The TEFL course in Malaga notes: Communication

TEFL teachers like to think their students are taught communicative English, but before we start to teach, we should have it clear in our minds just what "communication" means.

Take this example of a class that has been studying together for a month:

S1-S2 ‘What’s your name’?

S2-S1 ‘My name is Pepe’.

Both use correctly structured English sentences. Can we say "communication" has taken place?

Unfortunately, no, it hasn’t. If the students have been in the same class, then they already know each other's names thus rendering the question unnecessary because no information was transferred (in reality we don't go around asking people questions that we already know the answer to!). This point is commonly neglected by TEFL teachers – creating situations where utterances made in class are not communicative i.e. things said without genuine information transfer. In real life, language serves just this purpose, and if this purpose isn't reproduced in the TEFL classroom, then the students aren't practising communicative English. We can, however, get the student to practise asking names communicatively by giving out role play cards which mean that the student has a different name, and so the question results in a transfer of information. Agreed, it is ultimately artificial, but it is communicative. We could call communication "the transfer of information in order to fulfil a need". This said it is not desirable that all of the language production in a TEFL classroom is "communicative", since there are other considerations that need addressing where "communication" isn't the immediate concern. This is an important factor to be underlined in any TEFL course, and one of the strong points to the course supplied by the TEFL centre in Málaga.


Tags: TEFL course, communication, TEFL teachers
Posted on May 2nd, 2017


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