“Personal effectiveness is the core of our business.”
- Sheila Viesca, TalkShop

Friday, September 09, 2011

TalkShop Pioneers CLT in the Philippines

In 2009, Sheila Viesca, TalkShop CEO and Director, coined Integrated Language Teaching (ILT) and registered the concept as a language teaching methodology. ILT is a communicative pedagogy that effectively integrates the proven teaching techniques of the west and the learning considerations in the eastern setting. More importantly, ILT builds upon the concepts of Communicative Language Teaching or CLT

In the first place, what is CLT

There are many ways to teach language – one is Communicative Language Teaching. It is an approach to the teaching of second and foreign languages that emphasizes communicative discourse as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. 

It is said that language students are successful if they can communicate effectively in their second or foreign language. How is it possible?

The successful acquisition of a second or foreign language is assessed in terms of how well learners develop their communicative competence, which is their ability to apply their knowledge of the language in both formal and informal settings. In communicative competence, fluency and use are just as important as accuracy and usage – instruction is aimed at the improvement of organizational (grammar), pragmatic (meaning), strategic (technique), and psychomotor (pronunciation) skills. The teacher uses situation exercises and “real world” language. Also, the teacher presents activities which are meaningful to students and motivate them to become committed to the language.

In Communicative Language Teaching, the teacher serves as more of a facilitator, allowing students to be in charge of their own learning. The teacher still sets up exercises and gives direction to the class; however, the students are given more avenues for speaking. This responsibility to participate can often lead to an increased sense of comfort and confidence in using the language. 

In this approach, students practice real-life situations that involve communication, such as shopping, dining, getting directions, or asking for time. In these exercises, the goal is for the students to communicate their needs and thoughts, without worrying too much about grammar. While grammar is still important in the CLT classroom, the emphasis is on communicating a message. Grammar is taught using communicative exercises. 

Communicative activities rely on the students’ ability to understand and communicate real-life information. They develop a pattern of language interaction within the classroom; with an informal use of language in a relaxed classroom environment, students master ordinary authentic conversations in the real world. At the same time, interactive group work lessens students’ anxiety about performing. 

Most communicative activities involve speaking activities such as extemporaneous speech practice, where students give a speech on a certain topic – usually they tell a story from their own experiences. Students are less likely to feel nervous and pressured when the responsibility of giving a good speech is shared among a group. 

Other activities involve oral skill activities such as story building, where one person, usually the teacher, starts a sentence or clause and the students take turns to continue the story; and some are guided discussions, where students are tasked to discuss a topic of their choice. 

Communicative Language Teaching is an enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences, through the use of meaningful activities, which is a very important element in a positive classroom learning experience.

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