Put simply, Communicative Language Teaching (or CLT) is the idea that we learn languages best by using them, and by making the context of their usage as relevant as possible. Grammar and vocabulary are always presented in context and are worked into activities aimed at giving learners the maximum time possible to use them in memorable, enjoyable and relevant ways.
For learners this makes for a wide variety of activities designed to get them talking – from debates to board games to peer interviews – often sparked by real-life materials in the language they are studying, for example newspaper articles, songs and chants, or video clips. In small group classes pair- and group-work is extensively used, while in one-to-one sessions the tutor acts as a facilitator, deliberately keeping their own ‘talking time’ low whilst providing the learner with all the language they need in order to express their ideas.
In an average CLT session, tutors aim to only speak for 20% of the time. We usually use this time to give clear instructions, to introduce and check comprehension of new language, and to give comprehensive feedback on recurring errors and good use of language at the end of a session. The other 80% of the time is for the student to practice and play with the language point in question.
Whether you are learning a new language from scratch, looking to improve your fluency or preparing for your GCSEs, the CLT approach improves memory, builds confidence and enjoyment, and lowers anxiety around language learning.
For a taste of our approach, take a look at our sample lesson plans.