Simon Andrewes on new needs in the EFL classroom.

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Simon posited that, by comparing traditional and ‘newer’ course book series, we can identify a tangible shift from what he termed ‘classical communicative language teaching’ to ‘post-communicative language teaching’.

Simon explained that classical communicative language teaching centred on communication skills, with primacy on oral skills. The personal needs of a learner aspiring to function in a native speaker environment dominated, and language models are native speaker oriented. On the other hand, post communicative language teaching tends to focus on study skills, intercultural competence and critical thinking. The professional and academic needs of the learner dominate. There is a greater incidence of non-native speaker models, thus mirroring the position of English in the world as a Lingua Franca (ELF).

Simon gave a comprehensive description of the differences between courses based on a ‘classical’ communicative approach to ELT, and those driven by an ELF-oriented approach. He gave examples from both course-types in relation to some of the following areas: a user's profile; the aims of the courses from a perspective of language, communication, and competences; the nature of language and place for idiomatic expression; attitudes to correctness and register; cultural orientation and the role of the teacher. 

Although Simon felt that his labels for the two positions were rather vague at the moment, they nonetheless served their purpose. It might be that Simon rephrases his labels at some future point, but one thing is clear - the standard diet, for example, of assumptions and beliefs of the communicative approach seem to be mutating in favour of ELF-oriented materials. This reflects the needs of students in language classrooms in the twenty-first century.    

 

Comments

I couldn't have put it better myself. You are clearly an excellent and experienced conference goer with great listening and critical thinking skills! And it was nice and practically an honour to have you in my audience...
Annie McDonald's picture

It was an honour and luxury for me to be presented with an insightful bird's eye view of ELT. Just love overviews and trends, and your 'then' and 'now' details were very clear and convincing. Many thanks, Simon.

When I started university I wrote an essay and the lecturer said it presented 'an Olympian' view' - he explained I observed the subject matter from a great height. And it is a kind of fault, for I have little enthusiasm for getting involved in the nitty-gritty detail, which I think is essential to be a great teacher. But there you go...
Annie McDonald's picture

... somehow sounds grander than the bird's eye one, and someone's got to see it so great teachers can also get everything into perspective if they want or need to.

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