Online Lessons – Using Communicative Language Teaching – Part 2
Coronavirus day 3.648:
It feels like that, right? At least, it does for me.
Since this has all begun and we started teaching remotely, I have been re-reading all my academic books, trying to find various other approaches and/or methods for dealing with “emergency remote teaching” in a way that lessons will be meaningful, not only to students but also (and mostly) parents. As you well know by now, we are now teaching a second language to a larger scale. We are reaching families, which means we have to focus on the target we want the students (and families) to achieve. It is very difficult for us, language teachers, but less is more, right now.
One of the points that got me thinking was: how do I make them use the language in a communicative way through distance? How will I measure that? Because otherwise, we are just teaching vocabulary or grammar points, for written purposes, which is ok but until when?
That’s when I started re researching the “communicative Language teaching” that focuses on interaction as the means and goal of study. In this case, language is taught through situations and context, the heart being basic structures that are key to achieve a successful exchange. In other words, this approach measures the abstract abilities a learner has that will enable them to utter grammatically accurate sentences in any language.
Linking that to our current situation, I understand that we use the communicative approach, teaching only basic structures in a very clear and meaningful context in order to make students use the language. For instance, in a lesson where were supposed to teach “how to order food in restaurants” that can be changed to “how to order food in apps in English” (so switching Ifood, uber eats and Rappi to English in their phones) and then use the communicative approach for “your meal has been taking too long, you have to call the restaurant and ask what happened” or “you changed your mind, you should call the restaurant to change your order” or “you have the wrong address, you have to call the restaurant and change that”.
To measure that, students would have to record themselves making the call, after the lesson full of practice and examples, as consolidation work, and send you the audio file via email, WhatsApp, Google Classroom, or any other platforms you wish to use.
You can use an oral assessment chart, to assess if students are using what was asked of them (then again, online instructions have to be twice (or three times) as clear as the face-to-face ones).
I have tried the above in my 6th-grade lesson (almost 100) students in a regular school, and it worked perfectly well. The results of this work I will be able to collect only later, I’m afraid, when we get back to face-to-face lessons and see if they are using language effectively.
Richards, J. & Rodgers, T. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. CUP.
And my own experience in class.