Tag Archives: Honing Our Craft

Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching

Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching (CCLT) is a teaching approach that encourages teachers to embrace the essential role of comprehension and understanding as a first step in acquiring language. I’d like to dive into CCLT, taking inspiration from the incredible work of Claudia Fernandez, who writes about this topic in the book “Honing Our Craft.

Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching (French, Spanish)

What is Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching?

CCLT is a teaching approach that redefines the role of comprehension in language acquisition. To understand the significance of CCLT, we must first look at its roots in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), which emphasized the importance of communication. CLT introduced the concept of Communicative Competence (Canale and Swain, 1980), highlighting the role of interaction and production in language learning. However, it was Krashen’s Input Hypothesis (1985) that shifted the spotlight towards comprehension, suggesting that understanding messages is essential and sufficient for language acquisition.

What is Communication…Really?

One common misconception in language teaching is equating communication solely with oral production. This misconception has led to a disproportionate emphasis on production within current teaching practices, often relegating comprehension to a secondary role. CCLT aims to dispel this notion and place input (comprehension) at the center of the curriculum. While production is not neglected, it’s the understanding of messages that takes precedence.

How Do We DO CCLT?

In a CCLT classroom, remember to speak the target language for most of the class time. Make input activities meaningful and engaging, fostering an environment where students naturally strive for comprehension.

Don’t forget that accuracy in language is developed gradually, and comprehension is, in fact, a form of communication. Avoid planning classes solely around grammar points—grammar is a tool, not the ultimate goal of language learning.

In Conclusion

Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching offers a fresh perspective on language education. It shifts the focus from rote production to meaningful comprehension, aligning with how language is acquired in the real world. By embracing CCLT, you empower your students to not just speak the language but truly understand and communicate with confidence—a goal at the heart of language education.


Claudia Fernandez (2024) “Chapter 4: What is and What is Not Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching? (CCLT) ” in Henshaw, Florencia G., et al. Honing Our Craft: World Language Teaching Today. Klett World Languages, 2024.

Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical Bases of Communicative Approaches to Second Language Teaching and Testing. Applied Linguistics, 1, 1-47.

Krashen, S. (1985). The input hypothesis: Issues and implications. New York: Longman.

113: Honing Our Craft with Dr. Florencia Henshaw & Dr. Kim Potowski

Have you listened to the last 2 episodes about Comprehension-Based Language Teaching and Standards-Based Grading? I referenced the book Honing Our Craft, World Language Teaching Today as I prepared those topics. In today’s episode I have the 2 editors of Honing Our Craft, Dr. Florencia Henshaw and Dr. Kim Potowski, who speak about their objectives behind this project, working through the content with 15 contributors and how language teachers can most efficiently and effectively use this very user-friendly resource.

Honing Our Craft

  • Edited by Florecia Henshaw (Director of Advanced Spanish at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) & Kim Potowski (Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of Illinois, Chicago)
  • 12 chapters written by educators for educators, with a focus on bridging the gap between research and practical application.
  • Practical applications and suggestions for language educators that they can adapt to their particular contexts. 
  • Use this link and the discount code JOSHUA25HOC to save 25% on the book.

In This Episode:

  • What Florencia and Kim would you like educators to gain from reading Honing Our Craft.
  • The “user friendly”chapter layout.
  • The process of editing a volume like Honing Our Craft, where the initial idea come from and the writer/editor relationship.
  • How Florencia and Kim suggest that teachers use Honing Our Craft 

Remember to use this link and the discount code JOSHUA25HOC to get save 25% on the book.

Connect with Dr. Florencia Henshaw:

Connect with Dr. Kim Potowski:

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