Journal for Language Teaching

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Bridging the divide between ideal and actual Communicative Language Teaching

Lizette de Jager, Folake Ruth Aluko


Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) comes recommended as an ideal teaching method in Zimbabwe because of its ability to assist learners to become communicatively competent. Most studies on CLT in Zimbabwe focus on secondary schools, neglecting the primary school where all learning begins. This article describes the activities used by teachers when implementing CLT and ascertains the difference between the ideal and actual in CLT. The study was framed within the interpretivist paradigm, using a qualitative single case study. A conceptual framework based on Socio-cultural Theory (SCT), Experiential Learning or Teaching Theory, Instructional Communication, Communicative Competence Theory and the Seven Areas of Policy Development for Language-in-Education Policy Implementation, was used. Vygotsky’s SCT was used to guarantee interaction with the More Knowledgeable Others (teachers or peers) and mediation tools (teaching methods). Instructional Communication and Communicative Competence were utilised to explore language in the classroom. The Seven Areas of Policy Development for Languagein- Education Policy Implementation and the Experiential Learning or Teaching Theory were used to ensure the use of CLT methods, and whether teachers reflect to improve on them. Non-participant observations, semi-structured interviews and document analysis were used to collect data, which were analysed using inductive and thematic analysis. Findings show that teachers still use traditional methods of teaching and also affirm that activities indicated in participants’ scheme-cum-plans were not implemented. Findings suggest the theorisation of CLT only. The study recommends teacher educators to equip student teachers with adequate skills to deal with CLT classes beginning in the formative stages of the education system.

Keywords: Accuracy, activities, Audiolingual Method, Communicative Language
Teaching, English Second Language, fluency, Grammar-translation Method, interaction,
methodological beliefs, pedagogical beliefs
AJOL African Journals Online