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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Example of Argumentative Essay

The Effectiveness of Using CLT in the Classroom

Historically, in the early 70's a new approach was developed to focus more on student’s production based on a different theory of language acquisition. The theory behind this is that students want to communicate and that dialogues should be based on real life situations. The material used should be authentic and meaningful. It is also believed that in order to communicate in the target language the speaker should have more than just linguistic competence but also communicative competence. This theory produced the approach that we know today as Communicative Language Teaching. (Applebaum, 2007)
 Nowadays, CLT has become a debatable topic among teachers to be applied in the classroom. Some agree it can be applied affectively for teaching second or foreign language and some do not. In this essay, I want to confront some arguments that support an idea that CLT is an effective method to be applied in the classroom based on several reasons.
Though CLT is considered effective, Alenoosh (2009), an English teacher wrote on her blog that one of the disadvantages of CLT is it focuses on fluency not accuracy. She said that the approach does not focus on error reduction but instead creates a situation where learners are left to use their own devices to solve their communication problem. Thus, they may produce incoherent, grammatically incorrect sentence.
            In contrast, Rebecca Belchamber (2007) argued that the extent of some of the structures or function may never be used in real life. She said that some grammatical rules that are taught such as adjectives order is unnatural because mostly we just combine two or three adjectives. Then although there is a concept that students as center of learning in CLT approach, it does not mean that they are un-structured. There is a lot of preparation; accuracy is needed to enable a fluency activity. Thus, in CLT implementation, the teacher should equip students with vocabulary, structures, and function, as well as strategies in order the students can be successful to interact with each other. In line with Belchamber, Richards also stated:
CLT sets as its goals the teaching of communicative competence. What does this term mean? Perhaps we can clarify this term by first comparing it with the concept of grammatical competence. Grammatical competence refers to the knowledge we have of a language that accounts for our ability to produce sentences in a language. It refers to knowledge of the building blocks of sentences (e.g. parts of speech, tenses, phrases, clauses, sentence patterns) and how sentences are formed. Grammatical competence is the focus of many grammar practice books, which typically present a rule of grammar on one page, and provide exercises to practice using the rule on the other page. The unit of analysis and practice is typically the sentence. While grammatical competence is an important dimension of language learning, it is clearly not all that is involved in learning a language since one can master the role of sentence formation in a language and still not be very successful at being able to use the language for meaningful communication. It is the latter capacity which is understood by the term communicative competence.
(2008: 2-3)

So that, Richards has emphasized that even one can master grammatical competence but it cannot ensure that he/she can use the language for meaningful communication. In addition, the importance in learning a language is not only to master all grammatical rules but also to communicate. And, it has become a characteristic of CLT that accuracy is learned in context. Thus, by using this approach, students still can master both competences at once while learning.

Next, Jeff (2007), an English teacher in China, said:
It seems that there are some constraints in using CLT in different countries. In English-speaking countries, CLT can be effective because these countries provide learners with real environment to use English and comprehensible input so that learners can acquire English and develop their communicative competence in a sub-conscious way. While in China, due to some constraining factors, CLT has posed some challenges to Chinese English learners.

What Jeff said shows the difficulty in applying CLT in non-native English country. He found that CLT is not an effective method because of the environmental reason.
In other point of view, David McKenzie (2006) said that CLT makes students become more productive and their motivation to use the target language will improve. It is reasonable because one of the CLT characteristics is:
Students in a communicative class ultimately have to use the language, productively and receptively, in unrehearsed context outside the classroom. Classroom tasks must therefore equip students with the skills necessary for communication in those contexts. (Brown, 2001: 43)

Therefore, by using CLT students are highly motivated to use the target language as much and communicative as possible. In the learning process, students are helped by the teacher in any way that motivates them to work with the language (Richards and Rogers, 1986:68). So that, there is no environmental problem, actually, to apply CLT approach in the classroom. Communicative competence as the desired goal of CLT does not mean it insist students to communicate without considering their ability to produce the language. Language is created by the individual often through trial and error. Moreover, learning activities (task-based activities) such as role play, games, and simulation will make students enjoy the lesson and ask them to produce the target language creatively.
In conclusion, I want to summarize that CLT is an effective approach for teaching second or foreign language. Although fluency is the primary goals in CLT, it does not mean that the importance of accuracy or grammatical competence is ignored. Accuracy is not learned in the abstract but in context. Then, CLT can motivate students to be more productive and highly motivated in using the target language. These are the reasons why I really agree with the statement that CLT is an effective approach to be applied in the classroom.

Allenoosh. (2009). Communicative Language Teaching – Disadvantages. Retrieved June 15, 2010, from: English CafĂ©.com

Applebaum, Bruce. (2008). Communicative Language Teaching: Theory, Practice, and Personal Experience. Retrieved June 15 2010.

Belchamber, Rebecca. (2007). The Advantages of Communicative Language Teaching. Retrieved June 15, 2010, from: The Internet TESL Journal.

Brown, H.Doughlas. (2001). Teaching by Principles, An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. New York: Longman.

Jeff. (2007). A Critical Review on Communicative Language Teaching. Retreived June 15, 2010.

McKenzie, David. (2006). What is CLT?  Retrieved June 15, 2010, from: Language Matter.

Richards, Jack C. (2008). Communicative Language Teaching Today. Retrieved June 15, 2010.

Richards, Jack C. and Theodore S. Rodger. (1986). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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