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At the end of the lesson, you are expected to:
1. Familiarize and understand the principles of interactive language teaching.
2. Gain insights from the principles to better facilitate language teaching.
What is interactive language teaching?
Wilga Rivers stated that through interaction, students can increase their language store as they
listen to or read authentic linguistic material, or even the output of their fellow students in
discussions, skit, joint problem-solving tasks, or dialogue journals. In interaction, students can
use all they possess of the language – all they have learned or casually absorbed in real-life
exchanges. Even at an elementary stage, they learn in this way to exploit the elasticity of
Through interaction students can create RAPORT with the teacher and vice versa. And the
students may have a good communication among them.
Principles of Interactive Language Teaching
The Principles of Interactive Language Teaching, by Wilga M. Rivers, focuses on the educators
and using best practices in developing language learners. Rivers has developed ten principles
that supports learning a language and uses a philosophy of teachers as a facilitator who foster
an environment suitable for learning.
Principle 1: The student is the language learner
The first principle focuses on the student language learner and their motivation. It is up to the
teacher to discover the motivation for each child through the use of different activities and a
variety of course content.
Students must realize they are responsible for their own learning; they will take this
responsibility more seriously if they themselves discover and work at their own weaknesses and
Principle 2: Language learning and teaching are shaped by student needs and objectives in
particular circumstances
The second principle discusses the importance of adapting to the student's needs and their
objectives, resulting in a change in content and techniques by the educator.
It is imperative in the present period of rapid change that language teachers study carefully the
language learners in their classes _ their ages, backgrounds, aspirations, interests, goals in
language learning, aptitude for language acquisition in a formal setting, and opportunities for
language use outside of the classroom (see Principle 10) _ and then design language courses
and language teaching materials that meet the needs of specific groups.
Principle 3: Language learning and teaching are based on normal uses of language, with
communication of meanings (in oral or written form ) basic to all strategies and techniques
Focuses on providing students will ample opportunity to use language in the everyday language.
Students develop fundamental communication skills, including negotiating meaning through
the process of conversation interludes.
To learn a language naturally, one needs much practice in using the language for the normal
purposes language serves in everyday life. This is in contradistinction to the artificial types of
drills and practice exercises to which many learners are still subjected. Manipulation of
structural patterns in some presumed logical order in a sequence that is semantically
incoherent does not prepare the learner for normal uses of language. Language practice should
already be as close to real communication as practicable. Even practice exercises should be
designed to elicit an exchange of new information of interest to the participants.
Principle 4: Classroom relations reflect mutual liking and respect, allowing for both teacher
personality and student personality in a non-threatening atmosphere of cooperative learning
The fourth principle promotes a safe and inclusive classroom with mutual respect amongst the
students and the teacher. Student's must feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in making
An interactive language-learning environment requires that students and teachers, and
students among themselves, reach a stage of being comfortable with each other, interested in
each other, and respectful of each other's personal temperament-imposed limits. In order to
achieve this equilibrium, teachers must feel comfortable with what they are doing, just as
students must be comfortable with what they are expected to do. Teachers need to develop a
realistic understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses as instructors and as individuals,
selecting approaches and techniques that play to their strengths. They must also know how far
they can go in interpersonal relations and how they best relate to others, allowing themselves
time to get to know their students' individual ways of reacting. Both teachers and students
have to be willing to take risks and laugh together when things go wrong. Together they must
exorcise the fear of failure (which is as real for teachers as for students).
Principle 5: Basic to use of language are language knowledge and language control
The fifth principle explains the importance of the fundamental framework of a language, and
educators must introduce new language with great care and model appropriately.
Basic to use of a language is a mental representation of how that language works. We need a
certain basis of systematic knowledge in order to be able to operate in the language, no matter
how minimally.
Principle 6: Development of language control proceeds through creativity, which is nurtured
by interactive, participatory activities
The sixth principle discusses the benefits of collaboration and the importance of learning from
their peer without the assistance of the teacher.
The ultimate goal for our students is to be able to use the language they are learning for their
own purposes, to express their own meanings, that is, to create their own formulations to
express their intentions.
Principle 7: Every possible medium and modality is used to aid learning
The seventh principle focuses on the importance of interactive learning. Educators must use a
variety strategies to provide connections for student and as a result students interaction leads
to communication through language.
Language teaching or learning that restricts itself in the main to presentation and practice in
one modality (e.g., the visual in a traditional grammar-translation approach) does not prepare
the learner for the full array of contexts in which items may recur. For these reasons,
interactive learning needs to draw on every type of experience to reinforce what is being
learned: physical response, aural input, spoken output, reading materials, written expression,
word puzzles, the act of drawing what is meant, the manipulation of objects (in the Pestalozzian
tradition), interpretation of pictures, acting out of scenes, music, song, dance, purposeful tasks
(e.g., making things, preparing and eating them), gestures, facial expressions, communicative
interludes, and so on.
Principle 8: Testing is an aid to learning
The eighth principle discusses the importance of formative assessment and how tests should be
a tool to aid the learning and conducted at an interpersonal level.
Testing has so often been punitive. Students become very nervous about tests, which as often
as not seek to discover what the students do not know or cannot immediately recall, rather
than providing them with an opportunity to demonstrate to the examiners and themselves
what they can do with the language. Many test-writers, unfortunately, concentrate on minutiae
of language, looking for little slips or familiarity with lesser known grammatical usages rather
then the broader aspects of comprehensible and acceptable language use. (Is this why teachers
need answer keys to help them correct tests?) We must work to reduce in every possible way
the debilitating level of anxiety and apprehension from which many students suffer in testing
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Principle 9: Language Learning is penetrating another culture; students learn to operate
harmoniously within it or in contact with it
Focuses on the importance of students learning and understanding different cultures and
customs that they may not acquire from a textbook or film and may lead to a misunderstanding
once they are in this culture.
Through our attempts to understand the cultural-linguistic behavior of others, we come to
understand our own value systems and our own culture-laden language use. As a result, we
emerge enriched, as we broaden our experience of human ways of thinking and behaving; we
develop a tolerance for difference, even within apparent similarity; and we learn to interact
harmoniously and comfortably with others from different backgrounds, within our own and
other societies, without confusion of our own sense of identity.
Such a result does not come of itself; it requires hard work, hard thinking, patience, and
persistence on the part of both teacher and learner.
Principle 10: The real world extends beyond the classroom walls; language learning takes
place in and out of the classroom
Discusses the importance of moving away from traditional teaching and promoting a variety of
learning opportunities, such as experiences beyond the classroom walls.
"Language is a natural function of human association," according to Dewey. The more
opportunities we have for human association with speakers of our new language, the more
potential for growth in control of language for normal uses and spontaneous expression. In
second language and bilingual situations, teachers with interactive aims have many possibilities
available for strengthening language learning outside of the classroom through facilitating
contacts between second-language learners and the native-speaker community surrounding
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