The success of every language learning or teaching process is in the ability of the learners to use the language appropriately. Language learning or teaching theories is not what is important here, what is important is showing your learners how to use language to apologise, haggle, disagree, plead, argue etc. in the target language. It will be easier for learners to learn the structures of a language through use and not the other way round.
As an English teacher, you are expected to teach grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation of the English language. You are also expected to teach the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. A major success in teaching the aforementioned skills is dependent on your ability to choose the right methodology for your learners.
There are several ways of presenting the grammar of any language to learners. However, it has been proven that some methodologies are more effective than others. Language is most meaningful in the context of usage. It is therefore important to show students what the target language is used for. Context help students understand the language and engage with it. Students will find this approach meaningful because they are being taught how to use the language in their everyday lives rather than just being served a bowl of cold grammar rules.
One of the focal points of Dell Hymes communicative theory is expressed in this thought: ‘there are rules of use without which the rules of grammar will be useless’. It is not knowing the rules of a language that matters but knowing how to use the rules appropriately to communicate in any given situation. The way a language is used is as important as the grammar of the language. It will be an exercise in futility to teach a language without giving a context in which language is used. For instance, the word ‘house’ has more than one meaning and pronunciation. It is the context of use that will determine the meaning and pronunciation to be deployed. Therefore, teaching learners just the meaning of the word without the corresponding context will leave leaners in limbo because they are bound to make mistakes eventually.
Language, in its most basic form, performs something! It then becomes important for teachers of English and other languages to make their language lesson functional in orientation because if they concentrate all their efforts on teaching grammar and its and rules, there wouldn’t be time enough for students to practice the target language. Therefore, make your lesson meaning focussed not rule focussed.