Teachers ́ perceptions and enactment of the communicative classroom : A qualitative study of four teachers ́ attitudes towards communicative language teaching at upper secondary schools in Sweden

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för språk (SPR)

Abstract: The Swedish syllabus for English promotes a communicative approach to language teaching, but does not offer concrete guidelines regarding how a communicative classroom should be enacted. This leaves a great deal of interpretation up to each individual teacher. The purpose of this study is to observe and understand how teachers at upper secondary schools in Sweden perceive and enact the communitive guidelines stipulated by the syllabus for English. This qualitative study is based on classroom observations combined with semi-structured interviews with four teachers of English at upper secondary schools in Sweden. The findings reveal that the teachers use a range of strategies when enacting their communicative classroom. However, the most significant finding is that there is considerable focus on meaning rather than form across all of the four participants. This suggests that the teachers perceive communicative language teaching largely in terms of a natural approach, where the learning of form happens by itself as long as the target language is used in an anxiety-free classroom environment. Furthermore, corrective feedback on language form is perceived as potentially harmful for the pupils’ willingness to communicate in English, and hence it is largely avoided. Since the latest research in the field of communicative language teaching has restored the significance of form, there is a need for teachers of English to develop strategies that are a hybrid of both meaning- and form-focused activities in order to successfully accomplish all facets of communicative language teaching. The syllabus for English should offer clearer guidelines to support teachers in this endeavour.

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