Originally uploaded by Johannes de Jong_
Recently, I have been interviewing several ESL teachers and teacher trainers and I find I had to rethink a few matters with regard to teaching oral language. Since the 80s it has been politically correct to describe oneself as a ‘communicative teacher’ during job interviews. Every ESL teacher knows that. The communicative approach states that tasks should provide the learners language to use in order to communicate meanings without focusing on accuracy. In other words, fluency is encouraged as fluency leads to creativity and the independence of a language learner. A central issue with this approach comes from asking the question: How can accuracy and fluency come together? Any answer to that question involves the instructor deciding on a range of discourse skills taught to a particular audience. For example first graders who are playground-fluent in language may need a discourse emphasis on accuracy in an academic context relevant to their maturity level. Adults may need more discourse tasks having to do with fluency and integrating such skills into what they have learned in grammatical drilling (if that is the way that they had learned a little English abroad).