The Communicative Approach

(Paper appeared in Journal of English and Foreign Languages – JEFL No.4, December 1989)


The Communicative Approach is more than simply a pedagogic tool in ELT. It certainly represents a major shift In ELT theory and practice that has been taking place during the last two decades. More importantly, however, underlying this approach are certain theoretical assumptions regarding the nature of language and the way language is internalized. The first part of this paper attempts to place these theoretical assumptions within the conceptual framework of modern linguistics and raises questions regarding their adequacy as explanatory principles. The second part examines some of the practical aspects of the Communicative Approach – particularly, its implications for the pedagogical practice of ESL. It is argued that if the approach is to be fruitfully adapted for a large-scale use In Indian ELT pedagogy, it must recognize (a) the multilingual Indian context, and (b) the specific objectives of teaching English In India. Finally, it is also argued that an Important aspect of ‘needs-analysis’ is the analysis of the social attitudes to the learning, teaching and use of English in India.

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