viernes, 28 de septiembre de 2007

Romina nos manda este articulo para todos los Profesores de Ingles

Academic essay.
Limitations of Communicative language teaching in state run schools.
In the world of English language teaching (ELT), communicative language teaching (CLT) is a very valuable methodology which requires a wide range of realia, time and enough room to develop real life situations. The approach provides learners with the necessary tools to achieve communication. In the words of Richards and Rodgers (1984), the final characteristic of CLT is ''its learner-centered and experience-based view of second language teaching” (p. 68). However, its implementation in state run schools may have limitations, mainly because underpaid teachers need to work extra periods and cannot afford to spend too much time or money preparing their material; what is more, oversized classes might make matters worse. It is the purpose of the present essay to examine the factors which may restrain the applicability of CLT in state run schools.
Firstly, economic factors have undermined the education system, and logically CLT: teachers’ salaries, materials and conditions provided by schools, to mention a few. Argentinian teachers, mainly working at state run schools, are relatively underpaid. The electronic newspaper, “Educational international” published and article called “Argentina: Nation-wide teacher strike against police violence” (2007) in which the below statement was revealed:
The basic teacher salary can barely support a family of four. Furthermore, the cost of living and transportation varies greatly in different provinces. The inflation rate of nearly 10% in 2006 made the recent salary increase almost insignificant.(Education International 2007-04-11)
Hence teachers need a second or third teaching job; this situation decreases their time to prepare classes properly which also means less time to devout to classroom research. This is a very important aspect of CLT, in Nunan’s view (1990), (as cited in ERIC 2007) it means:
Research focuses on the learner looks at, for example, the developmental aspects of learner language, the learning styles and strategies used by different learners, the type of language prompted by various types of materials and pedagogic tasks, the classroom interaction that takes place between learners, and the effect of this interaction on learner language development.
The above mentioned research implies time and money at the teachers’ expenses. Consequently, research is not frequently done. Furthermore, teachers tend to use readily made texts and materials which are most probably not suitable for their students’ needs and prove to be non-communicative and ineffective. A major disadvantage of teaching in Argentina is that even though CLT favours the introduction of authentic materials and from life materials and language-based realia such as magazines, newspapers and graphic and visual sources from around which communicative activities might be constructed, financial constraints and the lack of these resources hinder the quality of education (Canale and Swain, 1980). As a result, if extra material is needed, the teachers are responsible for providing them; otherwise materials will be simply non-existent. No doubt, economy plays a major role in the choice of a teaching method.
Secondly, the allotted space and time provided by the Argentine’s curriculum does not seem sufficient to develop CLT. In terms of the time devoted to teaching English, Argentina’s law grants two periods a week, which are not enough to administer sufficient authentic communicative practice to all the students; as Brown (1992:3, p 15) notes,
In ESL situations English has official status, is used widely in government, is the medium of education, and is in widespread use in everyday life of the people. In contrast, (in EFL countries [such as Argentina]) English in official situations has low recognition and is used mainly for communication with foreigners….
Therefore, as Wenger (1998) pointed out, real-life situations should be recreated in the classrooms. Moreover, it is agreed that classrooms do not harmonize with the current needs; for example, the size of the classrooms is small to move around and many of them have desks attached to the floor, which brings difficulties when students are willing to work on teams, debates or role plays. Consequently, teachers’ efforts in bringing communication to the class are impaired by curriculum-imposed limitations.

Last, but not least, oversized classes also hinder the optimal development of CLT. According to Larsen-Freeman (1986) 'activities in the Communicative Approach are often carried out by students in small groups' (p. 132). Findings are consistent in demonstrating that crowded classrooms leave little time for everyone to communicate freely. Hence, when presenting debates, students with a high level of language proficiency are always the first to take control over the debates, thus leaving shy and lower level students behind. Another major problem is discipline; As Swan (1985) states: “since the activities require the full participation of the students and minimum participation from the teacher, the teacher may fear that he may lose control of the class” (p.76). There is a general belief that chaos is present every time the teachers move from the up-front position. Furthermore, the students may get carried away and become disruptive. Similarly, oversized classrooms are difficult to monitor when it comes to pair or group activities. A crowded class may not be altogether CLT friendly.

In sum, CLT can be seriously compromised in the state run educational setting, given adverse economic factors, restrictions imposed by the state and the presence of large classes. When it comes to reflecting on education in a developing country, it should be important that awareness be raised to counter, or at least minimize, the elements conspiring against a really valuable teaching method.
Works cited:
Brown, A. (1992). Twenty questions in approaches to pronunciation teaching. London: Macmillan.
Canale, M. and Swain,M. (1980). Applied linguistics, Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Oxford: Oxford University press.
Lee, X. Lee, H (2004) Oral communicative competence in TEFL.[On line] Retrieved April 2004, from
Larsen-Freeman, D. (1986). Techniques and principles in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
NCAA Educational international. (n.d.). Argentina: Nation-wide teacher strike against police violence. [On line] Retrieved April 11, 2007, from
Nunan, D. (1990) Second language classroom research ( ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 321550) .[On line] Retrieved 2007
Swan, M. (1985) A critical look at the communicative approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.

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