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Mara Iranzo Esteban

Resources for EFL in Infant Education


2014/2015

COMMUNICATIVE ACTIVITY REFLECTION


Over time, the way of teaching a language has change, since the view
of the language itself has also change. Before, the language was seen
just as a structure, as a set of rules and grammatical structures. But,
as the years have gone by, it is seen more as a social event: language
is necessary to communicate and interact with the others. There has
been a change from a structuralist approach to a communicative
approach.
Even the role of the teacher has change over time. Some years ago,
the teacher was considered the one who transmitted knowledge to
the children, and that was almost all. But nowadays, the teacher has
many roles to play. S/he acts as a guide, a facilitator, a helper, and
advisor and as a communicator. S/he is not just the one who transmits
the knowledge, but s/he helps the children to build up their own
knowledge, to go further and to progress on their learning process.
Obviously, structure is important when learning a language as it is
necessary to know it, as well as it is also important to know the
grammar rules and the vocabulary to be able to use the language and
to manage a conversation; but it is not correct to work just on
teaching structures. There are things which may be more important
for the students such as communicating.
There have been many methods and approaches before the
communicative

approach:

grammar-translation

method,

direct

method, audio-lingual method. Their problem was that the students


were not involved enough in the lessons and in their learning. They
did not act as active participants and the topics they worked on did
not deal with real life, so motivation was highly difficult to reach and,
therefore,

the

unsuccessful.

language

learning

was

hard

and,

sometimes

Mara Iranzo Esteban


Resources for EFL in Infant Education
2014/2015

Towards the 1970ies, researchers proved that student were unable to


apply the linguistic competence to real-context situations. Linguistic
competence focused on structures and formal aspects of the
language.
In contrast, communicative competence is intended to let students be
able to communicate in real life.
In

the

communicative

approach,

the

emphasis

is

also

on

appropriateness, on pragmatic and sociolinguistic competence, on if


the message to be communicated will be acceptable in the context
where it is produced, rather than on accurateness, which used to be
the goal of traditional methods which only paid attention to whether
something was correct or not.
The aim or purpose of communicative approach is to make students
communicatively

competent,

thus,

they

have

to

acquire

the

communicative competence.
Language and communication are interdependent; they are related to
each other. They need each other. The communicative approach does
not understand the language independently of communication, and
vice versa. Language is a tool for communication.

According to the features of the communicative approach, to carry out


a communicative activity in my classroom I would take into account
many aspects:
-

It is necessary to introduce real or authentic language during

the lessons and in their planning, as it is used in real contexts.


The aim in teaching and learning a second language is to make
students communicatively competent, and this also implies that
it is important to teach them how to predict what they are going
to hear, because in that way they can understand better.

Mara Iranzo Esteban


Resources for EFL in Infant Education
2014/2015

The use of warning-up activities is good for students to review

the main points, vocabulary, etc.


The lessons should be carried out in the second language,
although the mother tongue may be used in some occasions, if

necessary.
Linguistic competence is not the only one important fact when
learning a language. There are more: pragmatic competence,
discourse competence, strategic competence and fluency. So,

all of they should be aroused and developed on the students.


Students may receive feedback or information on how they
have performed to let them know how well are they working or
what they should improve and, in this way, motivate them to

keep on learning.
It is necessary to make students work on negotiation of
meaning, to produce their own meaning, the meaning that they
want to communicate. It is essential to teach them language
strategies to learn how to make themselves understood by the

others.
Promoting
participation

interaction,
is

also

collaboration,
important

in

cooperation
order

to

and

promote

communication. Working in smalls groups will facilitate they can


-

communicate with one another.


It is also very important to take into account the students
feelings; so, the teacher should often ask them about their

ideas, opinions, contributions, etc.


Errors are tolerated and seen as a natural outcome of the
development of communication skills. It is known that we can
even learn from them. When a student is speaking and s/he
makes an error, the teacher may take a note of it and, later on,

they may think over it.


It is important to create social context. The teacher has to give
students the context of real situations to enable them to
communicate. S/he has to try to create an environment as
similar and close as possible to real life for students to
communicate as they would do in real life, through real and
authentic situations.

Mara Iranzo Esteban


Resources for EFL in Infant Education
2014/2015

Activities such as role-plays, group discussion, etc., give the


students the opportunity to communicate and to talk one
another, which improves social and cooperative relationships
among students. In this way, students can check with their
partners what each of them has understood and what they think

they have learn, through negotiation of meaning.


The teacher has to listen to the students. S/he gives advice to
them and answers their questions. Therefore, s/he is a facilitator
of the process and an advisor to the students. Sometimes, s/he
acts as a co-communicator, engaging in the communicative

activity along with the students.


The students are, above all, communicators. They have to be
actively involved in negotiating of meaning. They learn to
communicate by communicating. They are also seen as more
responsible managers of their own learning than in previous

methods.
When a communicative activity takes place, there have to exist
information

gap,

because

there

is

no

communication

if

participants share all the information; choice, since the speaker


has a choice of what s/he will say and how s/he will say it; and
feedback, to enable the student to know whether or not the
purpose has been achieved.

According Prabhu and having a look at all these features or


characteristics mentioned above, some of the activities that may
be carried out in order to develop a communicative activity are:
-

Information-gap activities: they involve a transfer from one


person to another, for example pair work in which each member
has a part of the total information and tries to express it
verbally to the other to reach a final goal. (guess a hidden

object)
Reasoning-gap activities: they involve deriving some new
information from given information through processes of
inference, deduction, practical reasoning, or a perception of

Mara Iranzo Esteban


Resources for EFL in Infant Education
2014/2015

relationships or patterns; for example, to decide which the best


-

action to a given purpose is.


Opinion-gap activities: they involve identifying and articulating
a personal preference, feeling or attitude in response to a given
situation; for example, story completion.

In conclusion, when carrying out a communicative activity, make sure


you, as a teacher, provide a basis for language acquisition, and give
students the chance to communicate, negotiate meaning and to
maintain a conversation with appropriate turn-taking conventions.
Make them receive input and produce output. Ensure your students
act as active learners in your lessons and provide them with feedback
to make them know how well they are performing.