Barriers in Implementing Communicative Language Teaching Approach: EFL Learners’ Perspective

Abeer Shujaa Alharbi


Over the last few decades, foreign language teaching has changed, favouring a more communicative-focused approach. However, researchers have reported a number of barriers that may hinder its successful implementation. This study, then, investigates the difficulties that affect the smooth implementation of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) in Saudi EFL classrooms, specifically from the learners’ point of view, as well as the reasons behind them, in order to provide suitable and practical recommendations to different EFL contexts. A mixed-method research, which included a written questionnaire and follow-up interviews, was conducted with 74 Saudi EFL students, all of whom were undergraduate students in their first level and enlisted on a speaking and listening course that adhered to the principles of the Communicative Approach (CA). The results revealed that students had positive attitudes towards conducting communicative activities in their English classes. The study further reported various barriers that students encountered whilst participating in communicative classroom activities: difficulty expressing themselves and organising ideas, low levels of participation, foreign language inhibition, anxiety, an inability to understand others, limited teaching time, and excessive mother tongue use. Moreover, the findings highlighted different reasons for these barriers, such as limited English proficiency, a lack of motivation, teacher and activity-related reasons, and previous instructional practices in schools. Finally, implications for pedagogy were presented based on the findings. These implications should be taken into consideration in order to more effectively implement CLT. Finally, this essay suggests various practical recommendations that educators, teachers, and policy makers can implement in order to maximise the effectiveness of the CLT approach.

Keywords: Communicative Language Teaching, EFL classroom, Saudi learners.

DOI: 10.7176/JEP/12-9-01

Publication date:March 31st 2021

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