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In 1970s the new Hymes’ proposed a new theory of language
that states knowing language is not just knowing grammatical rules and communicative
context has some rules related to culture (Heaton, 1990). Therefore, the aim
of communicative language teaching derived from Hymes’ theory was to
incorporate tasks that simulate everyday language use i.e. how to communicate
with language.

In 1970s by denounced of teaching
grammar, the goal of language teaching broadened from accuracy to both fluency
and accuracy. Therefore, instead of specifying a set of grammar and vocabulary
to learn, curricula and courses were redesigned based on learners’ needs (Richards, 2006). In fact, mastering linguistic
knowledge was no longer the only goal in language learning.

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Advent of CLT is accompanied with a
shift, from traditional quantitative one to a new alternative in assessment
trend i.e. the qualitative descriptive one. This shift was advantageous for several
reasons. For example, since in this trend a detailed description of each
performance level is provided, the reliability of scoring is increased. Also,
learner and teacher know which aspect of language learning requires further
development. To put it in nutshell, this trend is more consistent with the
changes and classroom practice that CLT seeks than the traditional one.

During past 40 years, several
models for communicative language ability (CLA) proposed by different scholars.
These models are considered the headway of curriculum, course design, and
assessment. Some of these models enjoy empirical research to define components
of CLA e.g. Canale and Swain 1980; Bachman and Palmer, 1996; Douglas, 2000 and
Purpura 2004. Such approaches aim to reflect how L2 learners use these
components. They provide potential targets of assessment for different purposes
and contexts rather than prescribing a test development guide. Another
approach HF1 uses firsthand experience
and opinions of experts who have clear ideas and skills in communication in L2
for developing curriculum and assessment standards like ESL standards for
pre-k12 tests. These standards describe learners’ achievements without explicit
model of proficiency or systematic inquiry to verify them. Similarly, CEFR attempts
to specify what learners “can do” with language at various proficiency levels
by a set of statements. Generally, these statements are based on a set of
general competencies and a set of language specific ones which is considered essential
for communication. In another approach, components of CLA are defined in terms
of how language is used through skills i.e. listening, reading, writing,
speaking not formal elements of language e.g. iBT TOEFL test design framework (Purpura,
Currently, Textbook developers seem to have used something in between the
second and third approach for CLA since as mentioned earlier no research based
framework has been developed for textbooks.

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