The 5 C's
Curricula, textbooks and teacher preparation, armed with theories and research, have held up the Five C’s of Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons and Communities, in the belief that people of all ages learn languages more effectively if they are involved in interpersonal, interpretive and presentational activities with one another. Beware of alliterative slogans in education!
There is nothing inherently wrong with these five categories except that in their implementation, they have put the hard work in the background. Perhaps it is a symptom of our culture with its emphasis on having “fun."
The idea is to move them “beyond merely" conjugating verbs correctly, to use a common metaphor for talking about grammar generally. In other words, according to the “latest" thinking, it is important to “get students interacting verbally" from the get go, which is to say, before they have mastered proper grammar paradigms.
But wait! If learners aren’t conjugating the verbs correctly already, and if they are engaged with each other, then they are going to reinforce each other’s bad habits, fossilizing their errors – and feel very good about themselves – because they have communicated and interacted.
Imagine turning a group of people loose with a Monopoly game and telling them that what matters most is being able to roll the dice and move the correct number of spaces around the board in the right direction, taking turns and collecting $200 each time they pass GO. To a casual observer, they would appear to be playing the game, but on closer examination, it is a dog-and-pony show.
Take a look at this website by Teaching Foreign Languages (TFL) and perhaps you’ll agree with me that the Five C’s approach has eclipsed the four skills that were the cornerstone of foreign language pedagogy a couple of decades ago.
In my thirty years of classroom experience, the successful language learner is the one who cares about the details. The most frustrated -- and frustrating -- ones are those who precociously churn out sentences with such poor command of those dirty little details as to make their speech nearly unintelligible to a native speaker of that language.