A Critical Review of Stephan Bax's Article "The End of CLT"

Literature Review, 2009

7 Pages


A Critical Review of Stephan Bax's Article: The End of CLT: A Context Approach to Language Teaching

The last century has observed remarkable developments in the variety of teaching methods. The reason why such changes happen all the time seems to be the convention that all previously adopted methods did not fulfil all requirements of language learning. In the context of the communicative language approach, in spite of its enormous spread worldwide and its dominance on language teachers today, a number of linguists and teachers suggest that it is time to replace CLT with a more efficient and productive method.

Bax (2003) argues that although CLT has served the language for quite a long time in different aspects, it has however ignored one vital element in language learning, namely the context in which the learning process takes place. Furthermore, he continues to claim that it is prime time to replace CLT as a perfect paradigm with a more suitable and rewarding approach such as a context approach. (Bax, 2003)

This essay has been divided into three main sections. The first section will give a brief description of CLT and its initial purpose followed by a number of contrasting arguments and attitudes. This section is summarised by some comments on Bax's view towards CLT.

The second section sheds lights on the context approach and its properties which is seen by Stephen Bax as a better alternative paradigm to CLT. The validity of this approach is evaluated critically through its characteristics.

The last section suggests some strategies and puts forward certain criteria which may help teachers adopt the most appropriate method according to students' needs and weaknesses.

The core purpose of this essay is therefore to generally agree with Bax's view concerning the crucial importance of learning about the local context in relation to language learning. However, there will be some comments on this approach as to test the possibility of applying it in the future.

Communicative Approach

- The Role of CLT in Learning a Language

The emergence of CLT by the 1980's is said to be the result of the shortcomings observed in the previously adopted approaches. After applying it for quite a long time, some teachers were somehow convinced that all teaching methods such as the Audio-Lingual Method, the Grammar Translation Method and the Direct Method partly failed to cover some of the students' needs in terms of developing their personal skills. In other words, each of the above mentioned approaches has only a main focus which was believed to be the major cornerstone on which other skills could be built. (Bax, 2003, 278)

When CLT emphasizes communication as a major key to language learning, it actually, by doing so, seeks independence for its students to develop their language skills more effectively through interactive courses. Through pair work activities and peer reviews, students would have better opportunities to become more involved in daily conversations as well as working on their weaknesses based on peer reviews and the feedback of the teacher from time to time.

- Contrastive Views About CLT

Swan, M., (1985) discusses the idea that the communicative approach ignores a vital element in language learning; namely the function of L1 in understanding a foreign language. He, however, contradicts this idea saying that teachers inside the classroom feel uncomfortable when they have to be passive in the classroom. He continues to argue that language learning would be more rewarding if classroom activities reflect a real life as far as possible.

Similarly, Harmer J., (2003) assumes that "the problem with communicative language teaching (CLT) is that the term has always meant a multitude of different things to different people". He presumes that proponents of this method share a belief that CLT is communication exercises which are the ultimate solution for language acquisition.

- Bax's Attitude Towards CLT as a Teaching Method


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A Critical Review of Stephan Bax's Article "The End of CLT"
Misurata University  (Faculty of Education)
English Language Teaching
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critical, review, stephan, article
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Mohamed Ben Nasr (Author), 2009, A Critical Review of Stephan Bax's Article "The End of CLT", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/313595


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