Communicative Language Teaching: Practical Difficulties in the Rural EFL Classrooms in Taiwan

Shu-Hsiu Huang


English education in Taiwan has experienced a number of modifications over the past decade. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has initiated several reforms since 1994 with a purpose of changing the pedagogy, focusing on grammar-translation, to a more communicative one aim at cultivating learners of greater communication proficiency for the demands resulting from internationalization and globalization. Although the outcome may be promising, the process has proven to be challenging. The studies regarding Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) in many EFL settings suggested that factors, associated with socio-culture, school administration, classroom dynamics and personnel, have negatively influenced teachers’ willingness to implement CLT. Notwithstanding the comprehensive discussion about the difficulties, rare were they related directly to rural teachers whose experiences might be different from their urban peers. Their distinct insight and impressions are necessary, and therefore worthy of the investigation in order to further understand the whole CLT-resulted phenomena. Using a multi-methodological approach of quantitative survey and qualitative interview, this study aims at uncovering the difficulties rural EFL teachers have encountered when implementing CLT in their classrooms. Seventy-five teachers were surveyed. Based on their participating willingness, 15 of them were further contacted for in-depth interviews. The result of the study revealed that besides the repeated issues, the teachers have faced problems, including students’ low L1 cognitive resources, parents’ indifferent attitudes toward communicative-English education, and the assortment of students of heterogeneous language skills into the same class, which are unique to the rural setting because of geographical and socio-economic confinement.

Keywords: Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), multi-methodological approach, learning motivation, communicative competence

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