Introduction to cognitive communicative language teaching (CCLT)
In spite of its obvious strengths, some have criticized communicative language teaching (CLT). Some have said that it does not apply well in an East Asian context, and that it does not apply well to some courses such as content based instruction or writing instruction. To some degree, these criticisms may be unfair; for example, East Asian students can learn to embrac inductive style learning. But a few shortcomings do exist in CLT, which I propose to remedy with a somewhat expanded paradigm.
Cognitive communicative language teaching (CCLT) is how I describe a synthesis of techniques into a more integrated approach that is situated within the framework of cognitive, social, and learning psychology, which subsumes principles of the psychology of learning and cognitive approaches to grammar and linguistics. This framework thus includes cognitive grammar and communicative language teaching (CLT). The communicative component is situated within a social psychology or socio-cognitive framework. This will allow teachers to contextualize language teaching to their students’ particular needs, levels, and socio-cultural context.
This framework subsumes and goes beyond the current communicative language teaching (CLT) approach in several ways. It is concerned not only with communicative competence, but other learner needs as well, especially in contexts like East Asia, where English is an entirely foreign language, not spoken often outside the classroom. Students need some level of communicative ability, but more often they may feel other more important needs as well, or teachers can offer the unmotivated learner other intellectual benefits beyond L2 competence as rationales for learning. These might include the ability to better learn content area knowledge in their fields via English, cultural awareness, or becoming a better global citizen.
More notably, it goes further than CLT by indicating goals for curricula or lessons. Instructional goals are not just in communicative competence, but also helping learners improve in learning autonomy, specifically, their intrinsic sense of autonomy; in improving learners’ sense of achievement, accomplishment, or growth; and in improving in some form of interpersonal connectedness in the L2 or via the L2. These goals come from Self-Determination theory in psychology, and are important for improving learners’ motivation toward the L2, especially given the problems of English teaching in the East Asian context.
Incidentally, a few scholars may have juxtaposed the terms cognitive and communicative, but this CCLT framework is more comprehensive and ambitious in its approach. The communicative component, for example, is to be framed within a larger socio-cognitive framework of human communication. The goals of learning and teaching are framed within the students’ cognitive needs and interest in learning a language, be it L2 mastery or sufficient L2 competence for personal or professional goals, or intellectual growth, or cultural understanding and being a better global citizen. Finally, lessons and curricula are framed within motivational theory and should be designed to promote learners’ sense of competence, growth, learning autonomy, and (possibly) social connectedness.
This website (in its current form) has just started in Sept. 2015, and relevant contents and future research will hopefully follow over the coming years.