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Communicative Language Teaching (CLT): Practical Understandings

Author(s): Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

Source: The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 83, No. 4 (Winter, 1999), pp. 494-517
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers
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Communicative Language Teaching

(CLT): Practical Understandings


Centre for Language Teaching and Research Centre for Language Teaching and Research
The University of Queensland

The University of Queensland

Brisbane QLD 4072

Brisbane QLD 4072



Email: yoshis@usiwakamaru.

Email: robertk@lingua. arts. uq. edu. au

The aim of this article is to report on a study that documented the views and practices of
communicative language teaching (CLT) by Japanese second language inservice teachers.
Compared to theoretical developments of CLT (e.g., see Savignon, 1991), little is known
about what second language teachers actually understand by CLT and how they implement
CLT in classrooms. Using multiple data sources including interviews, observations, and surveys, the article reports how teachers defined CLT and implemented it in their classrooms.
The study identified how teachers actually dealt with CLT in their classrooms teaching Japanese. It is interesting to note that their views and actions dealt little with the academic
literature pertaining to CLT or their education (be it preservice or inservice) in learning
about CLT. Instead, teachers resorted to their personal ideas and experiences, solidifying
their notions of foreign language (L2) teaching in further pursuing their evolving conceptions of CLT.


tion, we begin by defining CLT by using various
idea of communicative competence and Canale sources from academia and government policy to
and Swain (1980) considered its implications for highlight some of the numerous views from these
language teaching, communicative languageparticular perspectives. We further include an
teaching (CLT) (Savignon, 1991) has achievedAustralian context to help define CLT from a

prominence. Conference papers, articles, andpolicy perspective, while also allowing such inforbooks abound that support and promote CLT. In mation to situate our study. We then explore the
the main, scholars advance CLT by exploring itsrelevance of teacher beliefs, knowledge, and
meaning and use in classrooms. Writers considerpractices. Here we review CLT investigations and
various facets and mutations of CLT, providinghighlight the complexity of understanding relavaluable codification of CLT elements (e.g.,
tionships among beliefs, knowledge, and pracBerns, 1990; Brown, 1994; Howatt, 1984; Little- tices. Inherent in such a presentation is the need
wood, 1981; Mitchell, 1988; Richards & Rodgers, to explore change. This we do briefly, with the
1986; Savignon, 1983, 1997; Savignon & Berns, discussion culminating in offering the research
1984, 1987; Schulz & Bartz, 1975). Even within questions. Our intent here is to argue for a theothe expanding literature concerning CLT, how- retical base from language teachers' perspectives.
ever, its meaning for practitioners receives scant We next outline the research methodology for
the project. This combined information positions
the presentation of our findings, followed by a
In this research project, we document second
language (Japanese) teachers' CLT using their

of issues.

perspectives.1 To set the stage for this investigaCOMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING

The Modern Language Journal, 83, iv, (1999)

0026-7902/99/494-517 $1.50/0
?1999 The Modern LanguageJournal

Savignon (1983, 1997) suggested that a classroom model of communicative competence in-

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

cludes Canale and Swain's (1980, later refined in

Canale, 1983) four components that are grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence,

discourse competence, and strategic competence. She further proposed five components of
a communicative curriculum that include lan-

and receptively" (Brown, 1994, p. 245, italics

original). Richards and Rogers (1986) concluded

Communicative Language Teaching is best considered an approach rather than a method. Thus although a reasonable degree of theoretical consis-

guage arts, language for a purpose, personal sectency can be discerned at the levels of language and
ond language (L2) use, theater arts, and beyond
learning theory, at the levels of design and procedure
the classroom (Savignon, 1983, 1997). These
is much greater room for individual interpretaments together help support both theoretical
tion and variation than most methods permit. (p. 83)
and practical foundations for CLT. Yet, it is clear
perspectives, among others, offer possibilithat Savignon (1997) did not rely on theseThese
as the
sole arbitrator of CLT. In particular, withties
of what CLT is, and their various authors give
to the four competences she concluded, ideas of what can transpire in a L2 classroom. Yet,
not all views of CLT are necessarily the domain of
Whatever the relative importance of the various comacademicians. As will be discussed next, national
ponents at any given level of overall proficiency, one

and state initiatives give an additional view of

must keep in mind the interactive nature of their

relationships. The whole of communicative compeunderstand CLT in Australia better, we offer
tence is always something other than the simpleTosum
of its parts. (p. 50)

an overview of this country's recent (second) lan-

guage initiatives. The past 20 years in Australia

have been supportive of and exciting for the
riculum components. Moreover, Savignon (1991)
teaching of foreign languages or Languages

The same could also be said about the five curcast an even wider net over what influences and

challenges the promotion of CLT:

Other Than English (LOTE), as they are pres-

ently called. Clyne, Jenkins, Chen, Tsokalidou,

Wallner (1995) overviewed the latest initial
CLT thus can be seen to derive from a multidisciplipush regarding languages in Australia. They renary perspective that includes, at least, linguistics,
ported that in 1976 the Committee on the Teachpsychology, philosophy, sociology, and educational
research. The focus has been the elaboration and
ing of Migrant Languages in Schools (CTMLS)
implementation of program and methodologies
that, starting in their primary
promote the development of functional language
years, children be given opportunities to learn
ability through learner participation in communicaother languages and understand other cultures.
tive events. Central to CLT is the understanding of
They further relayed that a Senate report (1984)
language learning as both an educational and polition national language policy advocated principles
cal issue. (p. 265)
such as competence in English, maintenance and
To be sure, there are other conceptualizations
development of languages other than English,
of communicative competence and CLT. For
and inopportunities for learning L2s. This report
stance, Bachman (1990) charted a theoretical
eventually led to the National Policy on Lanframework for communicative language ability guages (Lo Bianco, 1987) "which actually recomthat includes knowledge structures, strategic mended implementation strategies and governcompetence, psychophysiological mechanisms, ment spending in innovative areas which were
context of situation, and language competence. accepted by the federal government" (Clyne et
Language competence is further divided into or- al., 1995, p. 6).
ganizational competence (grammatical and texThe development of students' communicative
tual competences) and pragmatic competence skills in L2s was emphasized around the same
(illocutionary and sociolinguistic competences). time. The Australian Language Levels (ALL) ProjBrown (1994) proposed a definition of CLT to ect responded to the Senate (1984) and Lo Biinclude the following issues: (a) "Classroom goals anco (1987) policies on languages and developed
are focused on all of the components of commu- curriculum ideas for the teaching of L2. Austranicative competence"; (b) "Language techniques lian Language Levels (ALL) Guidelines (Scarino,
are designed to engage learners in the pragmatic, Vale, McKay, & Clark, 1988) were published and
authentic, functional use of language for mean- subsequently Pocket ALL (Vale, Scarino, & McKay,
ingful purposes"; (c) "Fluency and accuracy are 1991) was published as a handy teacher's guide.
seen as complementary principles underlying These guidelines included topics such as the eight
communicative techniques"; and (d) "students principles of language learning, the goals of lanultimately have to use the language, productively guage learning, the table of language use, devel-

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The Modern LanguageJournal 83 (1999)

oping modules for a syllabus, resources, and as- LOTE teachers in L2 learning and teaching envi-

sessment. Each state followed ALL Guidelines and


developed and wrote language syllabi. The

Queensland Department of Education (1989),


for instance, promoted the five ALL goals for language learning: a communication goal, a soWe highlight the importance of teacher belief

ciocultural goal, a learning-how-to-learn goal,

in a
this project, for as Pajares (1992) acknow
language and cultural awareness goal, and
in his synthesis of 35 empirical educatio
"All teachers hold beliefs, howev
knowledge goal. Among these goals, emphasisinvestigations,
defined and labeled, about their work, their st
placed upon communication: "Language-learntheir subject matter, and their roles an
ing programs are aimed at the developmentdents,
(p. 314). However, a variety
communicative competency in a particular responsibilities"
lanconceptions of educational beliefs appears in t
guage" (p. v). As a result, various LOTE syllabi
followed these general guidelines. The Japanese
literature.2 Citing Nespor's (1987) influent

work, Pajares suggested that "beliefs are far mo

Senior Syllabus, for example, referred to the prithan knowledge in determining ho
mary objective by stating that "by the end of influential
12, learners should be able to communicate in
individuals organize and define tasks and pro

standard Japanese" (Board of Senior School Sec- lems and are stronger predictors of behavior"
ondary Studies, 1995, p. 4). In addition, the six 311). Pajares promoted 16 "fundamental assum
assessment criteria tasks that LOTE teachers were
tions that may reasonably be made when initi
ing a study of teachers' educational beliefs"
to implement included:
324). These assumptions include, among othe
1. Assess the students' ability to communicate inthe notions that (a) beliefs are formed early a
tend to self-perpetuate; (b) some beliefs are mo
the language.
2. Use authentic texts.
incontrovertible than others; (c) beliefs about
3. Give students the opportunity to speak and teaching are well established by the time a st
write from their own experience.
dent gets to college; (d) changes in beliefs duri
adulthood are rare; (e) beliefs are instrument
4. Call for unrehearsed responses from the student.

in defining tasks and selecting the cognitive too

5. Allow students' responses to be matched towith which to interpret, plan, and make decisio

criteria and standards.

regarding such tasks; (f) individuals' belie

6. Provide informative feedback to students tostrongly affect their behavior; and (g) knowledg
and beliefs are inextricably intertwined (for com
allow them to manage their own learning. (Board
of Senior Secondary School Studies, 1996, p. 1,plete discussion of all 16 assumptions, see Pajar
1992, pp. 324-326).
italics original)
The tenuous relationship between beliefs an
These criteria follow the ALL Guidelines (Scarinoknowledge creates a possible tension. Althoug
Pajares (1992) readily admitted that it is diffic
et al., 1988). In short, over the past 2 decades the
promotion of LOTE learning and the develop- to distinguish knowledge from beliefs, he argu
ment of LOTE students' communicative skills
Nespor's (1987) point "that beliefs have strong
affective and evaluative components than know
have been promoted vigorously in national and

edge and that affect typically operates ind

state policy documents. LOTE teachers in schools
pendently of the cognition associated with know
during the past decade have received either train-

edge" (p. 309). Richardson (1996) seeming

ing or inservices in CLT because of the national
agreed that although the distinction between
and state initiatives to develop students' commuliefs and knowledge remains fuzzy, beliefs inf
nicative abilities in LOTE. There is little insight,
ence teaching practice more directly than kno
however, into how LOTE (Japanese) teachers
edge and that the "relationship between beli
perceive these views and implement these ideas.
and actions is interactive" (p. 104). Moreover
There is also a dearth of information concerning
(1994) assigned the teacher the r
how LOTE teachers perceive the views of Richardson
academicians. LOTE teachers' beliefs, knowlof one who mediates ideas, constructs meani
knowledge, and acts upon those construc
edge, and practice of CLT remain somewhat ofand
tions. She maintained that, in order to undermystery in the CLT literature. Yet, as we will see
stand how teachers make sense of teaching and
next, it is precisely teachers' beliefs, knowledge,
one should focus on teachers' beliefs
and practice that need to be reviewed in order learning,
and practices. (Such a view appears to contrast
understand better just how CLT is understood by

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

slightly with the view that teachers' decision-mak-

classrooms, they offered students few opportuni-

ing is based upon knowledge and skills [e.g.,

ties for genuine communicative language use in

the class sessions that he recorded. Although the
lesson plans of these teachers might have conformed to the sorts of communicative principles
advocated in the CLT literature, the actual pat-

Shulman, 1986, 1987]).

Regardless of theoretical stance, empirical

studies consistently reveal the difficulties of pro-

moting knowledge and skills that challenge or

contradict currently held beliefs and practices
(see, e.g., the reviews by Richardson, 1996, and

Wideen, Mayer-Smith, & Moon, 1998). In L2

teacher studies in general, there is definitely a

terns of classroom interaction resembled tradi-

tional patterns rather than what he identified as

genuine interaction. Karavas-Doukas (1996) reported similar findings in the responses of 14
Greek teachers of English to an attitude survey

tendency for those studied to rely on their preconceived beliefs, and there appears to be little
alteration in traditionally (form focus, teacher-

and in the observations she made of their class-

led) held images of L2 teaching (see, e.g,

toward agreement with CLT principles, but when

rooms. She found that the survey results leaned

Johnson, 1994; Lamb, 1995; Neustupny, 1981). she observed the classroom teaching environNonetheless, studies that specifically single out ments, "classroom practices (with very few exceptypical CLT also reveal glimpses of links among tions) deviated considerably from the principles
beliefs, knowledge, and practices. On the one of the communicative approach" (p. 193). Alhand, a few studies show little change in teacher though she acknowledged that there were
beliefs, knowledge, or practice, whereas, on the glimpses of communicative approaches, the
other hand, a few studies reveal the possibility for teachers in her sample favored traditional ones.
change in teacher beliefs, knowledge, or practice. In this case, traditional meant, "Most lessons were
Thus, these studies provide evidence that the teacher-fronted and exhibited an explicit focus
challenges found in L2 teaching literature are on form" (p. 193).
little different from the controversy in the wider As indicated earlier, not all of the news is bleak.
teaching literature. The extent to which teachers Okazaki (1996) completed a longitudinal study

can or will actually change is an issue within using surveys to find out whether preservice

teacher education, regardless of discipline.

For example, Thompson (1996) discovered

teachers changed their beliefs concerning CLT

after a 1-year methodology course. She con-

four misconceptions that were common among cluded that although beliefs of preservice teachhis colleagues concerning the meaning of CLT: ers were not easily swayed, some of them were

(a) not teaching grammar, (b) teaching only influenced in the desired direction by what Wenspeaking, (c) completing pair work (i.e., role den (1991) called persuasive communication,

play), and (d) expecting too much from teachers. which aims at changing participants' beliefs by
Thompson mentioned that a surprisingly large reflective teaching. For example, she reported
number of teachers invoke erroneous reasoning that the teachers' emphasis increased on such
for criticizing or rejecting CLT. He concluded items as the learner's role and decreased on such
that the future development of CLT depended items as pronunciation and error corrections. Kuupon correcting these misconceptions. Fox maravadivelu (1993) studied two teachers whom
(1993) surveyed first-year French graduate teach- he identified as "'believers' in the CLT moveing assistants at 20 universities in the U.S. and ment" (p. 14), and who both had masters degrees
analyzed their responses according to the defini- in ESL. With one teacher he promoted the effections of communicative competence (CC) set tiveness of five macrostrategies for successful CLT
forth by Canale and Swain (1980). She reported (see also Kumaravadivelu, 1992). He then tranthat teaching assistants did not conceptualize lan- scribed the two teachers' classes and concluded
guage according to this particular model of CC. that the episodes showed "different kinds of classInstead, the participants relied on grammar at room input and interaction" (p. 18). One group
the expense of communicative activities. She con- was motivated, enthusiastic, and active. The same
cluded that their beliefs about language teaching group in the second session was less motivated,
and learning should be exposed so that they less enthusiastic, and much less active. Although
could develop their beliefs and knowledge about he identified session one as a speaking class, and
session two as a grammar class, he believed that
Even teachers committed to CLT often seem to

the use of the macrostrategies given to the

teacher in session one "contributed to this reshow a very superficial adherence to CLT principles. As Nunan (1987) discovered, although themarkable variation in the communicative nature
teachers in his study had goals for communicative
of the two episodes" (p. 18). Regardless of the

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The Modern LanguageJournal 83 (1999)

theoretical and practical problems of such a

study, Kumaravadivelu (1993) claimed effectiveness for strategy training with regard to teachers'
uses of CLT. In a study concerning L2 teaching in

more general terms, Freeman (1993) maintained

that four foreign language teachers (citing two
illustrations) changed their ideas about teaching
when they were introduced to the discourse of
current professional issues and notions.
In summary, the controversy in the teacher

change literature about teachers' beliefs and

practices continues. As Richardson (1996) commented:

feature in this literature is that someone outside the

classroom decides what changes teachers will make.

(p. 11, italics original)

It is interesting to note that Nunan (1987) and

Kamaravadivelu (1992, 1993, 1994) offered evidence (from "someone outside the classroom")
that highlighted this specific issue within the L2
teaching profession. For instance, Nunan identified strategies, such as using referential questions
that could be used to increase the opportunities
for genuine communication, and Kumaravadivelu increased from 5 to 10 the number of

macrostrategies that might now come to inf

ence the ideas of a principled communicat

Perhaps the greatest controversy in the teacher

change literature relates to the difficulty in changing

(see Celce-Murcia, Dornyei, & Th

rell, 1997). However, neither of the authors

beliefs and practices. For some scholars, beliefs are

thought to be extremely difficult, if not impossible plained

how the teachers adapted the referen

change. This apparent difficulty is often used as an

questions or macrostrategies into situation-sp
explanation of the sense that teachers are recalcitrant
cific problems or how the teachers develope
and do not like to change. Another group of scholars
their beliefs, knowledge, and practice with reg
and educators, however, are optimistic that teachers
to CLT. In other words, the authors seemed to
and teacher education students can change and, in
have ignored the teachers' actual developmental
fact, often do change their beliefs and practices, and
and stages, or else they neglected to
that programs can help them do so in significant and
uncover and document how the teachers actually
worthwhile directions. (p. 110)
dealt with an innovation such as CLT.

Such a comment may be a bit shortsighted, ifIn short, these studies, reviews, and narratives
not overgeneralized. Many of the studies cited
portray the complexity of the issues pertaining to
above neither integrate information from a varibeliefs, knowledge, and practices and focus on the
ety of data sources nor give a complete picture of
interplay among them. Despite the theoretical dethe interaction among beliefs, knowledge, and
velopments and policy acceptance of CLT for nu-

practice. Some relied on scales or interviews

merous L2 learning environments, many quesalone, others completed only observations, while
tions linger concerning how teachers think about
still others tried surveys and observations but
and use CLT in classrooms. It seems worthwhile to

omitted interviews. Most of the studies concern-

investigate further the perspectives of L2 teaching CLT mentioned the fact that multiple data
ers, that is, how they view, learn about, and implesources would eventually help address the limitament CLT. In addition, within the Australian contions of the work already completed. Moreover,
text of teachingJapanese in high schools, there is
many of the L2 teacher studies concerning CLT
little known about inservice LOTE teachers' perseemed to rely on the extent to which the pracspectives about CLT. These teachers of Japanese
tice of CLT notions adhered to CLT principles as
in Australia have identified such problems in their
put forth in the professional literature. Richardteaching as articulation, low proficiency level, and
son (1990) pointed out in more global terms the
lack of quality inservices, good materials, and
difficulties educational change issues bring to

school support (Kawagoe, 1989; Koide, 1976).


Nonetheless these inservice LOTE (Japanese)

teachers have not been studied in any great
It is important, however, to note that change, researchbased or otherwise, is defined in this literature as
depth, especially regarding their ideas about CLT
teachers doing something that others are suggesting

and practice. This omission triggers several

they do. Thus, the change is deemed as good or broader questions: How is teachers' knowledge
appropriate, and resistance is viewed as bad or inap- about CLT developed or understood in light of
propriate. Even the recent work that is more sensitive the fact that national and state directives urge the

to teachers' norms and beliefs fails to question the

acquisition of communicative LOTE abilities?
reforms themselves (Donmoyer, 1987). Further, the
How are teachers implementing CLT ideas at the
constant changes that teachers make when meeting
classroom level? How do teachers actually teach in
the changing needs of the students in the classroom

or trying out ideas that they hear from other teachers

is not recognized in these formulations. A critical

language classrooms in a country and state that

promote communicative competence? These un-

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

answered questions guided this investigation and

promoted the analysis undertaken for this article.

1 male). Three teachers had less than 3 years

experience teaching Japanese, 3 teachers had 3
to 6 years teaching experience, 2 teachers had 6
to 10 years teaching experience, and 2 teachers
had 10 to 13 years teaching experience.3 Their
professional preparation also varied. Four teachers (including the nativeJapanese speaker) com-

Our overall goal was to uncover teachers' beliefs

and knowledge about CLT in connection with

their practices in an Australian context-a goal
overlooked and understudied by both researchers
and policy-makers. The following questions pro-

vided focus:

pleted a Postgraduate Diploma in Education-a

1-year course-and 1 holds a Master of Arts in

1. What are Japanese LOTE teachers' beliefs
Applied Linguistics. Three teachers holding the
and knowledge about (communicative) language
Postgraduate Diploma in Education degree mateaching?
jored in Japanese for their undergraduate stud2. How do they implement CLT in their classies, while the native Japanese speaker majored in
French. The rest of the teachers started to teach

3. How are their beliefs and knowledge about

Japanese without any formal academic prepara(communicative) language teaching acquired
tion in Japanese LOTE teaching. Their majors
and developed?
variously represented the disciplines of biology,
commerce, economics, English, and music. Some
of the teachers finished short-term inservice proCOLLECTION, AND DATA ANALYSIS
grams on Japanese language and LOTE instruc-

tion after they had already begun teaching.

In order to reveal teachers' beliefs, knowledge,
the 9 native Australian English speakers,
and practices about CLT, we employed triangulation that included qualitative and quantitative7 teachers experienced living in Japan for 1 to 2
years, 1 teacher stayed for 6 years, and 1 teacher
data sources (or multiple data sources) of LOTE
teachers' perspectives. Mathison (1988) argued made four trips to Japan, lasting 2 to 3 weeks per
visit. In other words, most of the teachers who did
that "the use of any single method, just like the
not receive formal academic preparation had exview of any single individual, will necessarily be
subjective and therefore biased" (p. 14). There-periences overseas in the target language culture
fore, she valued triangulation where one con- before they began teaching Japanese. In addition, 8 of the 10 teachers also taught such other
structs meaningful explanations from multiple
data sources-sources that may appear inconsis-subjects as English (3), mathematics (1), social
sciences (1), history and social education (1),
tent or contradictory rather than cohering

music (1), and sports (table tennis, 1). Pseudoaround a single proposition. This use of multiple
for the 10 teachers are used throughout the
sources is especially important in exploring bedata presentation (see Table 1).
liefs, practices, and mandates. Pajares (1992)

reminded researchers of the dimensions in re-

searching beliefs:


It is also clear that, if reasonable inferences about

As researchers, we developed an open-ended

beliefs require assessments of what individuals say, interview protocol. After an initial pilot interview,
intend, and do, then teachers' verbal expressions,

we made several modifications. For example,

predispositions to action, and teaching behaviors

must all be included in assessments of beliefs. Not to background questions were separated from the

major interview questions so that the interview

do so calls into question the validity of the findings

and the value of the study. Traditional belief invento- could focus on specific questions (e.g., underries provide limited information with which to make standings of CLT, use of the textbook, the role of
inferences, and it is at this step in the measurement grammar, communicative activities, and teacher
process that understanding the context-specific na- development). Ultimately, we developed and reture of beliefs becomes critical. (p. 327)
fined 20 questions following Spradley's (1979)

descriptive questions so that the respondent

Ten state (public) school teachers ofJapanese

(including 9 native Australian English speakers
and 1 native Japanese speaker) in 10 different

would display "perspectives and moral forms"

(p. 107). A standardized protocol was established
to focus on certain issues following Spradley's
recommendations. Twelve major questions were
then agreed upon, and two more pilot interviews

state high schools in a large Australian metropoli-

were conducted to test their efficiency. The final


tan area participated in this study (9 female and

interview protocol was completed, with minor

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The Modern Language Journal 83 (1999)


Participants in the Study, Including Their Participation in the Three Data Collection Strategies

Name Years Degrees(s) Study Interview Survey Observation

Teaching Area(s)
Sean 1.5 BA, PGD Japanese and Asian Studies Yes Yes No
Margaret 5 BA Economics Yes Yes Yes
Tracey 5 BA, PGD Japanese and Linguistics Yes Yes No
Joan 6.5 BA History and English Yes Yes Yes
Alicia 13 Diploma of Commerce Yes Yes Yes

Debra 13 BA, PGD Japanese and History Yes No Yes

Jane 4 BA, MA English and Applied Yes Yes Yes














Yumiko .75 BA, PGD French Literature and Yes Yes Yes
Note. Pseudonyms are used throughout the article. PGD=Postgraduate Diploma in Education (apanese), for
Yumiko a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (French).

modifications of wording. All 10 interviews were

transcribed for descriptive data and analyzed.
Each interview (10 total) was conducted in English except for the interview with the nativeJapa-

nese speaking teacher, which was recorded and

transcribed in Japanese and subsequently trans-

lated into English by one of the researchers.

These transcribed interviews provided descriptive data for analysis.

recorded as participant observations. In the

other classrooms our notes were made as ob-

server only. A total of 20 classroom observation

offered evidence about Japanese language i



To add a dimension not tapped in the previously explained data sources, we adapted the
Foreign Language Attitude Survey for Teachers

(FLAST; for a full description see Savignon,


Classroom observations followed the inter-

1983). Specifically, the responses to the survey

uncovered teachers' individual differences and

views. The researcher was usually seated at

the general attitude. Nine of the 10 teachers
back of the classroom and occasionally moved
returned the questionnaires. Their Likert-scaled

around the class. Field notes taken on site docu-

responses were analyzed using descriptive statismented the progression and procedures of each
tics and the computer program StatView (1993).
lesson. Adhering to Silverman's (1993) warningAlthough Savignon warned that FLAST was not

to avoid early generalizations, we focused on what

meant to be scored, she also proposed that
was observable: setting, participants, events, acts,

and gestures (Glesne & Peshkin, 1992). In addi- the answers teachers give will depend on their intertion, immediately following the observations, we pretation of the questions as well as on their second
language learning and teaching experiences. A comreviewed and expanded all notes to include furparison of responses, however, will reveal the differther information and detail (Glesne & Peshkin,
ences in attitude among teachers working together,
1992; Spradley, 1979). The observations of Japa- presumably toward similar goals. (p. 122)
nese class lessons were completed two to three
times in each of eight of the Japanese languageIt was precisely these differences of interpretation
among a group of professional language teachers
classrooms. Two teachers requested not to be observed. Furthermore, 2 other teachers wanted to and the comparison of these differences with inuse the native Japanese researcher as a native terview and observation data that, we believed,
could further reveal and better delineate teachinformant, so in these classrooms it was not posers' attitudes toward CLT. Responses were nusible to observe a typical class session. However,
the interactions in these particular classes weremerically coded and those items receiving a mean

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

of 3.6 or higher were those with which teachers

agreed (the closer to 5, the more strongly teachers agreed with it). Those items receiving a mean

veys, while also offering a glimpse of what actually

happened in Japanese language teachers' classrooms. Their conceptions of CLT serve as a cataof 2.4 or lower were those with which teachers
lyst to promote their understandings. We hope to
disagreed. Items falling between 2.4 and 3.6 wereshow that the challenges they face help clarify, in
those with which teachers neither agreed nor dis-part, why they understand CLT the way they do.
agreed, perhaps giving evidence of some uncer- In the second part, we uncover where these teachtainty among the participants as a group.
ers think they learned about CLT. We acknowledge how teachers situate their own under-

standings about CLT (and L2 teaching, in


In the main, qualitative inductive approaches

were used to analyze the data for this article (for
complete introductory discussion see Glesne &
Peshkin, 1992). In this instance, data were perused and trends, categories, and classifications
were developed using the constant comparative
method, suggested by Glaser and Strauss (1967),

and other similar procedure descriptions or

analysis suggestions from more recent publications (e.g., Foss & Kleinsasser, 1996; Kleinsasser,
1993). Themes that emerged from the various
data sources were identified, compared, and developed into the analysis presented below for the
L2 profession. In addition, the act of writing itself
was also part of the analysis. As Krathwohl (1993)
Writing enforces a discipline that helps articulate
half-formed ideas. Something happens between the
formation of an idea and its appearance on paper, a

general). The three data sources help articulate

how these LOTE teachers view (communicative)
language teaching as an evolving enterprise, a
phenomenon that continually challenges them in
their hourly, daily, monthly, and yearly L2 teach-

ing and learning experiences.

Toward a Definition of (Practical) CLT

The teachers gave few complete descriptions

about what CLT was and held varying, even fragmented, views. Yet, these fragmented views can be
explained by the challenges these teachers faced.
The 10 participants revealed their beliefs about
CLT in broad terms and many concurred that
CLT was neither fully articulated nor necessarily
an integral part of their instructional repertoires.
WhatJapanese Language Teachers Said, Responded,

and Did

latency that somehow results in the clarification and

untangling of our thinking. Writing helps bring un-

conscious processing to light as articulated synthesized statements. (p. 81)

Glesne and Peshkin (1992) reminded that: "The

act of writing also stimulates new thoughts, new
connections. Writing is rewarding in that it creates the product, the housing for the meaning
that you and others have made of your research
adventure. Writing is about constructing a text"
(p. 151). Moreover, the researchers sought to develop this particular presentation so that readers
could enter into the events studied and vicari-

ously participate in creating text (Eisner, 1991).

Instead of talking about qualitative data, here it is
actually presented.4

One teacher eloquently overviewed the notion

that CLT was not yet established, giving valuable
insight into many of the teachers' feelings. A sentiment that CLT was a "work in progress" foreshadowed evolving understandings of CLT by the
participants in this study. When asked, "How do
you define CLT?" she replied:
It's a difficult question. Well, I suppose the definition

of [a] CLT method has not been established yet.

There are some varieties such as task-based ... some

rigid scholars suggest not [even] using English in a

class. So, I am at a loss what CLT is. I think language

teaching should be related to students' experiences

and interests which create natural situations for them

to speak. I suppose it is important, but I don't know

whether it is communicative or not. (Yumiko)

Four main conceptions about CLT were dis-

cussed by the teachers: (a) CLT is learning to

In this section, we bring together data from
communicate in the L2, (b) CLT uses mainly
interviews, surveys, and observations to describe
speaking and listening, (c) CLT involves little
teachers' beliefs, knowledge, and pracgrammar instruction, (d) CLT uses (time-con-

tices-their understandings-of CLT. In the first suming) activities. How teachers talked about and
part, we outline the salient issues they conveyed defined their notions of CLT were developed
in the interviews and responded to on their sur- through these four main conceptions that were

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The Modern LanguageJournal 83 (1999)

revealed through LOTE (Japanese) teachers'

voices, responses, and actions.
CLTIs Learning to Communicate in the L2. Almost

all teachers globally defined CLT as learning to

communicate with other people using the L2. A
few specifically added to that definition the idea
of using language for real purposes. Participants
relayed their sentiments as the following teachers


I would hope that I would, ought to teach students

how to communicate both orally and in a written
form so that I would expect them to hold a conversation at the best of their ability. (Debra)
It's teaching language that can be used by students in
real life, in real life-like situations. It's used for real

purposes. There must be some need to communicate

in order to be able to challenge the students to use
language communicatively. (Joan)

Learning to communicate was an important

attribute of CLT, and, through the survey, these
teachers agreed that the students' motivation to
continue language study was directly related to
their success in actually learning to speak the
language. They also suggested that students did
not have to answer a question posed in Japanese
with a complete sentence and strongly agreed
that one could not teach language without culture, while concurring that cultural information
should be given in the L2 as much as possible.
These teachers were clearly aware that simulated
real-life situations should be used to teach conver-

1989; Koide, 1976; Lange, 1982] and became particularly highlighted when foreign language or

LOTE instruction spread to primary schools

[Clyne, 1977; Heining-Boynton, 1990]). The
teachers relayed their frustrations when discussing these problems with (communicative) language teaching.
As Japanese language teaching and learning

became popular (and required) in primary

schools, these high school teachers faced articulation problems. Alicia described how the teachers did not necessarily welcome previous language learning experiences by their students in
primary schools. Tracey maintained that LOTE
teaching needed to be accepted and supported
within the school and wider community, and Yumiko yearned for collegiality.
I think the most difficult thing is [the] students coming from [the] primary school. Some of them maybe

have 3 years, and some of them maybe have 1 year in

primary school, some of them have nothing. Then,

they're coming to Year 8. And it's very difficult to
have the mixed classes. Then, when you're getting to
Year 9, you have students who are coming to doJapa-

nese in Year 9, who have no Japanese, who have

various experiences [and you start] all over again.
Another issue is at the moment, we're in [a] real
transition period in the community with acceptance

and nonacceptance of LOTE teaching as valuable.

Some people value it, some people don't value it at
all. And some of the people in the community don't
value it, or colleagues [within the school don't value

sational skills, yet were ultimately realistic in

it either]. So that's very difficult until we have a culagreeing that most language classes did not proture of, no, not a culture of, uh, a mindset, where
vide enough opportunity for the development having
a second language is valuable. That's the be-

such conversational skills. It is clear that teachers

ginning and the end. Learning all languages is valuable. That's it. So you learn it all through primary
their scepticism about attaining communicative [school], secondary [school]. It's exactly the same,

saw the value in what CLT offered; nonetheless,

skills surfaced. The participants neither agreedscience, English, math you do it. It's just part of what
nor disagreed that the ability to speak a languageyou do. But we are not there yet. So until we get to
was innate; therefore, they believed that everyonethat point, this transition is very difficult. We have an
opposition from others. (Tracey)
capable of speaking a first language should be
I also feel it's difficult to receive support from the
capable of learning to speak a L2. Although there
school just because I'm not Australian. I think it's
was the potential for communication in their true. We don't usually communicate with other colclassrooms, the teachers were unsure about the
leagues. We talk to each other only within close
extent to which they had the time to promote it
friends. Though it's not related to language teaching
and whether or not all students were capable of
directly, I think it is a problem. (Yumiko)
learning it.
On the survey the LOTE teachers as a group
Three challenges created further tensions for
neither agreed nor disagreed that they needed to
teachers in promoting communication in the L2.
be fluent themselves to begin to teach communiThese included subject matter articulation, lack
catively. Nonetheless, during the interviews, the
of institutional support, and their own lack of
teachers commented on their own (inadequate)
proficiency in the L2. (These three issues have
language proficiency; however, many reported
plagued the language professions in both Austrathat they tried to use the L2 as much as possible.
lia and the U.S. [e.g., Ariew, 1982; Australian LanTamara felt insecure about her language profiguage and Literacy Council, 1996; Kawagoe,

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

ciency. Joan responded that, as she became more

confident with her L2 proficiency and ability to
meet students' needs, she moved further away

ing. In short, her L2 learning experiences

seemed to have formed a belief that CLT used

only speaking and listening.

The survey results reinforced the significance
honest. Joan decided to go back to universityof
tospeaking and listening skills, or at least sugfinish her 3rd year of Japanese study.
gested that there might be an order to how skills
were learned. The teachers agreed that the inAlso, my ability to speak Japanese. Sometimes I feel
struction of such skills preceded the teaching of
like my language is not sufficient to challenge the
reading and writing, that L2 acquisition was most
students, to push them. I don't think I give them
successful when based on an oral approach, and
enough listening experience, because I am insecure
that students could still be successful in learning
of my ownJapanese. (Tamara)
to communicate in a L2 even if they did not read
In terms of the daily use of textbook, I am surprised

from the textbook. Tamara was not afraid to be

well. The teachers did not attribute weak oral

to find that I am moving further and further away
from [the] use of the regular textbook. Every year
competence to a lack of objective means in teachlevel has one, but I find as I become more confident
ing it. Nonetheless, assessment of students' lan-

with my language, and as I become more confidentguage

abilities caused some concern.
The LOTE teachers found that assessment

meet the needs or interest of the students and differ-

ent topics, I want real Japanese language, not thetasks that were focused on the four skills offered

textbook. (oan)

another slight obstacle. It is interesting to note

The teachers reported that CLT meant learning to communicate in the L2. The interview and
survey data showed how they coped with what this

meant to them. The challenges, however, seemed

sometimes to outweigh the benefits of making
communication in the L2 a reality. Nonetheless,
the first conception served as a general reminder
about the global purpose of CLT. This focus on

communication led to the second conception

that these teachers think writing and reading are

not as prevalent (important) as listening and

CLT Uses Mainly Speaking and Listening. A sec-

ond trend from the data revealed that several

that the LOTE teachers emphasized that CLT

meant speaking and listening; however, the government guidelines for communicative assess-

ment included all four skills, each seemingly

given equal weighting. The teachers' concerns

dealt with the number of tests and the lack of

cohesion among the skill examinations.

And we have four tests at the end of each semester,

reading, writing, listening, and speaking. And the

middle of each semester, we have two tests. In the
middle of [the] first semester, if we test reading and
writing, then, in the middle of [the] second semester,

we test speaking and listening. So by the end of the

year we've tested four skills, three times. (Margaret)

Well, according to the senior curriculum, I am re-

quired to give them a certain number of tests in what

teachers viewed CLT as focusing extensively on

speaking and listening skills. The followingthey call the four macro skills-reading, writing,
quotes represented this general view.

speaking, and listening. They all have to be separate

tests. So I have to give them one of each kind of tests

each term. I basicallyjust give them tests, you know. I

The goal of the teaching is that at the end of learning
the language, people can actually talk in the languagewill have a passage written in Japanese on a topic that
we've studied. And they have to read it and they have
with the native speakers understand [ing] what
they're saying and be [ing] able to communicate theirquestions in English and they have to answer in En-

ideas rather than just being able to read and write.

glish. So it's just as a comprehensive test. Listening,
well, I'll have [a] passage in Japanese. I'll read it and
My understanding of CLT is that you teach so that
then they'll have questions in English. So they don't
see it. Theyjust think they read it. Then, they have to
[the] students hear it and so that they speak it. I
answer in English. And speaking, I just give them
would try where it's possible to teach something new
by actually speaking. [...] I think writing needs a little

explanation to teach the pattern and get them to

write the pattern. [. . .] And perhaps because I

learned Japanese as an adult and learned it communicatively, I didn't learn a lot of writing at the time.
Writing was the neglected skill. So I suppose I've been
very aware of CLT. (Alicia)

At the completion of her interview, Alicia revealed again that she learnedJapanese communicatively in speaking and listening, but not in writ-

some topics to talk about and they have to talk. (Role

play or interview?) Oh, both. So, that's how I evaluate, just standard, four micro skills tests. I'm not particularly looking for communicative skills as such, but

just as four micro skills, which is the prescribed way

of testing. (Sean)

The tension between CLT and skills became

apparent. The teachers saw two completely differ-

ent issues and proceeded with what they per-

ceived they had to do in their classrooms for their

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The Modern Language Journal 83 (1999)

nation. So that's why I like [a] combination of both

students. It is interesting to note that many of
systems. (Jane)
them did not see, or present, how the competing
conceptions could be reconciled. They allowed
Debra was in a dilemma, because she was not
their understanding of skills (through policy) to
allowed to offer a grammar test according to the
outweigh their promotion of CLT (especially in government's guidelines of communicative asusing speaking and listening). Items from the
survey further revealed that the group thought
I think that [the] writing test is the main worry.
that dialogue memorization was an effective techthe big worry, because it takes us a lot of time. A
nique in the process of learning a L2 but disally this is the big problem with CLT, because our te
agreed over the belief that mastering L2 gram-

mar was a prerequisite to developing oral

communication skills. This disagreement could
be why some teachers saw these other skills (reading and writing) as a means to focus on grammar.

These issues and challenges only seemed to rein-

force the third conception about the role of

grammar in CLT.
CLT Involves Little Grammar Instruction. Quite a

few teachers understood CLT as not involving

grammar, or any type of language structure. Although some teachers did not directly mention
grammar usage, many alluded to the problem of
how, if at all, to include it.

have to be communicative, too. So we can't have a

grammar test. We can't have a test where you have to

do multiple choice. No, we can't. We can't do it at all.
So what we have to do is trying authentic material for

students to read. (Debra)

The participants were challenged over what to

do with grammar in their learning environments.

Most teachers did not discuss the role of grammar in CLT because they thought grammar was
not part of CLT. Neither did they understand
completely the guidelines for not allowing grammar to be included in their testing. Yet they relayed difficulties in teaching it when it came to
discussing what went on with language teaching
in their classrooms. Although some did not know
the role of grammar in CLT as revealed in the
definitions above, others blamed English teach-

Another issue in LOTE learning and teaching is that

"Is communicative teaching good?" Because people
have taken it so far to the point of the banning of ers for not teaching grammar or felt it difficult to
grammar teaching or of the banning of drilling, of present grammar in an interesting way, or both.
the banning of all little parts. You have to do at some
Uh, these are difficult questions. What's the role of
points, to learn Hiragana [apanese syllabary], you
grammar? Uh, I think grammar is important so that
have to write out over and over after practice. But in
meaning is not lost, but I try not to correct the stucommunicative language, you think, "I can't do it. It's
dents' grammar too much, when they speak, because
not communicative." So that's the burden. ... So
don't want to inhibit them. I don't think it is [a] very
when I [was] first teaching grammar, it had very Ilittle,

important thing. I treat it as a building block, and

very little place. We did lots of talking, lots of reading
then, hopefully that will make students practice whatand writing and listening, but not so much grammar.
ever in
language they've learned before. And if there
Which is the mistake of, I think, part of the flow
arestumany minor mistakes on grammar, I don't fix
communicative teaching. I almost expected that
them it
up on it. Yeah, I can't answer that question very
dents would pick it up. They would somehow work
out without me saying "'wo' is the object....
It (Tamara)

a number of years now, they haven't really been

would work if you guess. Sometimes I still doFor
teaching even in English very much. I found a lot of
my students at high school don't really know much
It's using Japanese whenever possible in the classabout the technical aspects of English language. So it
room. But I'm not particularly a communicative lanwas discouraged for some years. The teaching of Enguage teacher, because I love teaching grammar....
glish grammar was discouraged. So a lot of the stuWhile I like some aspects of it, I very much dislike
dents have gone through the high school system not
some ... aspects of it... while I was studying inJapan,
really learning English grammar. So then, you know,
I had a teacher who was studying [the] communicative method. And she believed that she did not ex-

I think it's unfortunate. So it's hard to teach them

Japanese grammar if they don't understand English

plain grammatical points in the text. She believed you
grammar. (Sean)
should get to understand them from the atmosphere.
And that was very frustrating as a student. So that's
The conundrum of grammar's place within
why I don't like it so much, because I love to underCLT (or language teaching in general, for that
stand the grammar. And I think many of the best
matter) was further highlighted in the survey restudents do. And students we have doing Japanese
As a group, these teachers were uncertain
are often very analytical thinkers. AndJapanese to sults.

is a little bit like math. And students thought of it like

the importance of having students learn

rules of grammar (they neither agreed nor dismath. So sometimes it's possible to have a little expla-

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

agreed) but were adamant that the grammartranslation approach to L2 learning was not effec-

tive in developing oral communication skills. On

the one hand, these LOTE teachers accepted that
student responses in the L2 did not have to be
linguistically accurate. They further agreed that
when a student made syntactical errors, the errors should be accepted as a natural and inevitable part of language acquisition and that ideas
can be exchanged spontaneously in a foreign language without having linguistic accuracy. On the
other hand, the LOTE teachers agreed that if first
language (L1) teachers taught grammar the way
they should, it would be easier for them to teach
a L2. The participants further agreed that when
the foreign language structure differed from that

Then, we give them ... extra things they can add to

it. Then, they must learn and present it in a class. Do
role-play or so. And in Year 9 [it is] similar, but there's

more freedom. By the time you get to Year 12, just

talk. (Laura)

WhatJapanese Language Teachers Did: Traditional

Practices. Regardless of the role grammar had according to the individual teachers or what teach-

ers said about accommodating learning styles,

many findings from classroom observations confounded the information given by the teachers in
their interviews and on their surveys. Grammar
was more central in their language teaching than
these LOTE teachers admitted. The teachers

were more didactic in their instruction than th

of the LI, sometimes extensive repetitions, sim-

related and less concerned with individuals than

ple and varied, were needed to form the new

with the class as a group entity. Whether or not

they were teaching communicatively, grammar

habit. They agreed that pattern practice was an

effective learning technique and that the establishment of new language habits required extensive, well-planned practice on a limited body of
vocabulary and sentence patterns.
It is interesting to note that puzzlement over
issues surrounding grammar also manifested itself within another challenge teachers had with
learning styles. Most teachers acknowledged that
they had to be aware of students' learning styles,
especially different styles between year levels.
They tended to agree with the survey item that all

students, regardless of previous academic success

and preparation, should be encouraged and

given the opportunity to study a foreign language. Nonetheless, learning styles offered an additional focus that some felt was not at all part of
CLT. Moreover, here teachers related that some

students wanted a grammar focus.

was a central focus in the observed classrooms.

For example, although most teachers said that

they used role-play, games, simulations, and so
on, classes observed for this study were heavily
teacher-fronted, grammar was presented without
any context clues, and there were few interactions

seen among students in the classrooms (this describes what we mean by "traditional practices").
Most Japanese teachers used English extensively
to explain grammatical points and give instructions; L2 communicative use and speaking in the
L2 by students, in particular, were not as prevalent as one might assume from listening to the
interviews or reading the survey results. TheJapanese teachers readily allowed students to answer
in English. A few teachers tried to integrate culture into their lessons. In short, most teachers
displayed traditional practice tendencies. The following selected examples typically portrayed what

All Grade 11 and 12 want to study in a formal way. So

was seen in the Japanese language classrooms.

even though I introduce a communicative activity,

For instance, Tamara started her lesson for

they don't want to get involved in it. They are more

interested in grammatical explanations. But, for Year
ex- 12 with a Kanji (Chinese characters) quiz.
ample, Grade 10 get along well with me. They really
like interesting topics and start to speak. So I feelAt the beginning, she handed out quiz sheets to evemore comfortable with juniors. Seniors seem to haveryone. She gave students 10 minutes to complete the
acquired a formal way of studying like Japanese stu-quiz. While students were working on the quiz, she
dents .. .This is where the difficulty lies, I feel. (Yu-wrote grammatical points on the board. After the
quiz, she started to explain the grammar (passive
Uh, Year 8, they learn patterns. We teach them, you
form) by using English sentences as examples. Then,
know, 'This is the pattern." If you want to say, I like
she explained it with Japanese sentences. While she
French and I like math, and I hate science. Then, we
explained verb conjugations, students wrote them
down in their notebooks. After that, she showed verb
teach them to say, ". . . ga suki," ". . . ga kirai desu."
Then, we give them a list of subjects. And we get them
cards and made students say passive forms. It was like
to talk. So they can express their own feeling inJapadrills. Then, she asked students to open the textnese. We did the same things with sports and hobbies
books, and they did exercises that transformed active
and families.... And then, if we are doing something
sentences into passive ones. She called on each stulike [the topic of] restaurant, then, we give them a
dent individually and let him or her answer. Finally,
dialogue. We get them to learn the basic dialogue.
she asked students to create their own sentences by

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The Modern Language Journal 83 (1999)

using passive forms. After a few minutes, the bell

rang. (Observation of Tamara)
This was her lesson. There was little interaction

between the teacher and the students, and little

Students came in the classroom in a line. First, she

reviewed the grammar structure (potential form) on

the blackboard. She asked a yes-no question to indi-

vidual students. Then, she reviewed Kanji using

cards. Students read several cards, each time the

among the students. Moreover, this lesson pro- teacher

showed the card to them several times. After

vided little evidence of attention to varying learn- that, she told the students to open the textbook. They

ing styles. Grammar points were explained de- did translation exercises. She asked individual stuductively without any context clues and were dents to answer them. Then, she asked two students
to read the short model conversation. She asked anfollowed by mechanical exercises in textbooks.
Yumiko is a native Japanese teacher. She just other pair to read it. She gave the students five minutes to practice the skit in pairs. After that, she asked
started teaching in the academic year after she
for volunteers. Students were shy. So she asked two
finished her Postgraduate Diploma of Education.
pairs to perform the skit without looking at the textThe following is her Year 12 lesson. She said in book. The rest of the class helped the performers

her interview that communicative activities did

when they got stuck. The bell rang, and she told the

not work for Years 11 and 12, because these stustudents that they would practice the skit more next
dents liked a more formal way of study, especially
time. (Observation of Margaret)

grammatical explanations.
Margaret related in her interview that she had
She spent most of her lesson speaking Japanese.
difficulty motivating Year 8 and 9 students and

First, she gave an example to introduce a new senmanaging their discipline. Although she stated
tence pattern in context. She kept on giving other
that "in Year 10 and 11 and 12 by the students
examples in Japanese. Each student was checking
the new function with the handout the teacher had

who have chosen to do the subject, my teaching

method is totally different. I do lots of questiongiven them previously. Then, after several examples,
naires, lots of games, and lot of more discussion,
she asked yes-no questions to students. But students

role-play ... ," she actually relied here on tradianswered in English. Sometimes students asked

questions in English about the content of the tional

topic practices. As our interview, survey, and obor examples. There were no interactions among
data coalesced, it became clear that tendents. Then, she started to give another example
to abounded over grammar instruction,

introduce another grammatical point. They

styles, and CLT. The challenges of meetpeated the same process. Finally, she introduced
ing students' needs continued to give focus to the

three new Kanji words. She wrote them on the black-

teachers' daily instruction, while their idea of

board and she made sure of the meaning of each

word by asking individual students. Students
an-as minimal grammar instruction was mudswered in English. There were no exercises dled
within the quagmire of what they did or thought
Kanji in sentences. The lesson stopped here.they
(Ob- had to do.
servation of Yumiko)

CLT Uses (Time-Consuming) Activities. The final

evidenced in the interview data was

This native-speaking Japanese teacher conception

that in
CLT used activities that must be fun, and
pride in her approach to introducing grammar
contexts. In her interview, she stated, "I often
use all teachers admitted that preparing such
many examples in Japanese to explain ajovial
newactivities was time intensive. Although the
word. I keep on saying it until students can survey
guess showed that teachers disagreed with the
statement that a good foreign language teacher
what it is. I like it that way." Nevertheless, students
did not need audiovisuals to build an effective
answered in English during this lesson. No interprogram,
they agreed that if language teachers
action among students could be seen, and
needs to be remembered that this teacher menused all the audiovisual equipment, materials,
tioned that she relied little on communicative
and techniques the experts say they should, there
would be no time for eating and sleeping, much
activities because "they don't want to get involved
teaching. TheseJapanese teachers also nearly
in it." At this stage, she seemed to give up
trying to get them involved. She believed
that (mean 3.4) that individualizing instructionuswas really not feasible in L2 classes (which
certain students' learning styles outweighed
in a surprising way, ties in with their issues regarding communicative activities.
their reports of learning styles). Tracey comMargaret did a lesson for Year 10. Although
attempted to use role-play, it was in realitymented
a dia- that teachers felt they were failing if th
class did not include fun elements, and Sean dislogue memorization. Overall, she relied heavily
cussed how he coped with the issue.
on traditional practices.

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

It's from CLT or I'm not sure where it comes from.

exercise. But I don't teach from the textbook, usually

I teach something new, before they look at the textBut there is an understanding that as LOTE teachers
we must have our classes, [they] must be fun, theybook. So we need more time to prepare our own
must be entertaining, and so [we] play lots of games materials. It's quite hard. It's not like Japan where
they use, everybody uses the same, and same day,
and kill ourselves trying to entertain our students. If
they are not, if it is not entertaining, we feel like we're
same page.... I think I need time to prepare the

failing. And students also [say], 'That's boring, Miss."resources for the students. I think that's really imporAnd you think, of course, everything has some bor- tant. To make flash cards, to make the lesson interesting, bad, some not interesting parts, right? So that'sing, we need to have really more time. (Debra)
The time to reflect as a teacher. [... ] And I teach 27
another part. (Tracey)

My understanding of communicative teaching is, out

of 35 lessons a week. [... ] I might have three or
suppose, teaching in a way rather than just learn [ing]
four lessons a week at most of my own preparation
grammar or translat[ing] from one language to an-and correction time. What I would really love is the
other. It involves using learning activities where theluxury of something like a position, a head of Departstudents are actually engaged in communicating withment, where you have [a] half time table, half teach-

other people, of course, usually within [a] class ing, half managing, where you would have time to
group.... In that way, I suppose, they are supposedlook at resource materials available and slowly and
to learn how to use the language more easily than justcarefully put together a course. (Joan)

to try [the] grammatical translation [way] to learning.... But I have not really used them very much.Another major challenge to CLT and its activiWell, it's time-consuming. Of course, it's so much
ties was discipline. Margaret revealed in her intereasier to use [a] textbook. I mean it would be nicer view
that discipline was the priority and that there

it was a textbook with a lot of communicative learning

was little room for her to use communicative acactivities in it. To be always making every week, for
tivities in Grade 8 classes. Jane also used a similar
every lesson, to make activities in it, it's very time-con-

technique to "settle students down."

suming and [I] just wonder, I don't have that much

time to spend on it. Because I have other subjects andBut unfortunately a lot of our students, lots of stuanother class to teach, too. (Sean)
dents I am teaching at high school at Year 8, they are
forced to studyJapanese. So they have very negative
Quite a few participants said they occasionally
attitudes. So if I speak to them in Japanese in the
used CLT activities in classrooms. Alicia described
classroom, they switch off from what they want to
her use of a fun activity.
know. So all of the time I have to speak in English
anyway. And they are quite badly behaved students
So you can use group activities or pair activities, interanyway. So the way that I teach Japanese is not really
views, they can be interviewing. For instance, another
communicative. It's more like I've got to keep these
thing the Year 10 just learned is to say when is your

kids quiet, more behaved for 35 minutes. And the

birthday. So they have to go around and ask 10 people that question.... So that's communication. They main idea is not that I'm teaching at all. The main
idea is discipline. (Margaret)
can go around and ask. This school is very interesting. Hardly anybody was born in [suburb]. So I use Nearly everyday I give them a little quiz to start with
the lesson, quite often. And it might be grammar or
activities like that as often as I can. And then also for
listening, for instance, today, with one of my Year 10 vocabulary or Kanji or something. Almost everyday,
classes, I was pretending to be their phone answering
machine. I'm the answering machine. So they had to

particularly with Grade 8, it settles them down. If they

write something, they can concentrate on it. (Jane)

take notes. So I pretended to be the person. So I

Although LOTE teachers agreed that language

learning should be fun, they disagreed that L2
Almost all teachers reported they needed moreacquisition was not and probably never would be
time to prepare materials for CLT activities,relevant to the average Australian student. But
made suggestions. (Alicia)

which related directly to the fact that these teach-they neither agreed nor disagreed as a group that
ers perceived there existed a lack of good materi- one of their problems in teaching a L2 was that
als including textbooks for communicative lan-they tried to make learning fun and games. Some

guage instruction.

teachers agreed, others disagreed, and there was

no consensus.

We don't use the textbook everyday. My Grade 8, they

Yet, student motivation and LOTE teachers'

have no textbook. Next year we'll have one, but this
about it appeared throughout the interyear we don't, because the textbook was not commu-

nicative. It was too boring. For Grade 9 we have Is-views. As seen in previous quotations and discusshoni just for the first time this year. So I use this sions, these teachers struggled to motivate their

perhaps half of the time. So after four lessons maybe students. This particular issue gained momentum
I'll use it for part of the lessons. And then, we'll use when the teachers admitted to their difficulties
this to practice. And they can use this for a homeworkwith subject matter articulation, grammar in-

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The Modern LanguageJournal 83 (1999)

struction, acknowledgment of individual learning styles, and questionable assessment items. Student motivation also affected the decision on

music, then, they can read a music magazine or watch

the video clip, or [sing] some Japanese songs or

something like that. And that makes them more interested. (Debra)

whether or not to try out CLT.Jane expressed her

difficulty in motivating students who, especially
CLT activities
appeared, at first glance, to influGrade 8, had to take the subject. Note further
ence student motivation, but this was not necesthat she again highlighted and integrallysarily
the case. Instead, their focus on form and
the issue of learning styles.
student discipline made these teachers shy away
from CLT activities, or relegate them to the more

The most critical issue at the junior level is that beadvanced

cause they are not streamed academically, we have [a]

language learners. Moreover, it ap-

very wide range of ability from very good to very
poorthat the lack of availability of CLT activities And
(or time to create them) caused these teach[students in the] language class we have today.
to ignore them. Time was not what
so we must teach "Hiragana." But some students can't
these teachers
had, so CLT activities were not a
master that. So they are already dropping behind.
by the end of the year, there's a very wide gap.
And This low priority was apparent in the
those students who are very poor become very
resent-of CLT activities (of any kind) seen durscarcity

ful. And it's very hard to maintain the interest ing


everyone, when there's such a wide gap. So that's one

of the most critical issues. And I don't know what the

What Japanese Language Teachers Did: Innovative

answer is, we should stream or what we should do. ButPractices. It was obvious that the teachers believed

that also subtracts from CLT, because, of course, they that CLT activities created too much work for

can't understand. They're slower learners. So they them, because few participants were observed to

can't write, they can't stand what is happening as welluse such activities in the classroom. In contrast to

as the better students. So that's one of the most criti-

their use of the traditional practices mentioned

previously, only a few teachers used student-stuTamara revisited the value of learning anotherdent interactions or made students use the language for real purposes. Of these, two teachers
also attempted to use Japanese to a greater extent
cal issues. (Jane)

And also I think it important that students see a value

in learning another language, because if they don't

see it as just another subject that they have to do, I
don't think we're going to have a right attitude to
learning about cultures. And if they are not interested in culture, then, it's also going to make it diffi-

cult for them to pick up the language. (Tamara)

Debra lamented the fact that students lacked

than the other teachers did. As mentioned above,

Alicia reported using some innovative ideas. Her

lesson for Year 9 gave further insight into her
First, she reviewed some Kanji numbers. She held
cards and asked each student to read one. The stu-

dent picked up the card. She told the student inJapanese to show the card to everyone. Others repeated

motivation because they did not particularly carethe number. She tried several cards. All these words
for discrete-point learning:
were related to the topic "restaurant." Then, she
I think sometimes, [students] lack the motivation to showed a Japanese tea cup, a sake cup, and other
really study a language, the skills of the language. For things asking questions in Japanese. Students an-

example, I can teach them some new words or new swered in Japanese. She checked homework. Those
Kanji, but students find it very hard to learn. The who did not do the homework stood up, and they

students must realize that they need to study. And, ofwere told to come back to the classroom during
course, if they had a trip toJapan, that would be good lunchtime to show the homework. Then, they did
translation exercises from the textbook. After giving
motivation for them. (Debra)
instruction for the next homework assignment, she

Debra did encourage students in Years 11 and gave students 10 minutes to prepare for a role-play (at
12 to involve themselves in theJapanese language the Japanese restaurant) in groups of 3 to 4. One stuby watching TV programs and reading. These dent was a waiter/waitress, and the others were customers. She walked around the class and sometimes
activities would, she felt, encourage the students

to be motivated to learn in her advanced classes.

And I'm trying to build up the materials that we have

at school so that students can be interested in the

answered students' questions. Then, four groups performed in front of the class. Three groups mainly fol-

lowed the model dialogue, but the last group was in-

teresting because the students did not follow the

subject. So, for example, if we have students in class, model dialogue. They made the class laugh. She made

who are interested in sports, they can read some some comments on their performance-"Well done"
sporting magazine, so [we] watch the baseball or and a little tip about how to order at aJapanese restauSumo on TV. Or if the students are interested in

rant. (Observation of Alicia)

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

Although she used role-play, she used it to prac-

tice grammatical patterns, and there were few

opportunities for genuine communication

among the students except in the last group's
unexpected role-play. The overall focus for the
class was to complete tasks from the book, not to
negotiate meaning within the tasks.
Laura attempted to involve her students in free
conversation during a Year 11 lesson.
First, she checked the homework and reviewed the

key expressions which were related to the topic "illness." One key expression was reviewed briefly on the
blackboard. Then, she introduced Kanji for some key
words such as medicine, hospital, and illness by using
mnemonics. Next, using handouts and pictures, she
added some other expressions patients would often
use. She asked students, "How would you say, when
... ?" Students answered in Japanese, picking up appropriate new expressions. After that, she gave the
students 10 minutes to prepare for a role-play between a doctor and a patient. There were no model
skits. She went around the class to help some stu-

"Think, think about it." She encouraged students to

guess the meaning. After that, they practiced asking
directions in pairs. They went outside to the basketball court to play games in pairs in Japanese. One of
each pair was blindfolded and the other partner gave

directions to the goal in Japanese. This game was a

competition. The students were enthusiastic about it.
(Observation of Laura)

This teacher used a range of activities according to grade levels. For Year 8, she used more
physically related games such as the total physical

response (TPR) through which students interpreted Japanese. For Year 11, she allowed more

free conversation. She also used Japanese for

most of the lessons. Laura was originally a music

teacher. This teacher's experiences in Japan-learning history in Japan and teaching

English-influenced her teaching. Her interview
data also documented that she used different approaches with different grades. As she readily ac-

knowledged, she had difficulties implementing

communicative activities, especially when trying
dents. But most students seemed comfortable and
to incorporate grammar into her lesson. Noneworked on their original skits. Then it was time to
theless, her classroom teaching demonstrated
perform. They did not hesitate at all. They all seemed
that, as she related in her interview, it was her
to be used to role-play. Each of the five pairs per-

L2 learning and teaching experiences
formed in front of the class. (They really seemed
tended to form her conceptions of (commuenjoy it.) Finally, she gave some feedback about
useful words and expressions to supplement the lesson.
nicative) language teaching. (Such a perspective
(Observation of Laura)
will be discussed more thoroughly in the section
below on how teachers learned about CLT.)
This observation data provided evidence that
Through interviews, observations, and surveys,
Year 11 students did get involved in a form of
the participants in this study revealed that they
communicative activity. In fact, they enjoyed it. It
found CLT activities too time-consuming, and
is interesting to note that this teacher used a

they reported numerous challenges to their

different practice for Year 8. In this instance she

teaching that, in essence, allowed them to avoid

paid more attention to discipline.
developing CLT techniques while also avoiding
the consequences of their challenges and what
All the students were outside the classroom. They
this in
meant for their instruction.
entered in a line, one by one. Some said hello
Japanese to me. Everyone was seated, but the class
was still noisy. She said in a loud voice, 'Those who

Summary. The three data sources revealed four

don't behave yourselves have no lunch time. It's your

of these LOTE teachers' ideas about
choice. So think about it." Then, she called the roll

as well as challenges that provided tensions
Japanese. Students had to say '"Yes" in Japanese.
would not accept English, so some students had
toaffected those conceptions. The observation
data showed reluctance on the part of teachers to
repeat in Japanese. Then, she said, "If you behave
yourself, I will take you to the basketball court
CLT and indicated that many teachers
we'll have a game. Today's topic is 'asking direcavoided (or at least challenged or mutated) the

tions."' First, she reviewed some key words. Shefew

conceptions of CLT that they held. The inter-

a quiz like "Bingo." Instead of saying "Bingo,"

theand survey
students said "Yatta" (I made it!). The students were
teachers did and
familiar with the procedure and concentrated on it.

data explained perhaps why

thought what they did. Al-

though most teachers reported using communi-

All the words were related to the topic. They repeated

cative activities such as role-play, games, survey,
this game three times. By that time they seemed to be

comfortable with these words. Then, she gave
the work, and simulations, unfortunately,

students a handout. It was a map with a school, these

bank,things were rarely observed. There were few
observed student-student interactions in most of
McDonald's, and so on. She started to use a new
expression using the map. She gave a couple of examthe classrooms. Only two teachers actually used
ples. Some students asked, "Miss, what is it?" She said,
role-play of any type, while most relied on tradi-

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The Modern Language Journal 83 (1999)

tional practices: teacher-fronted, repetition,

translation, explicit grammar presentation, practice from the textbook, and little or no L2 use or

is less than it should be, because I don't want them to

feel put down. So that impacts as well. (Tracey)

culture integration. Their conceptions of CLT

Personal L2 Teaching: The Significance
appeared to have little chance for extensive devel- of Trial and Error
opment. Furthermore, their L2 instructional beThe teachers also learned about CLT by teaching;
liefs, knowledge, and practices were rarely guided
that is, experience in actually teaching Japanese
by their conceptions of CLT.
We examine next how these LOTE teachers
taught them about what they perceived as communicative
thought they learned about CLT and reveal
howpossibilities. They described how they
this knowledge through trial and error.
they personally made sense of Japanese teaching
and learning. The following section unravels
I learned about CLT when I became a teacher, behow teachers thought they developed their
I don't have any language training. So, apart

about CLT.



As the teachers discussed their various ideas

from experiences teaching English in Japan, I didn't

have much language teaching methodology at all. So
I think I've done a lot of learning in the last couple
of years about how to write an assessment item. So
that's real experience from the students rather than
something really theoretical. Yes, so trial and error.

about CLT, they were also asked how they learned

But also I think you learn by trial and error, trying

about CLT, how they came to hold these concepsomething. And if it doesn't work, you change it so
tions of CLT, and what their sources of learning
that it will be suitable in the situation. (Alicia)
were. Responses from the interviews showed that
I think, initially when I started teaching, I did try to
the teachers learned about CLT from a variety
of extent to use [the] communicative language
things that included personal L2 learning, permethod, but I'm afraid of, [the lack of a] period of
time, especially this year, when I have virtually no
sonal L2 teaching (trial and error), teacher develstudents with [a] higher motivation level to study
opment programs, inservices, and other teachers.
Japanese. Maybe one or two at most. I'm afraid, I
Although the teachers learned about CLT

haven't put much energy into it in developing [a]

through multiple avenues, personal L2 learning
communicative style in normal activities .... But I
and teaching experiences seemed to have had the
must admit, I suppose, when I did try to use that type
greatest influence.
of activity, students are more enthusiastic about study-

ing. I think that's true. They attempted, particularly

Personal L2 Learning
How teachers learned L2s as students seemed

younger students, liked to play games rather than

engaging in formal lessons, you know. But again, you
know, most of them are not really interested in learn-

to influence heavily their beliefs about languageingJapanese anyway. So for them, they would rather
teaching and, hence, their personal views about play anything, sorts of games than do any sorts of
CLT. In particular, those who learned L2 in real formal study, whether it will be Japanese or any other
situations had strong beliefs about how students subjects, you know. They are not, on the whole, acalearn a L2.

demically oriented students in my class, very few, par-

ticularlyJapanese classes. (Sean)

In high school I learned French and I learned French

It became evident from the teachers' comnot in a communicative way at all. I learned French
that they perceived both the negative and
rather like Japanese students in Japan learning Enpositive
sides of trial and error learning and
glish. So that was not very much help. When I learned
teaching with CLT ideas and concepts. This amJapanese in university, I did so much, so much transbivalence was further reinforced with interview
lation and that was not really communicative. I think,

when I went out becoming a student teacher and

I observation data; the teachers spoke about
watched other teachers teach Japanese, and then,
the numerous challenges they faced and how
after that it's just talking to other teachers and they
just found it more prudent to implement tradilearning, keep learning. How I teach is very personal
tional practices over innovative ones.
and I teach every class in a different way. (Debra)
My own LOTE learning history affects, of course, how
Development, Inservice Programs,
I learn. I think. That's effective for me. And I say Teacher
and Other Teachers
preferences. Oh, yeah, another thing is my beliefs
about kids and how they learn. I feel that kids feel

The teachers spoke about learning from these

embarrassed, they don't want to keep trying, so I try
three sources. Nonetheless, the majority of the
not to embarrass them. Perhaps my error-correction

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

LOTE teachers, most of the time, would always

digress to how they relied upon themselves and
their experiences as described above. They acknowledged these sources, yet in the wider interviews, it appeared that their own beliefs filtered
what these sources offered, and the context of
their own teaching seemed to determine what

watching good and bad teachers and learning

about their experiences was quite influential.
I was teaching Japanese without having any training
at all in teaching a foreign language. And the other
teachers on the staff helped me. And I started to go
to inservice trainings, seminars, and I enrolled in a
course for 1 year at the University of [name]. It was
supposed to be the course about how to teach Japanese, but it was also to upgradeJapanese language. A
lot of it wasn't actually how to teach Japanese, but it

they would use from the sources. What they

picked up is offered next.

The four LOTE (Japanese) teachers who re-

was still a good course. (Is the teacher Ms. [name]?)

Yes, she is a good teacher. Ms. [name] showed the
model of communicative method in her teaching
style. I was able to see what [a] communicative language teacher was supposed to be like. So I could see
how I should be teaching. (Margaret)

ceived Postgraduate Diplomas of Education were

initially exposed to CLT in teacher development
programs, and the others spoke of inservice involvement. (Note that because about half of the
participants had little to no LOTE teacher education involvement, inservices were one way of increasing their knowledge).

I think over the years, you see good teachers and you
see bad teachers. And you develop your own methods
according to what you see. So I learn more by example than I learn by reading a book. And of course, we

Communicative language teaching was the style of

teaching that they favored at the University of

must always adapt to the environment that we're

[name], when I studied [the] Diploma of Education.

So everything was supposed to be aimed at developing communicative language teaching skills. (Sean)

teaching in. You know, that students in every school

differ and you must adapt your methodology to suit
the students where you are. (Jane)

I learned about CLT at a Postgraduate Diploma of

Education course at the University of [name] last

year. It was like a cram school. So I actually learned

when I did my teaching practice at a high school.

The way that these teachers made sense of

Teachers who attended a teacher development their L2 teaching and learning was based on

course gained some ideas about CLT but did not their personal experiences; little that we found
showed development of their approach within
CLT meant. The teachers who attended inserany type of program or inservice. Although the
vices related that they had difficulties finding
the said they learned about CLT from others by attending teacher development programs
time necessary to implement the classroom activiand inservices and by watching other teachers,
ties that they learned there.
personal L2 learning and teaching experiences
So I think most inservices are giving us techniques
filtered through as the primary variables that
which are really encouraging students to use the lannurtured their beliefs, knowledge, and practices
guage they know and encourage them to learn from
in L2
each other. Yeah, they are not teacher-oriented.
It'steaching and learning. It is interesting to
that these personal experiences seemed to
more group work-oriented and interaction. But note
to more global beliefs about what they pertime I go to inservices, I think, "Oh, I should uselead
I should use that." And then, sometimes when ceived
I get as L2 teaching and learning, and those
back to school, I just don't have the time to plan
all did not necessarily include CLT. In the

seem to have very thorough explanations of what

those things. (Tamara)

final analysis, the teachers were reluctant to give

much credibility to what other teachers or lecturers said. In this study, our attention was fonot go to a workshop while school was in session.
One teacher lamented the fact that she could

cused on how these teachers developed their

These days we can't go in school time. It's terrible.

own personal understandings within their teachAnd it was so busy after school. So I haven't been to
ing and learning situations and through their
any workshops at all. There was one that I was invited

individual beliefs. There was a tendency for

to after school, but it was only discussing exam pasome teachers to rely on what they thought they
pers. It wasn't a workshop. From the [region], they

saw some teachers in various classrooms do, and

they rarely indicated that they discussed ideas,
teachers, but not for experienced teachers. (Jane)
notions, and perceptions concerning CLT with
Regardless of their preservice backgrounds,their colleagues or university classmates. The
haven't given any. There are some for beginning

the teachers found an additional source in other

teachers. In particular, the majority said that

teachers in our group learned many lessons

about L2 teaching from trial and error in their

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The Modern Language Journal 83 (1999)

teaching experiences. Their own classroom successes and failures influenced the development
and efficacy of their use of CLT. The classroom

experiences of these LOTE teachers (in the

about CLT. They believed that CLT (a) emphasized communication in the L2, (b) relied heavily
on speaking and listening skills, (c) involved little
grammar teaching, and (d) used time-consuming
activities. These conceptions were not static; however, numerous difficulties challenged them, and
it was the difficulties that helped give meaning to
and clarify the four conceptions. Through the
difficulties, we learned to view CLT as a fluid

roles of teacher or student, or both) revealed

their beliefs about L2 teaching and learning in
general (and in many cases CLT played a minor
part, if any, within their L2 learning and teaching repertoires). In short, beliefs formed from
personal experiences monitored what the teachers knew and what teacher practice meant to
these participants.

cations of their use of CLT. The teachers knew


within this Australian context. Nonetheless, the

concept that the LOTE teachers were still developing, and we acknowledged the practical ramifi-

CLT was part of their practice of L2 teaching

extent (or development) of CLT as part of their

A recent special issue of The Modern L2
instructional repertoires was related to their
Journal entitled "How Language Teaching
is perceived
conceptions, understandings, and
structed" provided an academic perspective
the topic (VanPatten, 1997). In the analysis
preThe interview data highlighted the fact that the
sented here, an attempt was made to understand
teachers believed CLT was possible, even though
L2 teaching from the teachers' perspectives, espeit was evolving and time-consuming. The observacially with regard to CLT. Together, the
data set
revealed the teachers' reluctance to imhighlighted the beliefs, knowledge, and practices
plement either interactive or innovative pracof these 10 Japanese LOTE teachers. We offered
tices, whereas the survey data showed that they
glimpses into how these participants understood
had tendencies to use both CLT and traditional
L2 learning, L2 teaching, and general teaching
(form-focused, teacher-centred) teaching asand learning notions. The interplay among the
pects. Together, all three data sets uncovered the
issues was complex, yet it was a complexity that
complexity teachers faced in defining their CLT
these participants dealt with daily.
knowledge, sharing their CLT practice, and tenThe beliefs, knowledge, and practices of these
dering their CLT beliefs. Through this study we
teachers created webs of tension that intensified
have learned that practice and theory for these
the act of L2 teaching and learning for the parL2 teachers created tensions that not only chalticipants in this study, regardless of the number
lenged their conceptions but also affected their
of years of experience in teaching and (L2)
actions in their learning environments. The data
teacher education background. Additionally, the
analysis and presentation articulated what teachinformation from this study provided evidence
ers thought and, as much as possible, we avoided
from the L2 community that supported Pajares's
comparing their conceptions with other defini(1992) 16 fundamental assumptions about teachtions, views, or policies. By so doing, we hope we
ers' educational beliefs. The data here confirmed
have begun to create a practical database for CLT.
the tendencies reported in general education
There are some further questions for future
studies and described their manifestations, using
information from the L2 teachers' interviews,
ob- that need to be asked with regard to the
to the first research question. How much
served classroom instruction, and completedanswers
surveys. In the discussion that ensues we seek to time
give do teachers think it will take to complete the
of CLT? How do teachers consciously
(partial) answers to our three research questions,

understand their fluid conceptions of CLT? How

discuss what was learned by investigating them,
they feel about their conceptions of CLT? To
and develop questions concerning them do
what extent do teachers want to implement CLT?
their answers. Finally, we offer ideas for future
How would reflection on these and other issues


affect teachers' conceptions of CLT: their beliefs,

What Are Japanese LOTE Teachers' Beliefs

and Knowledge About (Communicative)

Language Teaching?

knowledge, and practice? How do teachers think

their beliefs about L2 teaching interact with their
conceptions of CLT? How would teachers react to
seeing or hearing their own ideas about CLT pre-

sented in narrative form? These and other quesBy using three data sources, we learned that
tions provide ample fodder for eventual study.
the teachers in our study held four conceptions

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

How Do Japanese LOTE Teachers Implement CLT

in Their Classrooms ?

We learned that these LOTE teachers implemented CLT sparingly in their classrooms. Although the participants said that they wanted to
teach Japanese for communication and prioritized speaking and listening over writing and
reading, in their classrooms they explained the
Japanese language in English and promoted discrete-point grammar and vocabulary learning at
the expense of interactive, negotiated, and interpreting activities. They reported that they had
little time to create activities that promoted the
acquisition ofJapanese. We learned that evolving
CLT conceptions constrained and influenced L2
teaching and learning.
It is interesting to note that the teachers reported that CLT involved little grammar learning. Nonetheless, a major challenge mentioned
by many of the teachers pertained specifically to

grammar instruction. Just what was grammar's

role? They said they did not know how to handle
grammar in their classrooms, especially when, according to their perceptions, guidelines, scholars,
or policy-makers suggested that grammar was not
an integral CLT component. These teachers provided evidence that not only did they have difficulty ignoring grammar in what they perceived as
CLT, but they had a further problem with how to

teach it because most believed it was important

for language learners. Regardless, in the classroom it was not unusual to see teachers presenting grammar explicitly, in English, and adhering
to texts that were grammatically based.

would teachers classify various happenings (activities, strategies, techniques) in their classroom
when videotaped? How would teachers complete
a study to demonstrate how CLT is implemented?

Do teachers find the challenges in promoting

and implementing CLT too numerous to overcome? How can teachers explicitly detail their L2
instruction? How do teachers evolve from a grammar-oriented classroom to a communicatively oriented one? What CLT activities support language

acquisition and learning from a teacher's perspective? How would teachers clarify the role of
grammar in CLT if pressed?
How Are Japanese LOTE Teachers' Beliefs and

Knowledge About (Communicative) Language

Teaching Acquired and Developed?

We learned that the Japanese LOTE teachers

in this research found out about CLT individually

and personally. Although they stated that programs, inservices, and other teachers influenced
their teaching, they readily offered evidence that
it was their reliance on themselves that deter-

mined to no small extent their understandings.

Even when reporting that they watched other
teachers or included other teachers as a learning
source, they seldom described in any detail these
conversations with their colleagues. In essence,
they watched good and bad teachers and decided
for themselves what good and bad practices were
with regard to the particular observed strategy or
activity. Challenges also played a role with teachers in acquiring and developing their CLT acumen. The LOTE teachers' CLT beliefs, knowl-

Celce-Murcia (1991) acknowledged "that TESOL edge, and practices were not complete and
methodologists have not offered consistent ad- continued developing, by the teachers' own advice to teachers about the role of grammar in mission. They appeared willing to pursue their

language teaching over the past 25 years" (p. understandings of CLT. Just how they pursued it

462). LOTE methodologists may have a similar

would be worthy of in-depth case studies that
problem. Not only are there conflicting practical monitored them daily.
issues pertaining to grammar (highlighted by
Individual, if not isolated, stances provided a
these LOTE teachers), but there are also conflict- gatekeeping element for what these L2 teachers
ing theoretical issues in the literature as well (for learned and how they learned it. The analysis
discussions, see, e.g., Celce-Murcia, 1991; Larsen- provided sufficient evidence to substantiate one
Freeman, 1991). Finding a means for both prac- of Pajares's (1992) fundamental assumptions that
tice and theory to work together and improve the "beliefs are instrumental in defining tasks and
learning and acquisition of L2s may be one chal- selecting the cognitive tools with which to interlenge that practitioners and theoreticians can
pret, plan, and make decisions regarding such

work on together. Nonetheless, the place of gram- tasks; hence, they play a critical role in defining
mar within CLT needs some type of attention behavior and organizing knowledge and informafrom the practical perspectives of these LOTE tion" (p. 325). Participants in this study relied on

themselves, and their descriptions and actions

Further questions promoted by the concernsreflected

their understandings not only about

this section include, among others: To what CLT

ex- but also about general L2 teaching as well.

tent do teachers think they implement CLT? How

The LOTE teachers' instruction was guarded by

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The Modern LanguageJournal 83 (1999)

their beliefs and actions and guided by their perceived constraints and possibilities.
Richardson (1994) wrote, "Teachers make decisions on the basis of a personal sense of what
works, but without examining the beliefs underlying a sense of 'working,' teachers may perpetuate
practices based on questionable assumptions and
beliefs" (p. 6). This leads us to some additional
questions that require perusal. Whose perspec-

ence L2 teachers' beliefs and practices. Further

inquiries need to continue uncovering, examining, and clearly articulating the multiple layers
of understanding beliefs, knowledge, and practices. Moreover, other data sources and varying
analyses will provide further insight into the interactions of beliefs, knowledge, and practice.
Such multiplicity and diversity will allow for both

perceptual and conceptual information (see dis-

tive of questionable assumptions and beliefs cussion in Kessels & Korthagen, 1996) that can

should guide a study? How would teachers feel

about examining their beliefs? How would the
university handle teachers studying academicians' beliefs, knowledge, and practices concerning CLT? Do teachers see a connection between
how they acquired their (CLT or L2 learning and
teaching) beliefs and how they teach? How do

truly offer possibilities for significant, gradual

improvement that is needed in L2 education at
all levels. In revisiting some issues in his seminal
piece Schoolteacher, Lortie (1998) developed his

claim "that considerably more research is

needed on teachers and their work" (p. 161).

We would only add that this includes research,

teachers select what they learn from their experi- in its various forms, on L2 teachers and their

ences, from their preservice or inservice pro-

work as well.

grams, from the literature? How do students perceive CLT in the classrooms of these LOTE

(Japanese) teachers?


1 The data for this article were originally collected fo

an MA thesis (Sato, 1997). Since that time, the data hav

gone through many extended analyses and the manu

The issue of L2 teachers' beliefs, knowledge,

script has gone through numerous revisions (by bot
and practice is complex. The nuances and
subthe MA student and the thesis supervisor). We are grate

tlety of how these notions interact is elusive,

if Mary
not Roe and Donna Foss for their critical reflec
ful to

evasive. We attempt to highlight the L2tions

and insights on earlier drafts. Yet the responsibilit

perspective and offer a glimpse of CLT from

pracfor the
manuscript remains ours. We also wish to em

titioners' understandings. Floden (1997)

phasizesugthat this

manuscript was written with the inten

of sharing it with the L2 teacher education community
This is important to note, as Glesne and Peshkin (199

gested that
tensions among educational purposes are revealed as
we attempt to reach practical accommodations. It is
helpful to see these difficulties clearly. We need, how-

ever, to build on these insights, pushing beyond

merely saying that our work is hard. We need to

reminded us that we need not only to consider th

audience for whom we are writing, but also recogniz

that writing for a particular audience may create some
limitations. Relying upon Van Maanen's (1988) work

they wrote, "how does the projected audience shap

investigate particular promising approaches, and to

both the form and the substance of the researcher's

pursue analyses that show why things are hard, in the

product? The researcher may use tables and charts with

one audience, but not with another. Or the researcher

hopes of gradual, but significant, improvement. (p.

283, italics original)

We hope that the current article provides not

only a view of practical accommodations, but

also a clear description of what is hard about
understanding and implementing CLT. Further
research that includes participants who represent more Japanese LOTE teachers, other LOTE
teachers, and various LOTE teachers in other
countries will help show the difficulties of teach-

ing and learning, and theory and practice. In

addition, it will be important to investigate just

how individual teachers interact with their varying challenges within particular contexts. Kleinsasser (1993) is one of the few researchers who
studied just how differing school contexts influ-

may use a disciplined-based language if writing for col-

leagues, but not for a more general group of people.

Researchers tell different things in different ways to
different people" (Glesne & Peshkin, 1992, p. 154).
For this manuscript, we chose narrative to present our
findings. We saw our task to articulate clearly the various

issues for the L2 teacher education community so they

could understand where we were situating ourselves

with regard to the study, how we completed our study,
and how we viewed our understandings of the findings

and implications. We hope we have accomplished this

by writing in a way that includes the community's participation in actively reading the text and negotiating,
interpreting, and expressing its many meanings.
2We are aware of the work of Clark and Peterson

(1986), who wrote one of the first reviews of this area of

scholarship. Yet, Pajares (1992) included this work, is

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Kazuyoshi Sato and Robert C. Kleinsasser

tive and the prescriptive without imposing someone's

judgment, whether originating from the people in the
setting ('What we really need around here . . .'), from
3 The analysis for this article scanned the data for
expert opinion ('If these people knew what was good for
them ...'), or from the researcher's own assessment ('I
tendencies of issues regarding teachers' years of expericannot help wondering whether.. .'). True, there is an
ence. Overall, the findings appeared to be scattered
throughout the data set regardless of years of experi- evaluative dimension to all description, but the antidote
ence, showing few tendencies that actually contrasted. is restraint" (pp. 55-56).
5 We approach the discussion and conclusion with
This should not be surprising as Huberman's (1993)
study of 160 secondary teachers found that teachers in trepidation, as does Wolcott (1990, p. 55). Yet, the provarying stages of their teaching career mentioned simi- fession still demands some type of closure, so we attempt
lar tendencies related to their teaching careers. More- it. We return to the three research questions that outmore recent, and integrated more thoroughly the work
completed since the 1986 publication. We are also aware
of the work of Carter (1990) and Elbaz (1991).

over Huberman reported some challenges when trying lined our narrative and follow Wolcott's advice to review
to predict various stages of job satisfaction: "In some of "succinctly what has been attempted, what has been
the statistical analyses conducted in the study but not learned, and what new questions have been raised"
reported in this text, we did arrive at reliable predictions(Wolcott, 1990, p. 56).
of levels of satisfaction at the beginning of the career.
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Web Site for ACTFL Research SIG

The ACTFL Special Interest Group for Research announces their new Web site:

Look for paper sessions, poster sessions, and a business meeting at ACTFL Annual Meetings. Propo

for sessions are solicited.

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