The use of communicative language teaching approach in the teaching of communication skills courses in Tanzanian universities

Author/s:

Nyinondi, Onesmo Simon*
Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania (onesmon@hotmail.com)

Mhandeni, Abdulkarim Shaban
Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania (amhandeni@gmail.com)

Mohamed, Hashim Issa
Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania (mohhashim@gmail.com)

Abstract:

English has been used as a medium of instruction in secondary schools and universities in Tanzanian. Pedagogical practice in these levels has however, continued to generate huge challenges in the education system. Considerable amount of time is wasted by students grappling with the language of instruction instead of learning their other subjects. In universities, Communication Skills (CS) course was introduced primarily to enable students apply the existing knowledge of English to particular skills in order to respond to specific academic communicative needs in their disciplines. But, students’ existing knowledge of English at the moment of joining the university, is often so inadequate to have any meaningful application of such knowledge. This happens against the backdrop of a paradigm shift where communicative language teaching (CLT) has currently permeated pedagogical practice globally. In the current study, the researchers undertook to investigate how universities in Tanzania have been able to implement Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach in the teaching of Communication Skills Courses. Researchers used qualitative study design through interviews of students and staff, focus group interviews with staff, documentary analyses of CS courses, and classrooms Observations. The findings reveal that inadequacy of CS as competency based course, diversity of students in language abilities and disciplines, localization of teaching material, and instructors’ authority working against students’ autonomy have been compromising students’ development of academic communication competence. The study recommends for a scrutiny of CS curricular to make them more competent based, specific and connected to communication rather than linguistic minutia.

Keywords: communicative language teaching; communication skills; universities; English language

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrsll.2016.1528

*Corresponding Author