Communicative Language Teaching: An Expanding Concept for a Changing World
Of course no approach or method can be defined completely unambiguously, since there are too many variables that intervene between theoretical conception, explicit formulation and practical implementation. The audiolingual method may serve as an example. By the 1960s it seemed that its principles and practices had been neatly defined in works such as Brooks (1964), so that on this basis, a research team directed by Philip D. Smith could embark on the large-scale experimental Pennsylvania Project in schools to demonstrate the superiority of this method over “traditional” cognitive methods. The results (which the director described as “personally traumatic” to the project staff) proved to be inconclusive and in the controversy that resulted, a common conclusion was precisely this problem of definition that bedevils CLT: although the audiolingual method had been extensively described in both principle and practice, and the teacher-participants had been given clear guidelines on how to use it, it was found that when they came to actually implement it, they did so in significantly different ways (see Lynch, 1996, pp. 26-30, for description and analysis).