It is widely accepted that communication is needed for language learning. Rooted in this idea is the communicative approach to second language acquisition, or Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). Two main principles of CLT are: (1) the development of communicative competence, and (2) the supposition that communication is both an end and a means to language learning (Alcón, 2004). Dell Hymes (1972) identifies the development of “communicative competence” as the main objective of CLT.
Communicative competence is really just a fancy term for the ability to communicate, that is, the ability to efficiently and appropriately use language in a given situation. The idea that communication is both an end and a means to language learning is supported by additional research and theories such as Long’s Interaction Hypothesis. As discussed in my previous blog post, Long argues that interaction and the fine tuning, or negotiation of meaning, of the target language input that occurs in conversational interaction is a driving force for language learning.
Communication is the main goal of using Mango. Following the Communicative Approach to language learning and in agreement with Long’s Interaction Hypothesis, communication is both the end and means to language learning. The Mango System applies this idea by beginning each chapter with an authentic conversation in the target language. The student is then requested to use the target language as they learn it, either by repeating material that was taught or by creating new phrases/chunks out of previously learned material. Once a chapter has been completed the student will then hear the initial conversation again. So the Mango system begins with a conversation, provides input, solicits output, and then ends with a conversation, all of which are elements of communication. With this we can see that Mango applies the concept of communication as a means and end to LL.
So what do you think? Can you learn to communicate without communicating?