top of page

The Communicative Approach Era Ends, Making Way for the Systematic Approach

Acquiring communicative competence, the ability to effectively and accurately use a foreign language in communication, is the primary goal of learning foreign languages. This competence encompasses various language skills, including speaking, writing, reading, and listening, along with socio-cultural skills enabling individuals to understand and express themselves in different communicative situations. Foreign language thinking, which underlies spontaneous speech and comprehension, is shaped by language rules. These rules, when systematically interconnected, should form a significant part of the learning process.

The Role of Language Codes

Speech proficiency is closely connected to mastering the entire system of language codes, such as phonemic, lexical, and logical-grammatical aspects. Many issues arising during foreign language learning stem not from insufficient communicative potential but from an inadequate grasp of the foreign language's coding system. Foreign communicative competence is, therefore, an extension of language competence, involving the mastery of the linguistic knowledge inherent in a foreign language.

Challenges of the Communicative Approach

A predominant reliance on the communicative approach, which emphasizes social language use, has led to challenges. This approach prioritizes communication over linguistic form, often resulting in grammar being studied less systematically or not systematically at all. Consequently, learners may use the language haphazardly.

Limitations of the Communicative Approach

Despite its popularity, the communicative approach often falls short of achieving complete communicative competence. It has been criticized for not adequately considering learners' mentalities and cultural backgrounds, leading to difficulties in comparing language systems and understanding linguistic transfers. This can result in psychological and emotional challenges for learners.

The Nature of the Communicative Approach

The communicative approach, while popular, is not a comprehensive methodology but a collection of techniques. It focuses on using language for practical communication purposes. It encourages interaction, authentic materials, and extracurricular language practice but may neglect pronunciation and grammar. This approach places the responsibility on teachers to adapt their teaching methods.

Challenges for Teachers

Teachers using the communicative approach may face difficulties in aligning discussion topics with learners' language and communicative abilities. They must decide when and how to correct errors, especially when students are encouraged to speak freely. These challenges can lead to language incompetence among learners.

The Need for a Systematic Approach

The systematic approach to foreign language learning offers a solution. It focuses on understanding the language system, developing language resources systematically, and forming automated language habits. Systematic learning reduces the time needed to grasp language elements compared to other approaches.

Benefits of the Systematic Approach

A systematic approach allows learners to shift their focus within the language system, enabling them to learn with feedback and make informed decisions about their speech actions. Language skills acquired systematically become universal, applicable in various situations, and less prone to forgetting.

Orienting Actions in Language Learning

Orienting actions are integral to the systematic approach, aiding learners in spatial orientation. These actions help learners understand and express spatial-temporal and causal relationships in language. Such an approach minimizes the time spent on theoretical aspects and maximizes practical skill development.

Effective Presentation of Material

Presenting material systematically leads to qualitative leaps in communicative competence. Lexical material, organized by parts of speech, serves as an orienting tool for syntactic analysis, allowing learners to synthesize speech from the start.


The systematic approach to foreign language learning offers a structured, efficient, and comprehensive methodology. It aligns with the dialectical principle of systemic nature, emphasizing both structure and function. This approach develops language skills that are adaptable and resilient, contributing to communicative competence throughout life. Ultimately, a systematic approach ensures not only linguistic competence but also balanced language activities and enriched individual consciousness, resulting in high-quality language command. Therefore, it is a promising alternative to the communicative approach, empowering learners for comprehensive language use in various contexts.

Translated and adapted from Коммуникативная Ценность Системного Подхода к Изучению Иностранных Языков. Accessed September 24.

Recent Posts

See All

Porter's Five Forces Framework

Grandomastery, within Porter's Five Forces Framework, faces the following dynamics: Threat of Substitute Products or Services: Grandomastery addresses a niche market with its integrative thinking trai


bottom of page