The in China have been encouraged to use an

The Problems and Strategies on Application of CLT to English
Teaching in Senior High School in China



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With the trend of globalization in the
21st century, China has faced unprecedented opportunities and challenges. China
becomes more and more open, and the contact of China with other countries is
also more and more close. Meanwhile, the exchange between countries in culture
gets deeper and deeper, language, as the dominant carrier of information, has become
increasingly important. As English is the most widely spoken language in the
world, to following the demand for social economic
development, there is a clear need for many learners to speak and interact in a
multiplicity of situations through English. Therefore English education has
been attached to increasingly importance.


However communication with other
people in English has a big defect in China, Chinese
learners are still in a difficult situation and they have some practical
problems with communicative competence in English because of the traditional teaching method
(Liu, 2008). This phenomenon has attracted the attention of many teachers and
experts. The reform of teaching methods has made them search out other teaching
methods. In recent decades?teachers of foreign languages in
China have been encouraged to use an approach known as communicative language
teaching (CLT).  In 1970s, the communicative language teaching
was introduced to English teachers in China and gradually adopted by teachers. It
changes the teacher-centred education of the traditional English language
teaching into real students-centred education.


According to The New English Curriculum Standard for High School
issued by Chinese Ministry of Education (2003): consolidate and  enlarge students’ basic knowledge of English
on the basis of junior middle school learning; develop the basic four skills of
listening, speaking, reading and writing; foster the basic ability to use
English for communication in speaking and writing with emphasis on reading ability;
acquire ability of self-study to a certain degree and lay a solid foundation
for further learning and using English. It can be obviously seen that the New Curriculum
Standard stresses knowledge of English as skills and special emphasis is given
to the ability to use it as and for communication. In order to reach these
aims, teachers are encouraged to apply CLT in our English teaching. However,
the effect is less than satisfactory. This paper was
undertaken to analyze the
problems of using CLT in senior high as well as the strategies to solve these
problems, aims to help senior English teachers and students to adapt better to
this effective teaching approach.



Literature Review


Background and definition of CLT


CLT is originated in Europe, with the
increasing interdependence of European countries in the 1960s. CLT spreads into
Bangladesh in the modern era, and has been applied in both advanced and
fundamental education up to the present. The theoretical base of CLT is Hymes’s
communicative competence. Hymes (1972) defines communicative competence as
“this competence…is integral with attitudes, values and motivations concerning language,
its features and uses, and integral with competence for, and attitudes  toward, the 
interrelation of language with the other code of communicative conduct”.

M. S. Whitley
(1993) thinks “CLT is a bound of approaches.” David Nunan (1989) also holds
“…it is something of misnomer to talk about the communicative approach as there
is a family of approaches.” No matter how they term the concept of CLT, there
are two points that we have to admit.  First, it is not a teaching method but an
approach. Second, it is not one approach simply but a family of approaches.


In terms of what is Communicative Language
Teaching, different people have different definitions. According to Jack C.
Richards and Theodore S. Rodgers (2004): Communicative Language Teaching is best
considered an approach rather than a method. It refers to a diverse set of principles
that reflects a communicative review of language and language learning that can
be used to support a wide variety of classroom procedures.


Language Teaching is also named Communicative Approach. And it can be regarded as
a product of multidisciplinary researches on linguistics, psychology, philosophy,
sociology, and education. The focus of it has been the elaboration and implementation
of programs and methodologies that improve the development of functional language
ability through learners’ participation in communicative activities.”(Savignon,


Howatt (1984) distinguishes between a
weak and a strong version of CLT, “The weak version stresses the importance of providing
learners with opportunities to use their English for communicative purposes and
attempts to integrate such activities into a wider program of language
teaching. The strong version of communicative teaching, on the other hand,
advances the claim that language is acquired by communication, so that it is
not just a question of activating an existing but inert knowledge of the
language, but of stimulating the development of the language system itself.


fact, for CLT it stresses much on using the language rather than merely
learning the grammatical rules. In a word, CLT is that it attempts to make the  “communicative competence” the goal for
English language teaching or learning.


Characteristics and principles of CLT


The characteristic and the principles would
be introduced in this part. Different linguists’ view of CLT would be presented


Brown’ view of CLT

According to Brown,
the definition of communicative language teaching includes four characteristic:

(1) Classroom goals
are stressed on all of the components of communicative competence and they are not
just restricted to some grammatical or linguistic competence.

(2) Form is certainly
not the main framework of organizing a lesson.

(3) Accuracy is
the second important factor for students to convey information. Fluency may take
on more importance than accuracy. The final criterion for communicative success
is to stress on the actual transmission and receive of intended information.

(4) In the communicative
classroom, learners finally have to use the language not only productively but also
receptively in unrehearsed context.


Brown (1994) regards
the most important linguistic principle of learning and teaching as that “Given
the communicative competence is the goal of a language classroom, then instruction
needs to point out all of its components: organizational, pragmatic, strategic,
and psychomotor. Communicative goals can be best achieved by giving much attention
to language use and not just usage, to fluency and not just accuracy, to authentic
language and contexts, and to students’ eventual need to apply classroom learning
to contexts in the real world.” Brown illustrates the following six teaching rules:
1.You should remember that the grammatical explanations and exercises are only one
aspect for a lesson; leave grammar some attention, but remember not to neglect the
other important aspects for communicative competence (e.g. functional, socio-linguistic,
psychomotor, and strategic). 2. In the classroom, you should use your enthusiasm
for English teaching and you couldn’t forget that the psychomotor skills (pronunciation)
are also an important component among them. 3. You should always make sure that
your students have chances to express their opinions in English in class without
having to be afraid of some mistakes all the time. And you should allow them to
make some errors at some time. 4. You should try your best to use every technique
that you have as much as possible: And you need to use the language that the learners
will often use in the real life and then provide the environment for the actual
conveyance of information. 5. One day your students will leave your classroom and
go into the society. Therefore, you should make sure that you are preparing your
students to be an independent learner and the manipulators of language “out of the