Differences Between Audio Lingual and Communicative Language Teaching Methods

The audio lingual method, or the Army method, or also the New key, is the mode of language instruction based on behaviourist ideology, which professes that certain traits of living things could be trained through a system of reinforcement. The instructor would present the correct model of a sentence and the students would have to repeat it. Read More about Philology   The teacher would then continue by presenting new words for the students to sample in the same structure. There is no explicit grammar instruction everything is simply memorized in form. The idea is for the students to practice the particular construction until they can use it spontaneously. In this manner, the lessons are built on static drills in which the students have little or no control on their own output. 
The communicative language teaching is am approach to the teaching of second and foreign languages that emphasizes communication or interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. The communicative language teaching was the product of educators and linguists who had grown dissatisfied with earlier Grammar Translation and Audio Lingual Methods, where students were not learning enough realistic, socially necessary language.Read More about Philology   Therefore they became interested in the development of communicative style teaching in the 1970s, focusing on authentic language use and classroom exchanges where students engaged in real communication with one another. The goal of communicative language teaching is of creating communicative competence in the learners. It makes use of real life situations.

The CLT and ALM differ from various aspects. Basic differences as presented by Finocchiaro and Brumfit(1983) are given below:

Parameters Communicative Language Teaching Audio Lingual Methods
Meaning and structure

Meaning is paramount. Attends to structure and form more than meaning.

Contextualization is a basic premise. Read More about Teaching English  
Language items are not necessarily contextualized.
Learning objectives

Language learning is learning to communicate. Language Learning is learning structures, sounds or words.

Effective communication is sought. Mastery or "overlearning" is sought.

Drilling may occur, but peripherally. Drilling is a central technique.

Comprehensible pronunciation is sought. Native-speaker-like pronunciation is sought.
Grammatical explanation

Any device which helps the learners is accepted - varying according to their age, interest, etc. Grammatical explanation is avoided.

Attempts to communicate may be encouraged from the very beginning.

Read More about Teaching English  

Communicative activities only come after a long process of rigid drills and exercises.
Native language

Judicious use of native language is accepted where feasible. The use of the learners' native language is forbidden.

Translation may be used where learners need or benefit from it. Translation is forbidden at early levels.
Reading and writing

Reading and writing can start from the first day, if desired. Reading and writing are deferred until speech is mastered.
Teaching Patterns

The target linguistic system will be learned best through the process of struggling to communicate. The target linguistic system will be learned through the overt teaching of the patterns of the system.

Communicative competence is the desired goal.

Linguistic competence is the desired goal.
Language variation

Linguistic variation is a central concept in materials and methods.

Varieties of language are recognized but not emphasized.

Sequencing is determined by any consideration of content function, or meaning which maintains interest.
The sequence of units is determined solely on principles of linguistic complexity.Read More about Teaching English  

Language is created by the individual often through trial and error. "Language is habit" so error must be prevented at all costs.


Fluency and acceptable language is the primary goal: accuracy is judged not in the abstract but in context. Accuracy, in terms of formal correctness, is a primary goal.
Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation will spring from an interest in what is being communicated by the language.
Intrinsic motivation will spring from an interest in the structure of the language. Read More about Teaching English  
Teacher's function

Teachers help learners in any way that motivates them to work with the language.

The teacher controls the learners and prevents them from doing anything that conflict with the theory.

Learners are expected to interact with other people, either in the flesh, through pair and group work, or in their writings. Learners are expected to interact with the language system, embodied in machines or controlled materials.
Learner Language

The teacher cannot know exactly what language the learners will use.Read More about Teaching English  
The teacher is expected to specify the language that learners are to use.
Teachers' responsibility

The teachers assume a responsibility for determining and responding to learner's language need. The teachers have no responsibility to determine learner's language need.

Communicative language teaching often uses a functional-notional syllabus. A notional-functional syllabus is more a way of organizing a language learning curriculum than a method or an approach to teaching. Read More about Teaching English  On the other hand, Audiolingualism is a linguistic, or structure based approach to language teaching. The starting point is a linguistic syllabus which contains the key items of phonology, morphology, and syntax of the language arranged according to their order of presentation.Read More about Philology  
Instructional materials:In communicative language teaching, instructional materials have the primary role of promoting communicative language use. In audio-lingual method, instructional materials assist the teacher to develop language mastery in the learner.
  Ardhendu De 

REF: Wiki, Encarta, Learning Tool: Harris Goldsmith, IGNOU Study Materials , Lectures of my Teacher Prof. Gopal Sutradhar