“Shouldn’t We Do More Grammar?”: Learners’ Perspectives on the Communicative Approach in the Russian L2 Classroom


  • Maria Bondarenko
  • Vita V. Kogan




motivation, dynamic conception of motivation, communicative approach to teaching second and foreign languages, cognitive and learning styles, tolerance for ambiguity, consultative approach


The communicative approach to language teaching (CA) has commonly been recognized as having a positive impact on student motivation. However, language instructors notice that the CA does not elicit enthusiastic response from all learners. Based on the dynamic conception of motivation (Dörnyei & Ryan, 2015), this paper shares data from the empirical study examining Russian L2 learners’ attitudes to the CA. A qualitative analysis of 241 comments collected from 448 participants in five North-American institutions enabled us to distinguish thematic clusters organized along the lines of the contrast between total-acceptance vs. criticism/disappointment. The findings also demonstrate students’ readiness to participate in discussions on L2 methodology. We propose that students’ attitudes to the CA correlate with their ability to cope with novelty and discuss this assumption in connection with “tolerance for ambiguity” as a constitutive feature of the CA (Oprandy, 1999), on the one hand, and cognitive learning style theory—which also makes use of the concept of “tolerance for ambiguity” (Grigorenko et al., 2000)—on the other. Finally, we raise the possibility of the “consultative L2 pedagogy” approach—the term we propose to use to indicate students participation in the process of curriculum design, including decisions related to teaching methodology.