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1.1 The communicative approach to language teaching (20)The communicative approach in languages provides learners with extensive opportunities to acquire the language skills necessary to perform certain required functions in society. The learner is provided with many opportunities to practise or speak the language by solving problems and interacting in social or practical situations.During this process, learners make mistakes as part of their learning. Mistakes may be corrected, but the main focus is on communicative competence. This approach mirrors the acquisition of a home language and the manner in which older children or adults in the family help the child to acquire the home language, but does not impede progress by an over-insistence on correctness.Learners of a new language must be given enough practice in class, as they are unlikely to have enough exposure to the language at home. Home language speakers and additional language speakersneed to use and discuss language in an academic way (metalanguage).The implications of the communicative approach for classroom practice are:Language skills should be taught in an integrated way as this is how language is used in real life.Learners should be given ample opportunities to use language in the classroom: to listen and speak and to read or view written language and to write language. This means maximising opportunities for learners to practise oral language skills using group or pair activities and to practise reading through a range of individual activities.Learners should use language in situations that require them to interact and communicate realfeelings, ideas and information for real purposes. This can include activities where there is an information gap: different groups of learners having different information that they need to share to achieve a common goal.Texts used as the basis for learning activities, such as current newspaper or magazine articles,advertisements, pamphlets, stories and radio programmes should be authentic. Texts from a range of different genres and modes such as oral, written or multimedia, should be used and can be linked through themes.Language errors are regarded as part of the language learning process. The focus is on effectively communicating meaning rather than on using the correct form of the language.Language structures should be taught in context. While assessing learners’ writing, a teacher may realise that they have difficulty in using a tense correctly. The teacher can then focus the learners’ attention on the correct use of that tense in a text and then provide opportunities for practice using the tense in different, authentic writing activities.