When the communicative approach doesn’t fly

Apparently there was a bit of a stir at this year’s IATEFL conference when Jocelyn Wang, the head of teacher development at China’s largest private English language teaching organization, “defeated” Jim Scrivener’s defense of the Communicative Approach.

Ms Wang’s argument was essentially that Chinese students expect to come to class and for the teacher to impart knowledge (lexical items, etc) that they can then go home and memorize. Spending time “communicating” in class is seen as time wasted; because of this attitude, students will not engage and thus ensure that time is indeed wasted. For a more thorough retelling of her argument, please read the summary of her argument in the GL Gazette.

Forgive us for drawing a line between this and one of our products. At one point, Ms. Wang says that Chinese students’ fear of mistakes keeps them from speaking. We do not think that Chinese students are alone in this and we have argued before that the Communicative Approach does ask students to start producing language quite quickly with not  much prior exposure to the language/structure. We really do think that this is one of the great benefits of EnglishCentral.com for students. As it is used primarily as self-access (many IEPs use it as homework for their students), students have the opportunity to see and listen to language models as many times as they want. They can then, on their own schedule and without anyone witnessing them, practice speaking. And of course, they can stay motivated by choosing what interests them from thousands of authentic videos available.

Find out more about using EnglishCentral.com with your students! Email Calin – SalesandMarketing@englishcentral.net.