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Communicative Language Practice

The second step, after the pre-communicative language practice, is the communicative language practice. Going back to our example of learning to ride a bike... when you finally take off the supporting wheels or you don't need your daddy to run along balancing your bike, you can enjoy riding with more or less confidence for a while, taking it easy until you can speed along with other friends riding, take part in competitions (in our case tests or exams) or heck! even buy an e-bike and face the traffic.

When undertaking exercises at this level you will use more and more of your own expressions and not language that is controlled by the teacher or the studying materials. Monitoring by the teacher is still a prevailing method, but instead of doing drilling type exercises students will now have to deal with simulations of real life situations

Examples of communicative language practice exercises

Let's start from the drill in the previous level, where the students were asking for directions to the 'Pie in the Sky' Restaurant. In that drill they all had the same information available, perhaps including a map indicating the location of the restaurant and the task was to use some set language structures to elicit and to give the necessary information.

In this level the basic principle is that there is a gap between the information given to the two students participating in the dialogue (or to the groups of students, if the exercise is applied to two teams for example). The task is for the students to share information in order to overcome this gap.

One way of organising the information given to the students would be to give them two versions of the same map, with half of the buildings labelled and half of the streets named, whereas the other version would have the other half of the buildings and respectively the streets named. By asking for and giving directions, the two contestants/teams would have to complete their maps with the missing information.

You can 'personalise' the language practice by focussing the discussion on personal information. An example would be to split the students into two teams, each having the task of finding out from their colleagues in the other team who shares certain characteristics, such as who has a brother, who has a sister, who came to school by bus, who has been to London, etc. You can see the multitude of options that can be used for this type of drills, based on vocabulary that has just been taught, revision vocabulary and so on.

What do you achieve with this communicative language practice?

Firstly, the students are practising predictable language, based on vocabulary taught to-date or, at more advanced levels, vocabulary researched previously as part of a homework exercise or an ongoing class research exercise.

Secondly, the students are using this language to communicate new meanings, including meanings which are their own when this is possible.

Both of these features are going to be useful at the next level of language practice - the structured communication.

If you're not ready to proceed further, click here to go back to the pre-communicative language practice level 1 or level 2.

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