April 5, 2024

Communicative language teaching (CLT): Language is communication (1970s–1980s)

by Mateusz Wiącek

With the advent of the European Common Market in the ’70s and ’80s, there was a lot of migration in Europe and an increased number of people who needed to learn a foreign language for work or personal reasons. More and more schools started offering foreign language training. 

The demand was there, but traditional language methods did not really work for the masses. 

Communicative language teaching (CLT) was the response to that demand. 

CLT did not have a single inventor; rather, it emerged as an approach to language teaching through the collaborative efforts and contributions of various language educators and researchers over time. These were heavily inspired by Chomsky’s nativism and Piaget’s constructivism:

  • the ultimate goal of language learning is interaction; 
  • accuracy is less important than production;
  • learners are encouraged to use language in real-life situations, fostering practical language skills.

Foreign language study was no longer confined to the elite academies. It was becoming mainstream and inspired linguists to further improve language learning, which lead to the theory of Comprehensible Input by Stephen Krashen.

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