changing winds and shifting sands of the history of English
by Dimitrios Thanasoulas
need for communication has been relentless, leading to the
emergence of the Communicative Language Teaching. Having defined
and redefined the construct of communicative competence; having
explored the vast array of functions of language that learners
are supposed to be able to accomplish; and having probed the
nature of styles and nonverbal communication, teachers and
researchers are now better equipped to teach (about) communication
through actual communication, not merely theorising about
At this juncture, we should say that Commuicative Language
Teaching is not a method; it is an approach, which transcends
the boundaries of concrete methods and, concomitantly, techniques.
It is a theoretical position about the nature of language
and language learning and teaching.
Let us see the basic premises of this approach:
Focus on all of the components of communicative competence,
not only grammatical or linguistic competence
Engaging learners in the pragmatic, functional use
of language for meaningful purposes
Viewing fluency and accuracy as complementary principles
underpinning communicative techniques
Using the language in unrehearsed contexts
all the above we can see that the manageable stockpile of
research of just a few decades ago has given place to a systematic
storehouse of information. Researchers the world over are
meeting, talking, comparing notes, and arriving at some explanations
that give the lie to past explanations. As Brown (2000: ix)
notes, '[o]ur research miscarriages are fewer as we have collectively
learned how to conceive the right questions'. Nothing is taken
as gospel; nothing is thrown out of court without being put
to the test. This "test" may always change its mechanics,
but the fact remains that the changing winds and shifting
sands of time and research are turning the dessert into a
H. D. (2000) Principles of Language Learning and Teaching.
New York: Longman.
English Literature and Linguistics at Athens University
and then did an MA in Applied Linguistics at Sussex
University. After that, he earned an MBA from Mooreland
University and is currently finishing the second year
of my PhD studies in Education at Nottingham University.
His academic interests include fostering cultural awareness
and learner autonomy, as well as such issues as language
and ideology, Critical Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics,
Sociolinguistics, and the Psychology of Education.
can be contacted at:
the beginning of the article
to the articles index