In the case of communicative language teaching, students do not know how to communicate using appropriate social language they have studied, so teachers need to engage them in all sorts of activities like: role playing, problem-solving tasks, discourses and so on, in order to practice some real-life communication problems with one another.
As for the direct method, teachers who use it think that a student has to learn how to think in the target language and then to be able to communicate successfully with others. They also think that students need first of all to associate the meaning with the target language. In order to do this, they use in class pictures, pantomime, sounds, gestures and so on, without translating a word into the student’s native language.
In the direct method students learn how to speak when they are given some real situations like the following: they are in England and they have to go shopping. They have no food and only some clothes for the summer and they have to handle this particular situation where they have to speak to the cashier and to the shop assistants.
The teacher and the learner’s roles in CLT and DM method :
The direct method was established in Germany and France around 1900 and the communicative language teaching began in Britain in the 1960s as a replacement to the earlier structural method, called Situational Language Teaching. Both methods resemble in the fact that they refrain from using the learners’ native language and just use the target language.
Their oral communication skills are built up in a carefully and progressive, they are both organized around question-and-answer exchanges between teachers and students in small but quite intensive classes.
To the extent of learning a foreign language through the communicative language teaching, students need to have some knowledge about linguistic forms, meanings, structures and functions.
The teacher is the developer or the promoter of student’s learning abilities. He manages all the activities in the classroom and he answers all the student’s questions, he is engaged in the conversations and he supports them all along.
On the other hand, with the direct method, the teacher uses first some evidence, he shows his students pictures, he has the role to make them understand the meaning of things; he explains them facts with the use of pantomime and so on.
One of the most conclusive characteristics of the CLT method is that all the activities are done communicatively and when they end, they also receive a feedback. Some other characteristics of this method are: the use of authentic materials, activities done in small groups of people, interaction between students is favored, etc. Same goes for the direct method too, the materials used (pictures, books, posters, bills, tickets and so on) should be authentic, to make students acquire new vocabulary words or phrases correctly in the target language.
When a goal of these methods is to teach students grammar or the ability to produce sentences structurally correct in a language, the direct method comes with an inductive approach (i.e. having learners find out rules through the presentation of adequate linguistic forms in the target language) same goes for the communicative approach where students formulate the rules themselves (inductive learning) rather than teachers (deductive learning). Learners should not be overwhelmed with linguistic terminology (Brown, 2001), grammar rules will be clearer and be remembered better if they are taught in digestible segments bearing the cognitive process in mind.
How a lesson is taught by using the Direct Method ( also known as the Natural Method) :
Small groups of intensive language learning are made: in the classroom, the instructions are held only in the target language, the everyday vocabulary is used and sentences from real life are taught. Teachers base their lesson on oral communication skills which are progressive and graded. Exercises revolve around question-and-answer exchanges between students and their teacher.
Grammar is taught, as I have already said before, inductively, while the vocabulary part is taught throughout the use of object or pictures, through demonstrations and the abstract vocabulary is taught by associating ideas.
The teacher pays a good deal of attention to the students’ pronunciation and errors, which should not appear.
How a lesson is taught by using the Communicative Language Teaching Method (CLT) :
When talking about the composition of a group, the same goes for CLT : small and intensive groups of learners are made and instructions are held in the target language. The teacher bases his lesson on oral and visual approach; he can use some cards or pictures to make his students understand some notions. He can make an introduction in the target language using gestures to make students learn how to greet one another. Furthermore, later during this lesson, the teacher can play a type at the recorder. Students can listen to it to hear the pronunciation and then to make an oral conversation.
As the meaning of words is not sufficient nowadays to learn a language, grammar (which is taught explicitly) must a be a part of CLT. While speaking or introducing new concepts in class, the teacher has to focus and pay more attention to the meaning and to the form of the sentences.
The two methods resemble in terms of: group formation, oral approach, attention to pronunciation and emphasis on conversation.
Differences between the DM and CLT :
Regarding the Direct Method – the teacher acts like partner for the student, in the Communicative Approach we find out that the teacher is a facilitator of the student.
In the DM vocabulary is emphasized more than grammar, while in CLT language functions are emphasized more than forms.
The first method tries to establish a direct link between the target language and learning, while the second method, stands out through the emphasize of linguistic forms, functions and meanings.
The DM considers that its most important skill is listening to apprehend information rather than speaking which is emphasized most by the communicative approach.
In the Direct Method, learners are active participants along with the teacher, and they self-correct their mistakes whenever possible. In the Communicative Approach, learners are the communicators and their mistakes are seen as being purely natural, as being an outcome in the development of the communication skill.
When talking about grammar, the difference between DM and CLT is that in the Direct Method grammar is taught inductively while on the other side, grammar is taught explicitly.
Similarities between the DM and CLT :
First of all I should mention that the aim of both methods is reaching language for communication. The students’ native language is never used in classroom activities. Each of them are using target language while having classroom activities.
The similarity found in these activities is that each method emphasizes on the interaction between student-student, while the teacher may ask the students to practice their written skill as well.
Secondly, and maybe one of the most important similarity between these methods is that they both work on all the four skills : reading, writing, speaking and listening. Their activities are based on culture, on everyday facts or on daily lives of people.
Weakness and strength of the Direct Method :
The Direct Method pays attention on speaking and interaction between students and teacher, and pays less attention to other skills like reading, writing or comprehension.
It is also called The Natural Method because it teaches students in the same way they were taught L1, but it has no scientific basis.
The Direct Method is based more on sounds principles so misunderstanding of words or phrases may appear in the process of learning a language correctly.
Another inconvenient of this method is that teacher doesn’t spend so much time explaining grammar issues or making up exercises for their students – so all this verbalizing skill may not apply when talking about the level of maturity of a child or his intelligence capacity.
Weakness and strength of the Communicative Language Approach:
In the Communicative Language Approach, learners learn by being involved into the communicative tasks with little support from traditional teaching text and practice.
Same as the DM, the CLT focuses more on activities, texts, exercises and tasks which emphasize the speaking and listening skills, writing skills are left aside.
Students also need some supportive vocabulary for functional language use but it gives little guidance about how to handle vocabulary. As an example, in Romanian schools, CLT is more successful in learning English as a Second Language because students usually have a very supportive learning environment outside school (movies, songs, TV series, Facebook, and so on) . And also they have more chances to be exposed to the authentic contact with native speakers and the target language, which reinforces what they learn in class.
Besides, they have the motivation to work on oral English because they need it in their lives.
A critical appraisal of the Community Language Learning Method ( CLL ) :
Community Language Learning (CLL) is the name of a method developed by Charles A Curran who was a specialist in counseling and a professor of psychology at Loyola University, Chicago. He said that adults feel threatened by learning a new language because in this process they might look foolish to others. Being aware of people’s needs, Charles A. used his psychological counseling techniques to teach languages.
What does “counseling” mean? -> It means when one person gives advice, assistance, and support to another person who has a problem or is in some way in need.
It is said that CLL is mostly used in the introductory conversation courses in a foreign language. The assumption seems to be that through the method, the teacher can successfully transfer native-like pronunciation in the target language to the learners.
This method is most often used in the teaching of oral practices – mainly: teaching students how to use the language communicatively, to learn about their own leaning process and also to be responsible for it. CLL may also be used in the teaching of writing because it does not use a conventional language syllabus, which sets out in advance the grammar, vocabulary, and other language items. All these grammatical and lexical patterns are sometimes isolated by the teacher for more detailed study and analysis.
To fulfill their objective, CLL teachers use the following methods of teaching and learning activities:
Translation – where a learner whispers a message of what he wants to express and then the teacher translates it into the target language having the students repeat after him
Group Work – where the learners engage in various group tasks, such as small-group discussion of a topic, preparing a conversation, preparing a story that will be presented to the teacher and the rest of the class.
Recording – in which students record conversations in the target language.
Transcription – where students transcribe the conversations they have recorded for practice of linguistic forms.
Analysis – in which students analyze and then study transcriptions of target language to focus on particular lexical usage or on grammar rules.
Reflection and observation – in which learners reflect and report on their experience of the class, as a class or in groups
Listening – in which students listen to the teacher’s monologue in order not to overhear words in class interactions.
Free conversation – where the students engage in free conversations with the teacher or with other learners in the target language.
The learner’s role:
In Community Language Learning, learners become members of a community – mainly, they get to learn by interacting with members of the community. In this method, the learning process is not viewed as an individual accomplishment but as something that is achieved throughout collaboration. Learners are expected to listen to the teacher, to provide meanings they wish to express, to repeat some structures, to support their colleagues and to become counselors to the other learners.
CLL students are usually grouped in a circle of six to twelve members; in this group there are also a couple of knowers who can help them. In their language development, students are encouraged to express their feelings, emotions and to tell their disappointments.
CLL practice is similar to the stages of human growth. In stage 1 the student depends completely on his teacher, exactly as a child depends on his mother. The student repeats the phrases made by the teacher in the target language. In stage 2 the student begins to establish his own language independency by using simple words or phrases. In stage 3, he begins to understand other people directly in the target language and no longer needs assistance. And in stage 4 the student’s grammatical and lexical functions become independent even though he doesn’t possess a rich knowledge of the language.
The teacher’s role:
The teacher’s initial role is that of a counselor. This means that he recognizes how threatening is learning a new language, especially for adults, so he supports them in their struggle to master the target language. This matter may be seen as one of the advantages of CLL because it helps people overcome their negative feelings and turn them into some positive ones in their further learning.
The teacher is responsible for providing a safe environment in which his students are able to learn and grow. Learners, feeling secure, are free to direct their energies to the tasks of communication and learning rather than to building a defensive positions.
Teachers want their students to learn how to use a language communicatively. They also want for their students to learn about their own learning skills, to be aware of this process. For a better practice students need to take an increasing responsibility for their own learning and to communicate with colleagues in the group in order to learn from one another.
In CLL it is said that only six elements are necessary for a non-defensive learning:
Security – assures a non-threatening learning environment.
Aggression – makes them actively involved in the learning experience.
Attention – is an ability to acquire simultaneously information.
Reflection – comes when students are asked to think over what the teacher said.
Retention – is the digestion of new material that comes into language.
Discrimination – is like a Human Computer- it sorts out differences among target language and other languages.
And only five stages to follow during a lesson:
In Reflection, Recorded conversation and Discussion – the teacher focuses not only on the target language but also on paying more attention and being more supportive with his students while the learning process takes place.
When reaching the Transcription stage, students are more confident in themselves and have a greater security when they start talking, so the teacher can correct them and also focus more on the accuracy and fluency.
In the last two stages – Transcription and Language analysis – the teacher focuses more on writing, translations, on acquiring vocabulary and grammar rules better .
Materials needed in CLL :
Since a CLL course tries to emphasize the evolution in communication evolves out of the students who are part of a community, a textbook is not the first material which a teacher has in mind. In our case a textbook would only impose straight language content for the learners and it would be impeding their growth in language and interaction. Materials may be developed by the teacher as the course takes place. Summaries may be written on the blackboard or may be projected and in terms of conversation, it may be transcribed and analyzed by students. Learners may work in groups to produce their own materials such as dialogs.
Some advantages of CLL:
I may say that there are advantages and disadvantages to a method like CLL. We have some affective advantages relating to the security of learning a language.
What I like about this method is that the teacher who understands his student fears and who is sensitive to them can help students overcome their negative feelings and turn them into positive energy for their learning.
Another thing that I like about it would be that by giving students the choice of what to say and when to say it, students would be in a good position to take responsibility for their own learning and to be well aware of this process.
That is why the teacher allows the students to determine the type of conversation and to analyze the foreign language inductively.
I may say that later on, after students feel more secure, the teacher might emphasize some particular grammar points, pronunciation patterns, and vocabulary to anchor them better in their minds. But the most important skill is understanding and speaking the language at the beginning with reinforcement through reading and writing after a period of time when acquisition may be seen.