Does Communicative Language Teaching Really Work? A Critical Appraisal

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Farhangian University, Khorramabad, Iran

2 Shahreza Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran


When asked to identify the methodology they employ in their classrooms, most teachers claim to use “Communicative Language Teaching” (CLT). Even with the shift of attention from insistence on methods toward post method condition, CLT has not lost its dominance in ELT. However, most teachers neither stop such a claim nor think critically why they do so. Therefore, this paper is an attempt to go through a critical appraisal of Communicative Language Teaching. This is done first by going through a brief review on the basic claims, tenets, barriers and problems of implementing CLT especially in EFL contexts. Then, a framework is proposed touching upon the shortcomings of the available models and theories for criticizing language teaching methods. Finally, it looks at how the design is implemented in practice by focusing on CLT and examines the framework based on the claims and tenets of CLT, with particular reference to research findings and available literature. It is argued that CLT helps learners in building automaticity and self-confidence; empowering meaningful learning; developing intrinsic motivation; employing multiplicity of strategies; and fending for learners’ language ego. Culture, sociopolitical consciousness and interlanguage stages of development are important to CLT. It allows for the initiative of the learner and is most probable to be informed by a mediation rather than medium view. However, there are several problems with CLT. The most important one is in regard with the practicality, unilaterality, and non reflexivity of method. Moreover, it assumes teachers as helpless victims of ideological imposition and disregards their agency in the teaching / learning process.