CONSTRUCTIVISM and COMMUNICATIVE APPROACH
Throughout the history, there have been many theories proposed about learning and teaching. Developments in the field of linguistics have affected these theories, and inspired many approaches for teaching a second language. Beside these approaches, many methods have been created to make teaching more functional and more applicable to learners. Although it is not possible to say that there is only one good approach or method for teaching a second language, some of them can be seen a lot more functional in learning and teaching process.
Constructivism is one the approaches developed throughout the history. Its teaching is based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved in learning process. There are many charactaristics of this approach. Firstly, the learner is active in the classroom. The environment is democratic, which means there is no dominator in the classroom. The activities are interactive and student-centered. Therefore, it can be said that the needs and goals of the learner is focused on and significant in learning process. Lastly, the learner is encouraged to be responsible and autonomous at the same time. The main purpose of this approach is providing tools such as problem-solving and inquirt-based learning activities. Thus, learners can produce their own ideas and test them. Also, they can learn the language with the functions. Learners are always guided by the teacher, but, contruct their kowledge actively rather than memorising things from a textbook. In this approach, the teacher’s role is acting as a facilitator, indentifying errors in understanding and developing a process focused on the needs of the learner. The learner’s role is contructing their own knowledge with the guidance of the teacher, remaining motivated and open to the new activities. Unlike other approaches with certain rules, constructivism can be developed with the needs of the learner.
Communicative approach is one of the most popular methods used by second language teachers nowadays. It is defined as a list of general principles or charactaristics depending on the communication between the teacher and learner, and among the learners. Listening, speaking, reading and writing are integrated for communicative competence. It is characterized by using authentic texts in the learning process, communication through interaction, and, oppotunities for learners to focus on both the language and the learning process itself. Besides, learners’ own experiences are significant element in the process and there is an attempt to link classroom language learning with the language activities outside the classroom. Therefore, the needs and desires of the learner is centered, and it is desired for the learner to use the second language outside of the classroom too. In a classroom, teachers can use group work and cooperation requiring activities, fluency-based activities to encourage learnerr, role-plays to practice and develop language functions, judicious grammar activities and pronunciation-focused activities. The main role of the teacher is being flexible and creative to change techniques when needed and produce effective techniques for the learner. Teachers should affect their students positively and encourage them by active ask and answer questions. Lastly, teachers should facilitate the participation of students in class activities. The role of the learner is participating classroom activities, cooporating with other learners and becoming more comfortable while using the second lamguage.
In Communicative approach, the teacher can use a mixture syllabus depending on the learner’s needs. However, the most important syllabus technique among these syllabus types is function-based syllabus. Unlike many other methods, the purpose of this method is to teach both the structure and its functions. Thus, a type of syllabus such as function-based is pretty significant to this method. In this kind of syllabus, the learning process involves a subject. For example, the learners can be taught greeting phrases such as “Good morning!, Hello! etc.” under this subject. Likewise, the learner can be taught introducing people with the activities such as role-plays and etc. Function-based syllabus has a significant role for the learners to learn a second language through its functions and using it outside of the class too. There is also many activities that the teacher can use under function-based syllabus. For instance, by communicative activities, learners can ask each others directions, or how to get certain places. By information gap activities, the teacher can divide the class into groups and give them an information that the other group does not know. The groups can ask each others questions and they learn the language while using it. Task-completion, information gathering, opnion sharing, information transfer and reasoning gap activities are the other types of activities that the teacher can use in the classroom to provide communication among the learners and encourage them to build their confidence.
Constructivism and Communicative approach can be linked to each others from many perspectives. There are many similar features of these two. In both, learner builds on personal experience, so, the prior knowledge is important. Learner is active and social in learning process, the teacher should take learner’s needs into consideration. Learner is focused on, so, the teacher should be flexible to adapt learner’s needs and desires. Lastly, both of these are centered on learner’s understanding, and the teacher is expected to correct errors in learner’s understanding positively. Because of these similarities, it is a lot easier for a teacher to approach a student by using communicative methods.
English teaching nowadays is one of the most impoartant fields in our world. There are some main reasons for it to be. For instance, billions of people around the world learn English, not just as a hobby but out of economic necessity. The international business world sees English more and more essential everyday. Countries with better English have better incomes. New findings about the English language learning Marketplace. Because of all of these facts, the demand for English learning increases day by day. Therefore, the demand for English teaching increases too and the techniques are being developed. For example, back in time, for rich people, it was easy to travel around the world and learn English in its own environment. However, it was not possible for the poor to learn it in the same way. Poor people had to learn English through textbooks. Recently, people can learn English even with online classes. This gives learners the opportunity to learn English while communicating with people. Communicative approach is a great way of teaching English, but it has both advantages and disadvantages for online English learners. Communication between the teacher and the learner online is hard to build in some ways. For example, since the learner’s personal experience is significant in this method, it is hard for the teacher to reach this information in one class. However, with the developments in these online system, this and this kind of problems may be prevented. For example, there could be “notes” section in the system for the teacher to share opinions with other teachers. In this way, teachers can reach more information about the student. On the other hand, there are many advantages of technology for learners too. People can learn English with acceptable prices and where and when they want. Also, they can get endless information through internet.
To sum up, despite of all the pro’s in different types of approaches and methods, there are some methods which are a lot more applicable to the learners. Constructivism and Communicative approach together is one of the best way to approach students with using the right methods. In this way, learners can learn with teacher’s own way depending on their needs. Therefore, for the learners, English is not only a group of structure, but also another way of communication with people.