The community of language teaching professionals, educators, and linguists need to convey to the public, parents, school systems, and education ministries of the governments the need for communicatively oriented language teaching in East Asia.
First and foremost are the facts that traditional language instruction have failed the students. Teaching to tests has failed the students, and the tests themselves are poor measures of real English proficiency. The Korean College Scholastic Aptitude Test, or suneung and the TOEFL and TOEIC are not adequate measures of real English ability. Teaching to these tests simply makes students memorize information that they cannot use. The test-oriented teaching methods fail students most of all when they find themselves unable to cope with college courses taught in English at East Asian universities; when they cannot cope with academic texts – research journals, books, and textbooks in English – that are necessary for college courses; when they cannot cope with English texts or media or real life situations requiring English in their later careers and professional situations. CLT, especially a cognitively oriented variety, can better prepare them for even receptive uses of English (reading, comprehension skills) in life, for the following reasons.
One of the greatest obstacles of a second language is the lack of mental efficiency, the amount of extra processing time and effort it takes, in doing any kind of task in an L2 – be it a production task (writing, speaking) or a receptive task (reading, listening). The learner must use more conscious working memory to process both the language and the contents conveyed by the language, which can be slow and tiring. Only hundreds of hours of meaningful practice can help to alleviate this burden. Only with meaningful exposure, practice and use can the learner develop some degree of automaticity in the L2. Meaningful use of the L2 can be accomplished with communicative tasks in the classroom; it cannot be accomplished with behavioristic learning methods and rote studying methods (i.e., large scale memorization and traditional teaching/learning methods).
A goal of a cognitively oriented CLT, as I envision it, is also learner empowerment and autonomy – teaching the learner to learn on his/her own outside the classroom by engaging with authentic materials, e.g., books, online materials and media in the L2. Learners can get far more meaningful exposure to the L2 through authentic materials, more than in the limited classroom time that they would have. This would be better for developing authenticity and intrinsic motivation for learning the L2, especially if they have the freedom to choose their learning materials.
If students want to do better on language tests, it is best if they not study for the tests, I would argue. That is, if they study too hard for the tests, they are less likely to do well. If they want to develop real English skills, confidence, and a genuine understanding of English, then it is best if they do not study specifically for these tests, but for the sake of English for their own enjoyment and learning (not just learning English, but learning other things through English media). Self-empowered study can boost their mental efficiency and lower their sense of stress, and the burden and stress of L2 processing, and they can boost their confidence by learning from authentic materials.
See also my blog post exploring more rationales for CLT in East Asia.