William Littlewood adopted a Communicative Language Teaching Theory upon which he bases his findings. He believes that motivation is key to success in a second language and effective communication in a wide range of situations is far more beneficial than perfect mastery of vocabulary and grammar. He stresses
the need to give learners extensive opportunities to use the target language for real communicative purposes
At the same time it must be understood that contemporary methods and approaches must include other methods, less widely used on an individual basis but important as a contributor to the whole.
Situational language teaching encourages the teaching of grammar and vocabulary in various situations – phrase books are a good example where the buyer of a phrase book is presented with the expected vocabulary he will need in the hotel, at the airport, in a shop or at a bar and so on.
The natural method emphasizes the acquiring of vocabulary through facing situations as they arise.
How language functions is also more important in Communicative Language theory than its actual form or structure. How language engages (encourages participation) will ensure success rather than a mechanical following of rules and procedures of learning.
Although Littlewood does not offer any official discussion of his learning theory, it is understood that certain elements must be present in his model such as
1) the communication principle: activities that include REAL communication
2) the task principle: language is used when tasks are carried out
3) meaningfulness principle: tasks are meaningful to the learner
To Littlewood, second language learning is far more important than the process of actual language acquisition which can be meaningless.
Slills development is also essential to Littlewood’s Communicative Language Teaching and complements the theory.