Once, when I needed to sign a document, I borrowed a pen from a person very dear to me. I immediately felt something was wrong. My handwriting wasn’t flowing naturally and I wondered what was up with the pen. That’s when I saw a 6-point white star on the top. The owner of the pen must have read some sort of criticism in my eyes, “I know cheap Biros will do the work just as well…” “Or better,” I interjected, glancing at what looked like a forged version...

“Relax,” many teachers tell students, “if you have communicated, it’s all right.” Indeed. What is it, however, that counts as effective communication? At what moment can we chill out knowing we have done a good job in communicating? For some teachers, communication is getting your message across. It doesn’t matter if the learner has made mistakes, if the listener has had to pay very close attention, if understanding the learner demanded many turns of negotiation. In sharp contrast, there are people who will maintain learners don’t need ‘to communicate’ only....

I was talking to a teacher the other day. He had just completed his CELTA course with a grade B although he had already been teaching for a couple of years beforehand. A nice chap all in all, and very enthusiastic. I am not sure how, but after the initial chit-chat which broke the ice, we got on to talking about 'communicativeness'. He had a pretty sure idea what it was all about. Controlled practice was 'uncommunicative'. Not only this, but controlled practice was also mechanical and largely meaningless....