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2.4.4 Communicative Approach and Competence in language teaching The Communicative language teaching (CLT) approach became more popular as educators acknowledged its strength to develop learners’ communicative skills. Noam Chomsky was among the first to demonstrate that there should be a shift from the mastery of grammatical structures to greater communicative proficiency. Hymes (1972) further advanced the theory and stated that the developing of communicative competence was the goal of language teaching, implying the acquisition of both the ability and knowledge to use language. Hedge (2000:44) observes that communicative competence also encompasses the relation to the psychological, cultural and social rules, which regulate the use of language and the understanding of its linguistic forms.
Lightbown and Spada (2006:196) define CLT as learners’ ability to efficiently express what they mean in the target language and successfully achieve communications in reallife situations. Richard and Rodgers (1986:71) suggest that CLT incorporates grammar translation, audio-lingual methods, communicative language teaching and the natural approach and could therefore rather be considered an approach, than a method.
The researcher’s view is that, when using traditional teaching methods, such as grammar translation methods, lecturers spend a substantial amount of time on drilling grammar pattern rules and learners have to repeat these patterns until the work is fully understood. The CLT approach encourages learners to practise structures through activities, such as group work and pair work within the language learning classroom.
This affords the lecturer time to move unobtrusively among the learners, giving help or guidance where needed, but without learners feeling inhibited to use their newly learnt language skills.
Hymes (1972), complemented by others, suggests a list of communicative competences,
and includes the following:
Linguistic or grammatical competence. This refers to a set of grammatical rules • to guide the formation of sentences, (Hedge, 2000:46).
Not all learners are interested in the language rules and lecturers have to encourage their understanding of not only these grammatical rules, but also their exceptions. English second or foreign language lecturers have a great task to encourage learners to use their newly learnt language skills, by giving them enough time for conversation in the classroom.
Lecturers should be mindful that learners will also acquire language through social interaction within the classroom, as well as with their external world.
Additional reading material, with interesting subjects, could be a useful tool to get learners to improve their reading skills, as well as English language comprehension.
Discourse competence. Learners are supposed to distinguish between various • discourses in order to use grammar accurately and communicate fluently.
Hedge (2000:50) proposes discourse analysis as an approach to analysing discourses when communicating with others, with reference to sentences, speech acts and turns-at-talk.
Lecturers should draw learners’ attention to the fact that the development of discourse competence leads to the forming of meaningful sentences and affording learners opportunities to interact socially and practise their English language skills with more accuracy and fluency.
Strategic competence. The learners’ critical and creative minds help them to • strategise knowledge for the effective and appropriate use of language. Hedge (2000:52) suggests that strategic competence acts as mediator between the learners’ internal language knowledge and the awareness of the external social and cultural context when communicating.
Lecturers should constantly encourage learners to engage in speaking activities with other learners in the English language classroom, in order for these learners to become less self-conscious.
Fluency. Hedge (2000:54) added fluency to the list, stating that it implies • coherent communications in terms of the appropriate use of linking devices, intelligible pronunciation and correct intonation, insisting that CLT emphasises comprehensibility and not accuracy.
Lecturers should at times tolerate errors, as this creates a sense of comfort and self-confidence on the part of learners who might not possess the necessary practical competence, but enjoy practising newly acquired skills in the English language classroom.
According to the researcher, the above CLT provides quite a holistic approach to language teaching, as it incorporates active learner participation, knowledge construction and individual and collective discovery of problems, as well as finding of solutions to problems by the language learners.
220.127.116.11 Cooperative language learning Cooperative learning (CL) is defined by Richards and Rodgers (2001), as group work structured in a way to enable learners to interact and exchange information cooperatively, rather than promoting competition in language learning.
The three vital variables for language learning as proposed by Krashen (1985) and Kagan (1995) are input, output and context.
• Input. According to Krashen’s Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theory (1985), for second or foreign language learning to occur, there needs to be input, or constant exposure to the target language, in this case English.
For language learning to occur, lecturers have to expose learners to enough opportunities within the classroom to practise their communicative skills and also encourage them to engage in English conversation with other native speakers as often as the opportunity arises. For the purpose of this study, Krashen’s theory implies immersion in the target language to maximise acquisition and this will be provided by the native English lecturer in the classroom.
• Output. If speech is not functional, learners will not benefit from it.
Lecturers once again serve as the facilitators to encourage learners to use the language in as natural a setting as possible, in order for language learning to be effective. This can be done during classroom session doing group or pair-work, and where the lecturer can monitor the situation. It could therefore be concluded that communication (output) by the language learner, produces language acquisition.
• Context. Kagan (1995) suggests that another factor that fosters language acquisition or learning, is a supportive, friendly, motivating, communicative, developmentally appropriate and feedback rich context. Further to that: Kagan (1995) also suggests various pointers for lecturers to employ in order to create a supportive learning atmosphere, that promotes asking relevant questions; group work or pair-work; praise, support and encouragement; and awareness of what fellow learners know.
Language learners will acquire the target language, in this case English, if they are given the opportunity in the classroom to communicate about real objects and events meaningful to them.
The lecturer who facilitates the communicative language teaching variables, namely input, output and context will achieve language acquisition by the learners.
2.4.5 Experience elsewhere about cognitive styles Language acquisition and development are made possible by a person’s conceptual systems, governed by his or her intricately linked neural connections in the brain. Taylor (1995) notes that: “Language, being at once both the creation of human cognition and an instrument in its service, is thus more likely than not to reflect, in its structure and functioning, more general cognitive abilities.” This seems to indicate that humans are born with certain cognitive learning capabilities that are genetically transmitted. This is noteworthy, and as this study is dealing with language acquisition of the adult learner, it has captured the necessary attention in this study.
Escribano (2004) in a study of a group of Spanish speaking engineering students at a Madrid university, learning English for Science and Technology (EST), he concludes that rather the difference in background knowledge, than the language level, accounted for the main reason for distorted interpretation and comprehension of text. The more advanced engineering students, with prior knowledge of the situation, scored better and the differences in language levels, in this instance, were insignificant.
This theory was tested in this study to see if it would be supported or rejected.
2.5 Defining motivation Various studies indicate that motivation plays a prominent role in second language learning achievement and in influencing language learning strategies (Gardner and Smythe, 1975; Crookes and Schmidt, 1991; Oxford and Shearin, 1994). It is not always easy to identify and study a learner’s motivation, especially in a large multicultural classroom. As Cook (1996) notes, if ‘atmosphere’ or ‘culture’ gets added to the mixture, the behaviour of particular learners can be affected at this particular time. The researchers feels strongly that the role and influence of the lecturer to motivate learners in second language acquisition, can never be underestimated, as some learner my react positively towards encouragement from the lecturer. The lecturers’ perspectives of the subject matter, as well as their abilities to integrate learners from difference nationalities and backgrounds, may influence learning in the classroom. Lecturers have an obligation to treat all language learners equally, irrespective of cultural differences or nationality. If learners are not fully integrated and not made to feel part of the second language learning classroom, learners might feel alienated and de-motivated to study.
Richards, Platt and Platt (1992:238) define motivation as “the factors that determine a person’s desire to do something.” They refer to “instrumental motivation” and “integrative motivation” in second and foreign language learning. Instrumental motivation is useful for certain “instrumental” goals, such as getting employment or passing an examination. With integrative motivation there is an internal drive to learn a foreign language in order to communicate with people from other cultures. Crookes and Schmidt (1991), Gardner and Macintyre (1993), Dornyei (1994), Gardner and Tremblay (1994) and Oxford and Shearin (1994), among others, more recently reverted to the basic task of defining motivation in second language acquisition and suggested further study to strengthen the theoretical basis from various perspectives. This was further explored in this study, in examining the sub question number three in subsection 18.104.22.168, to determine if differences between male and female learners’ desire, or internal drive to acquire English, can be attained.
Therefore, the lecturer needs to know and understand the learners’ goals and motivation towards acquiring English as a second or foreign language, in order for the learning to result in a positive outcome.
2.5.1 Instrumental motivation According to Hudson (2000) instrumental motivation can be defined as ‘the desire to obtain something practical or concrete from the study of a second language’.
Underlying this is the learners’ goal to gain some social reward (encouragement from the lecturer or family members) or economic reward (a promotion or salary increase at work) for L2 achievement and refers to a more functional reason for language learning.
The intensity, with which learners are involved in a learning activity, indicates how motivated they are to learn. The extent of their involvement however, depends on their experience of the subject matter and on the meaning they allocate to the material. As a prominent researcher in the field of second language acquisition, Gardner (1985) identified motivation in general, though relevant to second language learning, as the single most influential factor in achieving this goal. Mowrer, (as cited in Larson-Freeman and Long, 1994) suggests that children’s success in learning a first language to gain family identity and that of the community at large, influenced Gardner’s work on motivation.
Lecturers should be aware in the classroom not to reward the good language learner with higher mark and verbal praise, or punish the language learners who scored lower marks, in order for learners not to become frustrated or de-motivated to study.
2.5.2 Integrative motivation Integrative motivation can be defined as the natural, inherent drive to seek out new challenges. In other words, in language acquisition, it is characterised by the learners’ positive attitudes towards the target language group and the desire to integrate into the target language community. According to Crookes and Schmidt (1991) motivation has been identified as the learner’s orientation with regard to the goal of learning a second or foreign language. Falk (1978, as cited in Norris-Holt, 2001:3) points out that, “students who are most successful when learning a target language, are those who like the people that speak that language, admire the culture, and have a desire to become familiar with or even integrate into the society in which the language is used.” The Qataris, as well as other nationalities studying English at the language centre, all have the desire to acquire the target language with the intention of becoming fluent enough to find employment, to study abroad, or simply to use English as the language of communication in society.