Wim Gombert

CHAPTER 2. Communicative Language Teaching 21 LEARNING TO USE VERSUS USING TO LEARN When observing major changes in the L2 learning paradigm through time, they all represent steps in the development from a rather theoretical approach in which L2 learning was thought to contribute to the development of intellectual competence towards a more pragmatic approach, in which L2 competence was considered necessary for the development of communicative skills. Howatt (1984), describing di erent Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) practices, introduced two terms to describe these two approaches to L2 learning and development: “learning to use language”, in which L2 learning leads to L2 use, and “using to learn language”, in which L2 use leads to L2 learning (Howatt, 1984; p. 279). In order to explain the di erences, it is necessary to describe some major steps in the development of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) as a research eld rst and the insights that resulted from these steps. THE EARLY HISTORY OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING Latin, which was the only foreign language studied ve centuries ago, gradually lost its status of language of spoken and written communication from the 16th century onwards, and ‘modern’ languages like French, Italian and English, started being studied as well. Until the 20th century, however, foreign language teaching in these languages was mainly inspired by the study of classical Latin in which grammar analysis and rhetoric were important elements. In so-called “grammar schools”, foreign language learning practice focused on the learning of grammar rules, verb conjugations, translation and on writing accurate sentences (Richards & Rodgers, 2014). is approach to foreign language teaching is generally referred to as the Grammar translation method and its characteristics are summarized in Table 1. TABLE 1. Characteristics of the grammar-translation method 1. The goal of foreign language learning is to be able to read its literature and to develop intellectual abilities. 2. Written skills (reading and writing) are the main focus of teaching. 3. Input is provided by bilingual (L1-L2) word lists (contextualized by means of L2 texts) and grammar rules. 4. Language practice is usually limited to writing correct sentences. 5. Lexical and grammatical accuracy are considered the most important measures in writing. 6. Deductive grammar teaching is the standard (studying the rule is followed by practice through translation). 7. The L1 is used as language of instruction. based on Richards & Rodgers (2014, pp. 6-7)