The focus of attention here is on the types of exercise which might be
devised to translate general ideas about communicative language teaching
into classroom procedures. Both papers in this section take up the princi-
ple expressed in the one preceding that teaching materials should engage
the learner’s active participation by making overt appeal to what he
already knows; and both apply this principle to the business of practical
exercise design. Notice that by participation I do not mean the conduct-
ing of orchestrated responses from a class under the direction of the
teacher, which is a familiar feature of current pedagogic practice, but a
real exercise of learner initiative in bringing his own knowledge and expe-
rience to bear on the learning process.
These papers, then, are attempts to think certain ideas through to their
practical consequences. Unless one makes this kind of attempt, one is eas-
ily led astray by the allure of the ideas themselves, made all the more
attractive by their apparent novelty. An awareness of this danger under-
lies the discussion in the first paper of this section. It was written at a time
when the concept of communicative or notional syllabuses was beginning
to take on the character of a new creed. It seemed to me then, and it seems
even more to me now, that such a concept was only a stimulating specula-
tion with which to open a debate (see Paper in Section Eight below).
Unfortunately, it has been widely adopted as a conclusion and people are
busy not investigating but implementing it. Most of the real problems of
applying a communicative approach are, in consequence, left unexplored.
The papers here reflect my feeling that one is less likely to be misled into
zealotry if one begins not at the selection stage but at the presentation
stage of the language teaching process. Apart from anything else, this
provides the context where one actually encounters the learner.
5 Two types of communication exercise
The title of this conference is testimony t