Communicative focus
Communicative focus tardor | otoño | autumn Communicative focus
Communicative focus


Communicative focusCommunicative focus

Communicative focusLanguages are the principal means of communication between individuals as members of society. Consequently, as people, we are interested in being able to communicate with others, so that we understand them and can make ourselves understood, in a variety of situations and contexts. This interest in communicating, in interacting, is people's main objective when they speak and, as a result, should also be the objective of a student learning a foreign language. In order to achieve this objective, the learner needs control of the language and that involves equipping oneself not only with a wide range of words and grammatical structures but also, particularly, learning to use the words in different situations and for a variety of purposes.


Communicative classes

On UAB Idiomes courses, we attempt to have the student actively use the language during class to carry out communicative tasks that resemble what we do in real life, in a variety of different situations. Study of grammar and vocabulary thus falls within a more global approach that sees language as a series of linguistic functions. A function is what we do with a language for a given purpose or objective; when we wish to apologise for having done something wrong, for example, or when we want to obtain further information on a particular matter. Linguistic functions encompass the (written and spoken) tasks of receiving and producing in a communicative situation and are a fundamental part of the course programmes.

On the programme for each language, we will find that, for each regular course, a series of general objectives have been established which are further specified with a description of linguistic functions and grammar content. These functions, and grammatical knowledge of the language, help us learn to communicate, both in speech and in writing.

The objective of classes at UAB Idiomes is to achieve the objectives specified on the programme; to this end, given the importance functions have for communication, in the classroom we put the emphasis on interaction. This interaction involves the active participation of the student, who is seen not as a passive being, listening and taking notes, but as the principle vehicle for learning. It is thus vital for the student to communicate, not just with the teacher but also with classmates. Transmitting and receiving information is what we do in our mother tongue and it is what we are attempting to learn to do in the language classroom. For this reason, the teacher designs and uses activities in which the student is an active participant and that participation is fundamental to the learning of a language. We can thus say that, at UAB Idiomes, our methodological approach is a communicative one.

Communicative activities

In order to foster communicative competence in a language, it is necessary to find activities that resemble the sort of activity the student would have to carry out in life outside the classroom. For that reason, the teacher uses activities in which the student has to work in pairs or in groups. Activities of this sort, carried out in groups of students with the teacher's constant supervision, have the advantage of making it possible for each student to have a real opportunity to use language in the classroom. In interaction, each student puts to work not only lexical and grammatical knowledge but also all the strategies that are necessary in order for communication to be successful, whether this involves listening or reading, speaking or writing. Thanks to interaction, we learn greater communicative competence. In communicative activities, it is the student that is responsible for the task being carried out; it is an approach that is action-oriented, one in which all of the student's linguistic abilities come into play and are of importance.

Activities outside the classroom

Learning a language is not something that ends when the student leaves the classroom. It is vital not to lose contact with the language being studied, in order to be able to maintain and improve on everything that has been learnt in class.

How do we evaluate?

The evaluation system used on our regular courses bears in mind the progress the student makes during the course, as well as whether or not the objectives established for the programme have been achieved. For students on UAB Idiomes courses there is thus continuous assessment as well as a final examination.
The continuous assessment tests and examinations at UAB Idiomes reflect the focus used in class. As a result, the student has to demonstrate an acceptable level in the four linguistic skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing). Grammar and vocabulary, while obviously part of any act of communication, are not evaluated separately -except in the case of Catalan and Spanish; the student's lexical and grammatical knowledge is reflected in the evaluation made of the four linguistic skills.

UAB Idiomes Barcelona 2008 - 2009 | Design : Linguaweb

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