In the 1980ís the Communicative Approach to language teaching became the accepted approach to language teaching.  It was a move away from grammar-based approaches.  The Communicative Approach is about learning language for a communicative reason and focuses on real/authentic tasks and situations.  With this approach we began to focus on the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, as the average person in their native language spends more time listening than speaking, more time speaking than reading and least time writing. 

 

"What theory implies, quite simply, is that language acquisition, first or second, occurs when comprehension of real messages occurs, and when the acquirer is not 'on the defensive'... Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill. It does not occur overnight, however. Real language acquisition develops slowly, and speaking skills emerge significantly later than listening skills, even when conditions are perfect. The best methods are therefore those that supply 'comprehensible input' in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are 'ready', recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production."

Stephen Krashen: The Natural Approach