The role of communication in teaching of foreign language

The article deals with the aspects of the using communicative methods in the English language teaching process. It is also shows an importance of interaction between teacher and students and students with students while studying foreign languages. There is an analysis of the effective methods and approaches of the use of interactive communication in the English language teaching, and the importance of attention during the process of studying the languages and developing listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. Communication increases student’s interest in the subject, enlarges the content of education, and modernizes educational process. Effective communication provides qualitative approach to education and plays an important role in studying.

Teaching English as a foreign language has long determined changes in pedagogical methods and continues to do so. The most important aspect is that the focus has shifted from teacher-centered classes to student-centered classes. This aspect has imposed new «rules» and attitudes, especially for the teacher. The modern pedagogy has understood that the class is a balanced two-ways relationship between the one who teaches and the one who learns. Thus, the two parts «negotiate» their importance in the class, in the sense that, for a better learning activity the one who teaches should become more or less dynamic or implicated. He is the one who knows, the one who eventually puts things into order and understands the best attitude towards his partner. It is said that the most important job of the teacher is to create the conditions in which learning can take place. I think we should complete this statement by saying that the teacher has to create the conditions in which the best learning can take place. Because we aim at optimal activities in order to obtain the most profitable results. This way, communicative method seems to be an appropriate attitude towards this objective. It deals with classroom interaction as an important pedagogical principle. Nevertheless, this concept of classroom interaction has long time been wrongly taken, as it was identified only with teacher-student interaction. It is very important for the learner to listen to and to speak with the teacher, as the latter is the one who may and can decide whether the required level of accuracy has been achieved. The students always look up at the person teaching them, as a person who has the necessary skills to observe, understand and most important correct the mistakes. But this is not always the best way to learn, especially when it comes to a foreign language. Alongside with presentation or practice (as part of the lesson approaches) there is the part of production. The student learns a lot from what he hears from the teacher or from a tape, but is more important to become the one who can eventually produce language. One of the problems in teaching a foreign language lies not only in the process of input, of providing information — that is uttering the words and explaining their meaning. It is also the problem of output, of what the student is capable of uttering [1].

Taking into account that the student absorbs the correct picture of the language (or of a certain vocabulary) by listening to the teacher, we may easily fall into the mistake of dominating the lesson to the exclusion of any other participant. Thus, one should constantly acknowledge that by interacting with the teacher, a student is learning to interact with a competent user of the language. Again, if the only conversation practice learners get is one-to-one with the teacher, they will get very little time to speak at all (especially if there is, for example, 20 people class). An essential lesson that every new teacher needs to learn is that «talking at» the learners does not necessarily mean that learning is taking place; in many cases, teacher talking time is actually time when the learners are not doing very much and are not very involved. So, in order to assure a better acquisition, the teacher should manage talking time as it will become most profitable for the students. On the other hand students should interact among themselves as much as possible. Whether this is done by the way they are sitting, or especially by the manner in which they communicate one to another, their speaking time should increase compared to that of the teacher. The latter may as well be only a mediator between them, a facilitator of students’ language production. One of the most important distinctions that can be drawn here is that between the teacher as a controller and the teacher as a participant, as these two concepts represent limits of teacher behavior. A controller stands in front of the class and stands out as the person who governs everything from teaching to the student’s possible reactions. He is like a «puppet-master» observing and deciding whether a certain gesture should be made. On the other hand, the participant involves not only communicatively but sometimes even physically in the class, maintaining a low profile in order to allow students to achieve their best from an individual or group task [2].

When learning English students are receiving language — as language is in some way «put into» the students (whether they want to receive it or not). But this is not enough: the teacher also needs to provide opportunities for the students to activate this knowledge and to “produce” language. Controller teachers should know when and how long they need to allow students to talk because language production implies rehearsing whilst receiving feedback (from the teacher or from the students). So, it is clearly that there is a great need for communicative output from the students and also of a feedback. If teachers forget to «get out» from controller position, the students can no longer practice language therefore their talking skills may suffer greatly. When talking about input one should notice that «finely-tuned input» is often «the focus of the presentation of new language where repetition, teacher correction, discussion and/ or discovery techniques are frequently used to promote cognitive strategies. During the presentation stage, teachers tend to act as controllers, both selecting the language the students are to use and asking for the accurate reproduction of new language items. They will want to correct the mistakes they hear and see at this stage fairly rigorously — in marked contrast to the kind of correction that is generally offered in practice and communicative activities. In order to get the best results in a student-centered class one should make sure that he gets to them, that he can get their attention. An important reason why learners may not successfully follow activity instructions (or understand teacher’s explanations of something) is that they didn’t actually hear them, perhaps because they weren’t fully paying attention when they were given. Sometimes, as the teacher invests energy in finding the best way to give many instructions, he may overlook the necessity of getting students’ attention before the instruction is even given [3].

If the students are chattering, or not paying attention, nevertheless how well the instruction is given, it will have little chances of fulfillment. That is why the teacher should take into account few tips in order to really focus the activity upon students. First of all he has to make eye-contact as much and with as many students as possible. Then the teacher might have established a gesture that means he wants to talk (for example holding the hand up or even a word). Personally, I do the next thing: make eye-contact and then wait, maintaining the eye contact. I do not move and do not say a word. I do not look impatient or anxious. I just keep moving my eyes around the room from person to person. Eventually the students will understand that attention is required and from that point I can give my instruction. It is very important for the teacher to know what his role in the class is, especially in pair or group activities. «Immediately after you have given the instruction for a task and students start doing it, there is often an immediate need to check to make sure that students are doing the activity that you asked them to do and have understood the basic instructions and the mechanics of the activity. You could do this by quietly and relatively inconspicuous wandering around the room, listening in briefly to snatches from many groups and assuring yourself that students are doing what they are supposed to. We could call this monitoring to check the mechanics.

In most activities, the aim is that the learners get to work on their own as much as possible; to speak fluently with the least interference from the teacher. The presence of the teacher may sometimes be perceived as interference. Let us explain: if the teacher is «too present», then the student will look to him for guidance, correction or vocabulary help, whereas it might be more useful for them to struggle a little and learn to make use of their own resources. Thus, the teacher‘s behavior may vary from monitoring discreetly to vanishing completely form the activity. Yet, in some tasks, especially in those in which the students need advice, input or support, the teacher may become more implicated in the activity and his role gets more and more active. In these cases the best options for a teacher are to monitor actively or to participate [4].

To monitor discreetly means to maintain a certain presence of you as a teacher in the classroom, but not to offer help or to interfere every time something seems wrong. The students should know that the teacher is there, but that he will not interrupt them. The teacher is there watching and listening carefully, but unless there is a significant problem or mistake he need not to intervene. This way, the students will not feel tempted to report every time to the teacher and they will do the task themselves, producing and using language as much as possible. Even if they ask for the teacher’s help, he should do this swiftly and effectively and then return to the monitoring position. Nevertheless, there are cases when the teacher risks to impose his presence too much by helping the learners and thus to diminish the work that is supposed to be done. «Sometimes the best option for you is to vanish, i.e. get out of the immediate eyeshot. You could go into a corner of the room and sit quietly. You need to keep a small percentage of attention on the room, in order to know when the activity is reaching an end or a crisis point, but otherwise restrain yourself from doing too much. Relax and stop being a teacher for a while. In a few specific cases, you might want to emphasize the point that students need to work without your 438 help, and in such cases even leaving the room for a few minutes may be an option». There is also the case when, if the teacher leaves the room for a few minutes, the students — as they are involved in solving the task — may not even notice his absence [5].

Monitoring actively is more visible for students and allows them to be more aware of the teacher’s presence and of the possibility of asking help from him. A teacher who is actively monitoring will be walking around, viewing and listening in to many different groups and frequently offering spontaneous advice and corrections, as well as responding to requests and questions from students. This method may easily change into participation when the teacher sits down and joins a group (temporarily or for the whole task). He may be part of that group, but, at the same time offering help, ideas or even asking questions. The communicative method resorts to different techniques of teaching students. On one hand there is the part of restricted practice, and on the other hand is that of free practice. When talking about restricted task, we aim at exercises (written or oral) which focus on certain language topics or grammar problems. For example, we can use a written exercise of the «fill in the blanks» type in order for the students to learn new vocabulary or new grammatical items. At the same time, an oral exercise may have as the main target the words used in a certain communicational situation (e.g. booking a room in a hotel or taking part in an interview for a certain job or position in a company). These types of activities tend to be easier than free practice, as they limit the students’ options to certain topics. When it comes to free practice one should understand the capacity of the learner to make up a discourse and to sustain logical statements. Generally, this is a communicative activity which demands from the student the capacity of dialogue, of responding and asking questions. It comes as a general truth that for a communicative purpose, this method is more appropriate than those asking students to only solve exercises with fixed pattern and in which imagination and the capacity of speaking is not challenged, therefore, not improved. Challenging speaking abilities — both fluency and accuracy — is eventually the aim of communicative method as it focuses on student and on the student’s linguistic needs, meeting clear-cut objectives set by the trainer after the student’s needs analysis [6].

It is common knowledge that over the past few decades the methodology of modern foreign language teaching has become increasingly oriented towards the achievement of effective communication and that a key goal has become the teaching of communication through the mastering of speech habits. One of the most attractive features of the communicative method is its emphasis on mastering cultural patterns associated with the language being studied, including the cognitive, educational and intellectual aspects, and in carrying out this task attempting to bring out the best in the students. This approach promotes acquaintance not only with the lexical and grammatical systems of the language studied but also with its associated culture, indeed cultures, and its relationship with the culture of the language learner, besides exploring the character and peculiarities of the language studied and its similarities and differences to the learner’s native language. Last but not least, this communicative approach to language teaching must also attempt to satisfy the personal cognitive interest of the student, motivating even those people who at the outset of the study process have little interest in learning a foreign language [7].

It should be stressed that this method pays great attention to acquainting students with diverse aspects of the culture of the target language through a process of communication which fulfils an educational, cognitive, developmental and even a nurturing role.

In order to avoid misunderstanding some points have to be clarified. Such widely used terms as international education, multicultural education, comparative education, cross-cultural education, and even global education are, in our opinion, essentially expressions of the changing relationship between modern society and education in a new global setting. It is not the aim of this paper to delve into the complex but fascinating study of the meaning attached to the myriad terms relating to internationalization, its historic and present role. One overriding factor that influences the rich diversity of English teaching methods in Kazakhstan and Europe as a whole is the Bologna Process, which has for some time been the driving force behind Euro integration in education [6].

In spite of the fact that there is no single acceptable way to go about teaching English at present, there has been a clear understanding that successful adaptation to the modern world requires the inclusion of cultural elements in English language instruction. When this cultural element in English lessons incorporates an idea of the often highly distinctive ethical systems in Anglophone culture the response from students can be especially productive. For this purpose students require specialized textbooks which can supply the  required information in a form as accessible and up-to-date as possible. Such text books may take the form of a thorough, encyclopedic overview. Other highly useful books have been written for people who already know English at least at intermediate level and wish to travel, take a vacation, study or do business in the English speaking countries and these can really help students prepare for everyday language situations they may meet while in the English speaking countries or when they meet native speakers outside the countries.



  1. Jim Scrivener. Learning Teaching, Macmillan Books for Teachers. — Oxford, 2005. — 68
  2. Jeremy Harmer. The Practice of English Language Teaching. — Longman, 1995. — 32
  3. Stephen D. Krashen. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. — Pergamon Press. — 57
  4. Fiedler E. America in Close-up / E. Fiedler, R. Jansen, M. Norman-Risch. — Longman Group UK Ltd, 1998. — 282
  5. Jones K. Simulations: а Handbook for Teachers and Trainers / K. Jones. — Kogan Page Ltd, 1995. — 145
  6. Livingstone C. Role Play in Language Learning / C. Livingstone. — M.: Vysshaya shkola, 1987. — 127
  7. Kozhushko S. Law at First Sight / S. Kozhushko, O. Glinska, M. Kabanova. — Dnipropetrovsk, 2011. — 328
Name of author: G.S.Tynbayeva, N.B.Mikhailova
Year: 2016
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy