One of the goals of language learning is to become good at using language for communication and the CLT approach addresses “creative construction, trial and error, authentic and meaningful communication and fluency” that assist students in achieving this objective. There are many variables to consider before deciding on which approach to use in a classroom but personally, I lean towards the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach. This approach is more students centered, where students learn by doing, and complements my teaching style. Using CLT can assist students in building confidence so that they become more comfortable communicating in the L2 and achieve communicative competence.
I think that the Eclectic approach would work best for the entire class. Students learn differently and come to the class with various levels of competency. For instance, by designing for the learner and using a variety of approaches, the approach would meet the needs of the students.
My daughter’s 8th grade Spanish class offers some real-life examples of different approaches. The teacher uses the Grammar Translation approach where they spend a lot of time learning vocabulary, conjugating verbs and writing and translating sentences. They also spend some time translating paragraphs they wrote about themselves and presenting before the class. The teacher also incorporates the Audio-Lingualism approach where she speaks in Spanish and the students respond individually when they are called upon. One approach they have not done is to speak conversationally. I believe that it is important to expose students to conversations that are not planned but happen naturally. I hired a tutor from Peru to come to our house once a week. She works with my daughter on her homework and then we make dinner together. We alternate making dishes from her native country and share some of our favorites. We only speak Spanish and I feel that this experience has given my daughter more confidence and has forced her to speak more quickly. This focus on fluency vs. proper grammatical sentence structure has made her more relaxed.
Belchamber, R. (2007). The Advantages of Communicative Language Teaching. Retrieved on January 1, 2012 from http://iteslj.org/Articles/Belchamber-CLT.html
Rodgers, T. (2001). Language Teaching Methodology. Retrieved on January 2, 2012 from http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/rodgers.html