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3 Lessons Using the Communicative Approach for Beginners

ESL Lessons Using the Communicative Approach


The Communicative Approach is a natural method for teaching English as a language. As such, communicative are anchored to some common use of the language. The benefit is that learners practice using the target language in the classroom while preparing to use it in the world outside.


Today, we’re going to focus on a few communicative lessons we brushed on in a previous blog. But this time, we’ll delve into more detail. Therefore, we’re going to start with beginner-level lessons this time. Next time, we’ll get into intermediate levels, then advanced levels.


As mentioned previously, using the Communicative Approach with beginner-level students can take various forms. You can use activities that incorporate communicative drills and pair work, then get into dialogues, and finally writing assignments.


The sample lessons listed below can be done progressively within one class period or as standalone lessons over 2-3 meetings.

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1. Communicative Drills


Our first lesson is a creative way to develop natural English skills through drills. Drills are an excellent way to ease lower-level learners into the lesson setting and target language.


A. Focus


What context do you want to focus on? For today’s lesson, let’s use English to talk about what we like to read.


B. Present Target Language


Predict possible language for the situation. Choose common phrases for the topic like curl up with, really into, or my personal library. Select appropriate grammar such as I enjoy + gerund, I like + infinitive, and I like + gerund. Be sure to provide vocabulary that might include hardbacks, soft covers, and e-books. We can also include book genres as part of the vocabulary: self-help, self-improvement, technical, sci-fi, fiction, fantasy, romance, and the like.


C. Set the Stage


Our focus is on chatting with a colleague about what you like to read. This will be the setting for the conversation. It’s real and could happen with your students.


D. Drill


This is where you can get creative. Start with listen and repeat exercises. For example:

What genre do you like to read? → I like reading fiction.

What do you like to read? → I like to read e-books.

When do you usually read? → I usually read in the evenings.

What do you like to curl up with? → I like to curl up with a good fantasy book.


Next, it’s time for drills. Ask the questions while the class answers. After that, if you have a small group, select one or two more proficient students and do it with them. Now that they’re feeling more confident, have learners break into pairs and practice. After a couple of rounds, ask them to replace the key words with their own answers. You can then go around the room and eavesdrop for accuracy.


E. Review and Feedback


While you’re going around listening to learners, try picking up on vocabulary, grammar, and or pronunciation issues that can be shared with the class. As always, try to respect anonymity when referring to the points.

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2. Communicative Dialogues


Dialogues provide structure for communication in everyday settings. As learners improve and gain more confidence, you can have them branch out from drills to dialogues.


A. Focus


Once again, you’ll want to set the stage for this lesson. If it’s a continuation of talking about what you read above, simply review.


B. Present Target Language


Here, you’ll want to include the same language from the drills with perhaps a wider expanse of vocabulary.


C. Set the Stage


Remind class members that they’ll be talking to a colleague during a break, or even before a meeting.


D. Practice in Pairs


After reviewing the dialogue with students, have them pair up and practice. They should do the dialogue as it is written first. Plus, they should do it from both sides. This allows them the opportunity to use the language from two perspectives. After they’ve been warmed up to the dialogue, remove the keywords and ask them to replace wording with what’s true for them.


E. Review and Feedback


Review the lesson points highlighting key takeaways. After that, offer feedback covering grammar, word choice, expression, or clarity that may be common among the class members.

Teaching Reading Skills Using the Communicative Approach

3. Communicative Writing Assignments


Since writing is a part of communication, why not assign writing tasks for beginners. You can do them in class where they have guidance and can be monitored. Or, you can give them work to do at home where they can take their time. It’s your call.


Here, they’re going to take what they’ve discovered in the lesson(s) and be creative. They can write their own answers to the questions. If you’re doing this as a continuation of the previous two modules, it can be assigned as homework.


However, if you want to use this as a standalone lesson, students will write answers to the basic questions of:


What genres can you think of?
What genres do you like to read?
What types of reading materials do you read?
What books do you have in your personal library?
What do you like to curl up to?


Give class time to write their responses. Check their answers if you can, looking for common issues. Then put them in pairs and let them practice. One student will play the roles of the colleague, the other student will be themselves. The colleague will ask the learner questions and field their responses.


This is a unilateral exercise that specifically prepares learners to answer questions. Once they get into higher levels, they will be more capable of the art of bilateral communication. That’s why they should have a strong foundation of what questions may come up and how to answer them.


Wrap Up


When used according to levels, Communicative Language Teaching can be a practical approach in your English language lessons. Today, we’ve shared how to use the Communicative Approach according to the Beginner level. You can use these lesson samples independently or incorporate abbreviated forms into a single 50-minute lesson. Either way, you’ll not just be teaching words and grammar, but how to use English in settings that are realistic for your learners. Next time, we’ll share sample lessons for intermediate levels.


Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about making your lessons more communicative. We have an internationally recognized TESOL training program that can equip you for teaching English to speakers of other languages.

Recommended Reading:

Communicative Approaches to Teaching Listening

Using the Communicative Approach to Teach Vocabulary

Teach Grammar Using The Communicative Approach: Functions and Structures

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