The PPP Approach to Communicative Language Teaching
"PPP" (or the "3Ps") stands for Presentation, Practice and Production - a common approach to communicative language teaching that works through the progression of three sequential stages.
Presentation represents the introduction to a lesson, and necessarily requires the creation of a realistic (or realistic-feeling) "situation" requiring the target language to be learned. This can be achieved through using pictures, dialogs, imagination or actual "classroom situations". The teacher checks to see that the students understand the nature of the situation, then builds the "concept" underlying the language to be learned using small chunks of language that the students already know. Having understood the concept, students are then given the language "model" and angage in choral drills to learn statement, answer and question forms for the target language. This is a very teacher-orientated stage where error correction is important.
Practice usually begins with what is termed "mechanical practice" - open and closed pairwork. Students gradually move into more "communicative practice" involving procedures like information gap activities, dialog creation and controlled roleplays. Practice is seen as the frequency device to create familiarity and confidence with the new language, and a measuring stick for accuracy. The teacher still directs and corrects at this stage, but the classroom is beginning to become more learner-centered.
Production is seen as the culmination of the language learning process, whereby the learners have started to become independent users of the language rather than students of the language. The teacher's role here is to somehow facilitate a realistic situation or activity where the students instinctively feel the need to actively apply the language they have been practicing. The teacher does not correct or become involved unless students directly appeal to him/her to do so.
The PPP approach is relatively straight forward, and structured enough to be easily understood by both students and new or emerging teachers. It is a good place to start in terms of applying good communicative language teaching in the classroom. It has also been criticized considerably for the very characteristic that makes it the easiest method for 'beginner' teachers, that is, that it is far too teacher-orientated and over controlled. A nice alternative to 'PPP' is Harmer's 'ESA' (Engage/Study/Activate) - click here to find out more.