ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to measure empirically whether beginning FL classes are more communicative now than they were 17 years ago. Two sets of classroom obsewations, which form the basis of the study, were designed to observe the types and amounts of speaking activities in which beginning foreign language students engage, in order to determine how and to what extent students practice the language artificially in drills and other forms of pseudocom-munication, and how and to what extent they use the foreign language as a real means of communication. The results of the 1993 investigation were then compared with data from a similar study completed in 1976, so that change in classroom speaking activities over the past 17 years could be measured.

Using an observation tool which divided talk on a scale of least selection by the speaker as in repetition drills to total selection such as in free expression-or “real communication” (RLC), as it is called in this study-the results indicate an increase in RLC for both students and teachers, and a shift toward 12 as the language of instruction.