      Public examinations have often been used as instruments of control in the school system (Eckstein and Noah 1993; Herman 1992; Madaus 1988; Smith et al. 1990). In most societies, their relationship to the curriculum, teaching, and learning and their effect on individual opportunities in life are of vital importance. The current extensive use of examination scores for various educational and social purposes has made what is called “washback” a distinct educational phenomenon. According to Messick (1996, 241), “washback, a concept prominent in applied linguistics, refers to the extent to which the introduction and the use of a test influences language...

    • 6 National Standards and the Diffusion of Innovation: Language Teaching in the United States
      (pp. 112-130)

      In 1994, U.S. president Bill Clinton signed into law the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. The purpose of this act was to create national curricular standards in the subject areas of math, English, history, and science. These standards were designed to provide high expectations for all learners (Tucker and Codding 1998) and to serve as examples of excellence, an “objective ideal” that all learners can attain (Wiggins 1999).

      The first direct involvement of the federal government in the creation of curricular standards, Goals 2000 marked an important turning point in American educational history (Saxe 1999). Education in the United States...

    • 7 Innovative Teaching in Foreign Language Contexts: The Case of Taiwan
      (pp. 131-153)

      From a sociocultural perspective, language phenomena reflect contextual needs, which, together with learner needs, have implications for language teaching. These phenomena pertain to both language use and language learning; the former is a function of an interaction of attitude, function, context, and competence; the latter has to do with language educational systems, institutional practices, and learner beliefs and attitudes. Understanding these components that inform language use and learning is a prerequisite to any pedagogical innovation. To understand English language use and learning within the context of Taiwan, a study delineated a sociolinguistic profile of English use and learning within a...

    • 8 The Use of Technology in High-Enrollment Courses: Implications for Teacher Education and Communicative Language Teaching
      (pp. 154-164)

      The impact of technology on contemporary academic life is ubiquitous: it clings to the architecture of the academy like the ivy of old. Students register via computer for their classes; professors hold “virtual” office hours when they are available online to their students; e-mail correspondence is commonplace to the point that we refer to the other type as “snail mail.” And as institutions of higher learning attempt to cope with rapidly expanding enrollments and diminishing resources, it seems natural that they look to instructional technology for solutions. Distance education and Web-based instruction are changing the very nature of the traditional...

    • 9 Learner Autonomy and the Education of Language Teachers: How to Practice What Is Preached and Preach What Is Practiced
      (pp. 165-190)

      One afternoon at a university in the Netherlands, the graduate school of education is hosting a secondary school class and their teachers of English and French. In two simulated lessons, the teachers show their audience how they work and learn in their regular foreign language classes. Teacher trainees of English, German, French, and Spanish closely monitor the lessons, which are in many ways different from the language classes they are used to. It is an effort of the graduate school of education to engage the trainees in recent pedagogic approaches.

      The instructions given the class are concise but engaging. Subsequently...

  7. Part III Language Teacher Education for the Twenty-First Century

    • 10 Genres of Power in Language Teacher Education: Interpreting the “Experts”
      (pp. 193-207)

      At the beginning of the twenty-first century, language teacher education shows clear signs of crisis. Following decades of the rapid emergence of second language acquisition as a focus of ongoing research, prominent teacher educators have expressed increasing skepticism regarding the theorypractice dichotomy, a hierarchical distinction that emphasizes the primacy of theory and theoreticians. In rejecting that model, they cite the essentially ideological processes through which theories garner educators’ allegiance as well as the paucity of shared values and priorities between teachers on the one hand and theoreticians and researchers on the other. (For examples of this critique, see Clarke 1994;...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 208-212)

    In the preface to this volume I stated my purpose to be that of bringing together a collection of initiatives, projects, and activities to showcase some of the best work being done in places around the world to make communicative language teaching (CLT) an attainable goal. My efforts as editor were directed at reflecting the contextualized nature of CLT by preserving the unique perspective of individual authors in the particular context that they describe.

    Three chapters on Japan, individually and in concert, record the reality of CLT in that vibrant English language teaching setting. Nearby Hong Kong, a region that...

  9. References
    (pp. 213-232)
  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 233-234)
  11. Index
    (pp. 235-244)