Topic 14 – Methods and techniques aimed at the acquisition of communication skills. Specific methodological foundations for teaching English.

Topic 14 – Methods and techniques aimed at the acquisition of communication skills. Specific methodological foundations for teaching English.

Following the bellwether provided by linguistic theories of the last few decades, language teaching has undergone a shift from the mastery of language use to the mastery of language structures. Before attempting an analysis of the current approach “The Communicative Language Teaching” CLT. It would be worthwhile to examine the concept of method and how it has been interpreted by different authors.

In the 1960´s Mackey proposed a model of conceptualizing the methods and techniques in language teaching. There are four basic concepts in his model. Selection of what is being taught; gradation or order in which we are going to study; presentation of the materials and contents and repetition ( practice). Halliday´s model was pretty similar to mackey´s but it used the terms limitation, grading, presentation and testing.

In 1964 a American linguist, Edward Anthony developed a comprehensible model in which he identified three levels of conceptualization and organization in hierarchical order. Approach was defined as a set of correlative assumptions about the nature of learning and the nature of language. A method is an overall plan for the presentation of language material in order. Technique is what actually takes place in the classroom.

In 2001 Richards and Rogers revised and extended Antonýs model. For them a methods is theoretically related to an approach, organized by a design and practically realized in procedure.

Following this last model we are going to analyze in detail each of the levels.

  1. APPROACH ( theories on nature of language and nature of language teaching).

Regarding the nature of language there are namely three perspectives.

● Structuralist: language is seen as a system of structural related items and foreign language learning or mastery relies on the learning of these units and their relationship. Audio lingual method, TPR and silent way methods embodied this view.

● Interactional: understand language as a vehicle for the realization of interpersonal relations and performance of social transactions. Charles A Currant based his Community language learning in this concept.

● Functional: the semantic and communicative dimensions of language are emphasized because language is seen as a vehicle for the expression of meaning.

The second element in an approach is the nature of language learning in which psycholinguistic and cognitive processes involved in language learning are analyzed. Two different processes are involved. The former place emphasis on habit formation ( behaviouristic and structuralist views) and strategies whereas the latter highlights the importance of the context or environment in which learning takes place ( cognitivism and input hypothesis).


It is the level of method analysis in which the objectives, the syllabus and the types of learning and assessment activities are described, together with the specifications on the role of the teacher, the learners and the materials.

2.1 OBJECTIVES: Our Royal Decree on the Improvement of Quality on Education ( henceforth LOMCE) establishes as the main objective of primary education the achievement of Communicative Competence in order to enable students to understand and produce simple messages and interact in real life situations. Objectives are grouped into general objectives of the primary stage and specific objectives for the are of English language. They are listed as follows:

The general objectives at this stage refer to the capacities pupils have to develop in all subjects :

a. Learn about and appreciate the values and norms of co-existence. Learn how to function in accordance with these values and norms, prepare themselves for the active role of citizenship and show respect for human rights as well as the pluralism that is part of democratic society.

b. Develop work habits as an individual and within a team. Also promote study habits in terms of effort and responsibility, as well as self-confidence, a critical capacity, personal initiative, curiosity, interest and creativity as a learner, and entrepreneurship.

c. Acquire techniques to prevent or resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner so that learners can behave independently within their family and home life or within their social groups.

d. Learn about, understand and show respect for various cultures and the differences between people; equal rights and opportunities between men and women; and the non-discrimination of disabled people.

e. Learn about and correctly use Castilian or the co-official language, if one exists, of the Autonomous Community. Promote reading habits.

f. Acquire, in at least one foreign language, basic communicative skills that allows them to express and understand simple messages and manage in day to day situations.

g. Develop basic maths skills and begin to solve problems involving the four basic operations, geometry and estimations. Be able to apply this knowledge in everyday life.

h. Understand the basic characteristics of Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Geography, History and Culture.

i. Gain initial practice in using information and communication technologies as a learning tool. Develop critical skills towards the messages The pupils receive and produce.

j. Use different forms of artistic representation and expression and gain initial practice in developing visual and audiovisual proposals.

k. Value hygiene and health; accept their own and other peoples’ bodies, show respect for differences; and use physical education and sport as a way of boosting personal and social development.

l. Learn about and value the animals closest to human beings and behave in a way that is conducive to their well-being.

m. Develop emotional capacities in all aspects of their personality and in their relationship with others, opposing violence, all kinds of prejudice and sexist stereotypes.

n. Promote road safety and considerate attitudes, which go hand in hand with the prevention of traffic accidents.

2.2 SYLLABUS: It is the tool in which we indicate the contents and assessment criteria, how to teach them and when. It is based on four block of contents regarding the four basic skills we need to develop and achieve communicative competence. Block 1. Comprehension of oral texts. Block 2. Production of oral texts, expression and interaction. Block 3. Comprehension of written texts. Block 4, production of written texts expression and interaction.

These four blocks are the basis for assessment criteria and gradable learning standards as well as the syllabus contents, in other words, they establish the knowledge, abilities, competences and attitudes which contribute to reading objectives and acquiring competences.

2.3 ROLES: The objectives of a method are attained through the interaction of teachers, learners and materials. Teachers role has been modified from the strict informatory to an informant, conductor, corrector and consultant. Learners are considered active agents of their process of learning and new materials and its role are being taken into account due to the increase of the ICT. These three elements will be described in detail in the last part of the unit when examining the CLT methodology.


It consist on the techniques, practices and behaviors that operate in a real teaching situation according to a particular method. Nowadays the most accepted instructional framework is COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING and it is based on a STUDENT CENTERED APPROACH

In the following section we will analyze the CLT and the Student Centered approach following this previous analysis.

APPROACH: The CLT starts from a theory of language, its main goal is to achieve CC. ( Communicative Competence). Review main ideas.

DESIGN: Christopher Brumfit published in his “ Communicative Methodology”, he designed a syllabus in which there is a grammatical core around with notions, communicative functions and activities.

PROCEDURE: Harmer established that Communicative activities must fulfill a series of conditions.

● Enable the students to achieve CC.

● Engage learners in real communication activities.

● Focus on content not form.

● Desire to communicate

● Use a variety of language

● Teacher control decreased and no materials control.

Littlewood stated that we should provide our students with a wide range of activities based on language functions, comparing , sequencing, questioning, and also social functions, debates, role. Plays, dialogues etc…