"Learning is finding out what we already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers." -- Richard Bach
COMPETENCY-BASED LANGUAGE TEACHING –CBLT– It is an application of the principles of Competency-Based Education to language teaching.
BACKGROUND • Competency-Based Education (CBE) is an educational movement which emerged in the United States in the 1970s. This movement presents a pattern that is focused on the outputs to learning. • It defines the goals and objectives to be reached in such a way, that students´ knowledge, skills and behaviors, can be easily measured. Besides, students develop the ability to use their knowledge in real life situations.
In addition, Competency-Based Language Teaching (CBLT) follows the ideology of CBE, and it is perceived as a powerful agent which can have a positive impact on teaching, since through the implementation of the standards, both teachers and students can have a clear direction of what is expected to be achieved at the end of a course.
APPROACH • According to the theory of language learning, CBLT is based on function and interaction of language, what means that language is taught taking into account the social context and the communicative needs of students. • On the other hand, it is also based on the behaviorist view, since it shares the principle that learners can infer language form from language function, thus, CBLT competences designers know exactly the vocabulary and the structures that can be found in different situations and they strategically place them in the different teaching/learning units.
CBLT is also built around the notion of communicative competence and seeks to develop functional communication skills in learners. • CBLT thus shares some features with Communicative Language Teaching. • Outcome is other dimension of the process of communication and is central in CBLT. Outcomes are the starting point in program planning with the Communicative Language Teaching. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AazPkAD-65w
"Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.“ -- Nikos Kazantzakis
DESIGN • When talking about the objectives and the syllabus that are going to be implemented in a course, CBLT focuses on competencies. • It provides teachers with the necessary tools and parameters to design their syllabuses and its objectives and enhances students to learn the language and to know how and when to use it in a determined moment of their lives.
Teachers play an essential role, since they are the ones who are going to provide students with the appropriate activities and learning materials which are related to their real lives, so that students can be communicatively competent in real situations. • To achieve this, teachers must be excellent observers of the context that surround students and take into account the main needs they have to design matched syllabuses.
Auerbach (1986) provides a useful review of factors involved in the implementation of CBE programs in ESL, and identifies eight key features:
A focus on successful functioning in society. The goal is to enable students to become autonomous individuals capable of coping with the demands of the world.
2. A focus on life skills. CBLT teaches language as a function of communication about concrete tasks. Ss are taught just those language forms/skills required by the situations in which they function.
3. Task- or performance-centered orientation. What counts is what Ss can do as a result of instruction.
4. Modularized Instruction. Objectives are broken into narrowly focused sub-objectives so that both teachers and students can get a clear sense of progress.
5. Outcomes that are made explicit a priori. They are specified in terms of behavioral objectives so that Ss know exactly what behaviors are expected of them.
6. Continuous and ongoing assessment. Program evaluation is based on test results and, as such, is considered objectively quantifiable.
7. Demonstrated mastery of performance objectives. Rather than the traditional paper-and-pencil tests, assessment is based on the ability to demonstrate pre-specified behaviors.
8. Individualized, student-centered instruction. Instruction is not time-based; Ss progress at their own rates and concentrate on just those areas in which they lack competence.
On the other hand, the competency approach has many advantages for learners. Firstly, competencies are precise and useful. It means that they are well defined and that they can be related to what students need and to what is appealing to them. • Secondly, they can be constructively criticized by students, since they can judge whether they are pertinent and helpful in their learning process.
As a third point, competencies need to be socialized with students, so that they can specifically know what they need to learn and what is going to be tested in the course. In this way, students are going to be aware of their learning process and the goals they need to achieve. • Finally, they can be gradually develop in different stages of the process, so that Ss discern what they have learned and what they still need to learn to achieve the set of competencies of the course. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtwDhKso2No
PROCEDURE • After an initial assessment, Ss are placed within the framework on the basis of their current English proficiency level, their learning pace, their needs, and their social goals for learning English. • The competency descriptions at divided into four domains:
Knowledge and learning competencies. • Oral competencies • Reading competencies • Writing competencies
"They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel." - Carol Buchner
CONCLUSION • To sum up, it can be said that CBLT is an educational movement that has been introduced in several places of the world, since people need to face the demands of it. • It provides learners with the essential tools to interact successfully in society, enhancing them to use their knowledge to solve different real life situations.
Furthermore, CBLT involves teachers’ great knowledge of student's context, interests and needs and the development of different standards that enrich and lead the teaching-learning process, so that learners know exactly what they need to learn to be communicatively competent.