Communicative activities

Communicative language teaching was developed by teachers and applied linguists as a response to the shortcomings of the audiolingual and grammar translation methods. one of the distinctive points of communicative language teaching is the focus on communicative activities that promote language learning. These  activities use real life situations to trigger communication. They encourage and require a learner to speak with and listen to other learners. Communicative activities have real purposes such as finding and exchanging information, breaking down barriers, talking about oneself, and learning about culture.

Advantages of communicative activities

  • Learning is maximized when students are engaged in relevant tasks within a dynamic learning environment instead of  traditional teacher-centered classes.
  • Real life communication is the target. learners are trained not only to be linguistically competent but also  communicatively and sociolinguistically competent.
  • Communicative activities are motivating. Learning is achieved while learners are having fun.

Characteristics of communicative activities

  • The success of a communicative activity can be determined by the extent to which learners are dependent on the teacher. Tasks should be devised in a manner that learners gain autonomy and independence while learning.
  • The role of the teachers is to give clear and to the point instructions and provide the appropriate environment for learners to interact and exchange information.
  • Communicative activities are motivating. Learners should be at ease and have fun while doing the communicative tasks.
  • Communicative tasks are realistic. Real communication situations should be the focus instead of isolated structures with no real-life reference.
  • While in teacher-led classrooms learners were expected to be quiet and listen to the teacher and then, when asked, to respond to the teacher in unison with the one
    correct answer, communicative tasks require learners to take initiatives and provide their responses ( instead of a response) to contribute to the success of learning.
  • Communicative activities are meaningful: they are carried out to fulfil specific purposes such as booking a plane, hotel ticket, inviting somebody to a party, answering  an invitation letter, shopping….
  • Performance in communicative tests reflects an underlying competence that is linguistic, sociolinguistic, pragmatic, strategic…Communicative activities should consider this multi-dimensional nature of language.

Examples of communicative activities

  1. Information gap.
    This involves two (or more) learners. Each testee has part of the information. They have to negotiate in order to get the missing information. A clear context must be specified for the test.
  2. Letter writing.
    learners may be asked to write, for example, a business letter to ask for information or to respond to a complaint by a customer
  3. Note taking.
    Testees are involved in a listening activity in which they have to take notes and, for example, write a report.