By a communicative activity, we mean motivated activities and topics which involve the students in authentic communication. In communicative activities, students will find themselves in various real-life situations where the target language must be used.
Because the focus is not on learning specific language features but on using the language they master as the circumstances require, students can learn and acquire the language subconsciously, most importantly, students can learn to use their ideas, pass on their ideas and receive ideas, in this way to enlarge their vocabulary and broaden their knowledge.
But what comes after activities like group work or role play? After such activities, the whole class discussion should follow in order to have a comprehensive understanding. At this stage, teacher’s skill in using the questions is critical.
The language that you ask questions should be simple, clear, easy to understand, including vocabulary that students are familiar with. It’s a necessity that the language of questions be simplified in spite of the profound meaning of the questions.
Questions you ask should correspond with students’ level of knowledge, capability of thinking. The purpose of communicating is to tempt the students to express opinions, to exchange different understanding or ideas, is there any point in inhibiting their expression by questions beyond their knowledge and questions that they cannot control?
Simplifying or moderating questions does not mean asking questions which need easy answers, it’s useless or meaningless to ask such questions. The questions should have a certain degree of difficulty where students’ language skills, thinking skills, and level of knowledge are concerned, thus they will be of greater challenge. The correct answers to such challenging questions would bring students much self-confidence and play an important role in the development of students’ abilities.
When students’ answers are inadequate, incomplete, teachers should continue to ask questions, through such means as giving hints or suggestion to help students give the right answers. When the questions are correctly answered, teachers should also ask further questions on the basis of their answers, so that the questions become more and more profound to inspire students to discuss. All these will enhance the sense of participation.
To conclude, implementing communicative activities will provide more opportunities for subconscious assimilation and open more channels of communication to the target community. Not only teachers but also students will benefit a lot from such activities.
H, H, Stern. (1996). Issues and Options in Language Teaching. Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.
Wang, Duqin. (2002). On Strategies of English Teaching. Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.