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English Language Teaching Methods

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 5405 words Published: 18th Apr 2017

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BACKGROUND: The Grammar Translation Method is the oldest method of teaching. The grammar translation method is a foreign language teaching method derived from the classical (sometimes called traditional) method of teaching Greek and Latin. This method has been used from the classical times to translate classical languages, Latin and Greek, it has been called Classical method.

ADVANTAGES: The phraseology of the target language is quickly explained. Translation is the easiest way of explaining meanings or words and phrases from one language into another. Communication between the teacher and the learner does not cause linguistic problems. Even teachers who are not fluent in English can teach English through this method.

DISADVANTAGES: It is an unnatural method. The natural order of learning a language is listening, speaking, reading and writing. Speech is neglected. The Grammar Translation Method lays emphasis on reading and writing. Exact translation is not possible. Translation is, indeed, a difficult task and exact translation from one language to another is not always possible. It rather attempts to teach language through rules and not by use. The persons who have learned a foreign or second language through this method find it difficult to give up the habit of first thinking in their mother tongue and then translating their ideas into the second language. The ability to communicate in the target language is not a goal of foreign language instruction. The primary skills to be developed are reading and writing. Little attention is given to speaking and listening, and almost none to pronunciation.

TEACHER ROLE: The teacher is the authority in the classroom. There is no interaction from teacher to the students (except in questions).

STUDENT ROLE: Students are the passive receivers of the new information. Students are supposed to memorize the rules and the new vocabulary with their meanings in their native language. If students can translate from one language to another, they are considered successful language learners. It is very important that students get the correct answer.

METHODOLOGY: Teaching and learning process is based on translation, the study of grammar rules through examples (deductive approach) and memorization of vocabulary. Texts from the target language literature are used. The techniques used are: Translation, Reading comprehension questions, antonyms/synonyms, cognates, deductive application of rule, fill in the blanks, memorization, use of new words in sentences, composition, and so on.

L1 USAGE: Classes are conducted in the native language. Students use their native language to translate. Since oral communication in the target language is not important, classroom instructions are given in L1.

L2 USAGE: The use of the foreign language is limited; teacher and students use it only to translate words or sentences to their mother tongue to the foreign language.

LISTENING: little attention is given to speaking and listening. There is no listening training. Students only listen the foreign language when translate. No listening exercises.

SPEAKING: Also this is not an important aspect of the method, teacher doesn’t work on speaking. No speaking (but the translation, because it may be spoken) the ability to communicate in the target language is not a goal of foreign language instruction. No pronunciation exercises.

READING: read literature in the target language is the aim of this method. Grammar rules and vocabulary are stressed. A fundamental purpose of learning a foreign language is to be able to read literature written in it.

WRITING: reading and writing are studied at the same time. The importance in this method is to read and write the foreign language translating from their mother tongue.

EVALUATION: Translation is an important technique to test students’ progress in the target language. In addition, “fill-in-the-blank” type test items are also used. Synonyms, antonyms, and cognates can be asked to test vocabulary in formal tests. Reading passages and comprehension questions about the passages can also take place in tests as the reading section.

PERSONAL OPINION: Nowadays teachers shouldn’t base their teaching practice only on this method. Students probably find it boring and discouraging, besides the most important goal when we are learning a foreign language is to be able to communicate in this language, and this method doesn’t put any attention to this aspect. But rather than reject totally this method, teachers can use it sometimes when they need, for example, to convey the meaning of a difficult word when other visual aids can’t help students.

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BACKGROUND: This method was developed initially as a reaction to the grammar-translation method in an attempt to integrate more use of the target language in instruction. It was develop by Maximilian Berlitz. He started to use it in the schools that bear his name in 1878. It was successful in the beginning but its popularity started to decay in the 1920’s when schools start to complement the method with more controlled grammar based activity.

The direct method of teaching foreign languages, sometimes called the natural method, refrains from using the learners’ native language and uses only the target language. The direct method was an answer to the dissatisfaction with the older grammar translation method, which teaches students grammar and vocabulary through direct translations and thus focuses on the written language.

ADVANTAGES: Students can learn the target language directly and systematically. Students can pronounce correctly.

DISADVANTAGES: It overemphasizes and distorts the similarities between naturalistic first language learning and classroom foreign language learning and it fails to consider the practical realities of the classroom.

It requires teachers who are native speakers or who are fluency in the foreign language. It is largely dependent on the teachers’ skill, rather than on a textbook and not all teachers are proficient enough in the foreign language to adhere to the principles of the method.

Sometimes a simple brief explanation in the students’ native tongue would have been a more efficient route to comprehension.

TEACHER´S ROLE: The teacher usually directs the interactions but he/she is not as dominant as in Grammar Translation Method. Sometimes acts like a partner of the students. The teacher asks questions, correct mistakes, lets students speak more than him/her. Use lesson plan instead of a book, speak naturally, etc.

STUDENT´S ROLE: Students are active participants. Sometimes pair of works take place. Even the teacher takes roles in activities. Students imitate the correct pronunciation. They try to express in the foreign language and interact with the teacher and classmates in the foreign language.

Therefore students learn to think and speak in their target language. The Direct method is highly motivating to students.


Pictures, realia, examples, sample sentences are used to teach vocabulary. Use of L1 is not allowed. There is a direct relation between form and meaning. Grammar is taught inductively. Examples and drills are given and students are expected to discover and acquire the rules.

Introduction of new word, sentence or concept:

• SHOW…Visual aid or gestures, to ensure student understands new word.

• SAY…Teacher verbally introduces element.

• TRY…Student makes various attempts to pronounce new element.

• MOLD…Teacher corrects student if necessary, pointing to mouth to show proper shaping of lips, tongue and relationship to teeth.

• REPEAT…Student repeats element 5-20 times.

Progress, from new word to new word (within same lesson) and progress, from lesson to lesson (LESSON REVIEW…first few minutes of each lesson are to review lesson immediately completed and GLOBAL REVIEW…transition from lesson review to a comprehensive review. Here some examples of activities: Reading Aloud, Question and Answer Exercise, Getting Students to Self-Correct, Map Drawing,

L1 USAGE: The use of the mother tongue is not permitted.

L2 USAGE: Teacher and students only use the foreign language in class.

LISTENING, SPEAKING, READING, and WRITING: oral communication is seen as basic. Speaking, listening, reading and writing are important skills. Especially speaking and listening are emphasized. Vocabulary is over grammar. Speaking is the most important skill. Reading and writing are not introduced until listening and speaking are fluent skills.

EVALUATION: The ability to use the language is tested. Not about language, the language itself. In the Direct Method, students are asked to use the language, not to demonstrate their knowledge about the language. They are asked to do so using both oral and written skills. For example, the students might be interviewed orally by the teacher or might be asked to write a paragraph about something they have studied.

PERSONAL OPINION: Even though the Direct Method is not a functional or notional way of teaching it is quite a good method to teach general English. But if the teacher is not native or proficiency in the foreign language he should certainly go to the class with a lesson plan to carry out the activities and to be successful with the Direct Method.


BACKGROUND: The Audio-lingual method was widely used in the United States and other countries in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Audio-lingual Method was developed in the U.S.A. during the Second World War. At that time, the U.S. government found a great necessity to set up a special language-training program to supply the war with language personnel. The audio-lingual method, Army Method, or New Key is a style of teaching used in teaching foreign languages. It is based on behaviorist theory, which professes that certain traits of living things, and in this case humans, could be trained through a system of reinforcement-correct use of a trait would receive positive feedback while incorrect use of that trait would receive negative feedback.

This approach to language learning was similar to another, earlier method called the direct method. Like the direct method, the audio-lingual method advised that students be taught a language directly, without using the students’ native language to explain new words or grammar in the target language. However, unlike the direct method, the audio-lingual method didn’t focus on teaching vocabulary. Rather, the teacher drilled students in the use of grammar.

ADVANTAGES: The audio-lingual theory is probably the first language teaching theory that openly claims to be derived from linguistics and psychology. Making language teaching possible to large groups of learners. It aims at developing listening and speaking skills which is a step away from the Grammar translation method. The use of visual aids has proven its effectiveness in vocabulary teaching.

DISADVANTAGES: The method is based on false assumptions about language. The study of language doesn’t amount to studying the “parole”, the observable data. Mastering a language relies on acquiring the rules underlying language performance. That is, the linguistic, sociolinguistic, and discourse competences.

The behaviorist approach to learning is now discredited. Many scholars have proven its weakness. –Noam Chomsky (1959) “A Review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior”–has written a strong criticism of the principles of the theory.

Not developing language competence, lack of effectiveness, and boredom caused by endless pattern drills are great disadvantages too. Learners have little control over their learning. Teacher has the domination of the class.

TEACHER ROLE: Teacher is like an orchestra leader. She/he directs and controls the language behavior of the students. Teacher is a good model of the target language, especially for pronunciation and other oral skills. The teacher models the target language, controls the direction and pace of learning, and monitors and corrects the learners´ performance. The teacher controls the learners and prevents them from doing anything that conflict with the theory. The teacher is expected to specify the language that learners are going to use.

STUDENT ROLE: Students are imitators of the teacher as perfect model of the target language or the native speakers in the audio recordings. Learners are expected to interact with the language system, embodied in machines or controlled materials.

METHODOLOGY: Explicit rules are not provided. Students induce the rules through examples and drills. Students acquire grammar by being exposed to patterns through mechanical drills.

Drills and pattern practice are typical of the Audio-lingual method. These include:

-Repetition: where the student repeats an utterance as soon as he hears it.

-Inflection: Where one word in a sentence appears in another form when repeated.

-Replacement: Where one word is replaced by another.

-Restatement: The student re-phrases an utterance.

Meaning is taught directly. L1 is prohibited because it may cause bad habit formations. Vocabulary is introduced through dialogues.

The techniques used are: dialogue memorization, minimal pairs: (for teaching pronunciation), complete the dialogue, grammar games, and mechanical drills.

L1 USAGE: L1 is not allowed in the classroom. It may cause interference and bad habit formation in L2.

L2 USAGE: The teacher and the students only use the foreign language.

LISTENING, SPEAKING, READING AND WRITING: Students can learn target language in natural order: listening-speaking-reading-writing.

It lays emphasis on listening and speaking. The teacher is a model of L2 and students mimic him/her, so the listening skill is very important for this method. L2 is learned through repetition.

EVALUATION: Students are evaluated at different stages and on different points of the language. Each question is supposed to focus on only one point on the language at time. Discrete-point tests are used.

PERSONAL OPINION: there are many useful things we can learn from the Audio-lingual Method. If language learning were organized according to its structure, language learning would be easier, especially to adult learners. The Audio-lingual Method considers language ability made up of four skills and these skills can be taught separately. Since the natural order of skill acquisition is listening, speaking, reading, and writing, the Method gives the primary stress to the first two of the four skills. Speech is more basic to language than the written form, and listening and speaking are the basic form of verbal communication. In the classroom, the language skills are taught in the order of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Using pattern drills is the center of practice in Audiolingual Method. It can help students not only gain control over grammatical structures, but also develop their oral ability. The Audio-lingual method also provides language teachers with many useful techniques. The simple drilling techniques provide varied, graded and intensive practice of specific features of the language. The simple and direct approach is especially appropriate for young students and less gifted ones. Moreover, teaching technique with tape recordings and language lab drills offer practice in speaking and listening, which are considered of primary importance in language learning.

In sum, we could adapt some kinds of techniques used by the Audio-lingual Method, such as dialogues and pattern drills to our students and their needs, and taking into account important factors such as sociolinguistic and discourse competences, the context of the students dialogue, and other communicative facts which are essentials when learners are studying a foreign language.


BACKGROUND: Cognitive Psychology is the basis. The Silent Way is the name of a method of language teaching devised by Caleb Gattegno in the early 1970,s. Not only in the past but also today, people have learned languages by means of habit formation, memorization and translation. However, cognitive psychologists and transformational generative linguists claimed that languages cannot be learned through mimicry since people can create utterances they have never heard before. Therefore people can learn languages by using their own thinking processes to discover the rules of the language they are learning.

Gattegno stated his reasons for the emergence of his method as follows:

As I developed my techniques while subordinating my teaching to the learning, I found that I could very early transfer the responsibility for the use of the language to my students, so that I become able to teach using fewer and fewer words. It is this aspect of my techniques of teaching that prompted me to call the approach ‘The Silent Way of Teaching Foreign Languages’ (Oller and Amato 1983:73).

He gives too much value to the word ‘silent’ since he thinks that there are means of letting the learners learn while the teacher stops interfering.

ADVANTAGES: This method fosters cooperative learning between individuals.

It embodies a new approach to education in general, a respect for the individual and an awareness of the individual’s extraordinary cognitive powers.

If it is succeeded to teach the language the by using the rods without repeating too much, it will really save time and energy for both teachers students. The self-esteem of the students will be increased and this will enhance learning. By this way students will say ‘I learned instead of I was taught well.’ (Demircan1990).

DISADVANTAGES: It would seem necessary for a teacher to gain a good deal of training and skill in order to apply the Silent Way to the teaching of a total grammar in all its complexity.

This method can be benefited by the teacher only in small groups of students. The teacher can gain ability in this method by trying. The teacher is expected to enrich the materials on his/her own.

For some teachers the rigidity of the system (no repetitions by the teacher, no answers by the teacher etc.) may be meaningless.

For some learners, one limitation is the approach to language basics which begins with seemingly irrelevant discussions about rods and which involves silence and concentration and games with the teacher about meaning. Students’ expectations and need for immediately relevant language learning may force teachers to abandon the approach (Celce-Murcia 1979).

How such a method would in the average classroom situation or how successfully it might be used at more advanced levels is a question mark left in our minds.

Language is separated from its social context and taught through artificial situations usually by rods.

TEACHER ROLE: The teacher should be silent as much as possible in the classroom to encourage the learner to produce as much language as possible.

The teacher is expected to create an environment that encourages student’s risk taking that facilitates learning.

The teacher should give only what help is necessary. In other words, the teacher makes use of what students already know. The more the teacher does for the students what they can do for themselves, the less they will do for themselves (Larsen-Freeman 1986).

STUDENT ROLE: The learner is expected to become ‘independent, autonomous, and responsible’ in language. Learners are expected to interact with each other and suggest alternatives to each other. They must learn to work cooperatively rather than competitively. The teacher’s silence encourages group cooperation.

In order not to miss what the teacher says, learners must give the teacher their attention. Learner-attention is a key to learning.

Learners will provide each other with correct models and encourage each other’s initiative. Thus, this method fosters interdependence and cooperation among learners at the same time it promotes independence from the teacher.

METHODOLOGY: A cardinal principle of the Silent Way is respect for the students’ capacity to work out language problems and recall information on their own with no verbalization and minimal help from the teacher. Vocabulary is taught by means of visual aids and word-charts. Vocabulary is always recycled by means of word-charts. There is a focus on the structures of the language although explicit grammar rules are never given. Some techniques used are:

Teaching pronunciation with “sound colour charts”

Cognitive coding with colour rods.

Peer correction to improve co-operative manner.

Self correction gestures

Teacher’s Silence

Structured feedback: students are invited to talk about the day’s instruction (what they have learnt that day during classes). Students learn to take responsibility for their own learning by becoming aware of themselves, and by controlling and applying their own learning strategies.

Fidel Charts: Used to teach sound spelling association.

Word Charts: Used to teach and recycle vocabulary. The words are written in different colours so that students can learn basic pronunciation patterns.

L1 USAGE: native language can be used to give instructions when necessary. Also native language can be used during the feedback sessions (at least for beginner levels). If the native language is not very essential then it is avoided. During feedback sessions L1 be used at beginning levels. L1 can be exploited. For example, similar sounds in L1 and L2 can be used to make students aware of phonological similarities.

L2 USAGE: The use of the target language is essential for this method. L1 can be used to give instructions when necessary. Meaning is made clear by focusing the student’s perceptions, not by translation.

LISTENING, SPEAKING, READING AND WRITING: Pronunciation is emphasized at the very beginning. It is important that students acquire the melody of the language. All four skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) are worked on from the beginning.

EVALUATION: although the teacher does not have to give a formal test, she/he assesses student learning all the time. One criterion of whether or not students have learned is their ability to transfer what they have been studying to new contexts. The teacher may never give a formal test. He/she assesses students’ learning all the time. Continuous monitoring by the teacher is essential.

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PERSONAL OPINION: Depending on my own teaching and learning experience, too much repetition does not help students. If the students are familiar with their teachers’ technique, they know that the teacher will repeat the subject-matter once again. Thus, they do not pay enough attention to their teachers’ talk. On the other hand, if the students know that their teacher will not repeat anymore, they will listen to him/her carefully.

Another principle that I agree with is less teacher interference. If the teacher helps only when it is asked, then, that help will be more valuable. Sometimes teachers like me tend to give extra information when students ask something and of course this tires us too much.

Therefore students do not make any effort to take the responsibility of their learning.

Advocates of the Silent Way feel that more important than the techniques and more important even than the language learning results, is the process, the change that occurs in individuals. This includes understanding and tolerance of another and acceptance of others as contributors to one’s own life.


BACKGROUND: Total Physical Response (TPR) is a method developed by Dr. James J. Asher, a professor emeritus of psychology at San José State University, to aid learning second languages. The method became popular in the 1970s and attracted the attention or allegiance of some teachers, but it has not received generalized support from mainstream educators.

Language is primarily oral. It is just like the acquisition of native language. Learners first listen (silent period), then oral production starts. Oral communication is crucial. Skillful use of imperatives by the instructor can be helpful for the acquisition of many vocabulary items and grammatical structures. Asher views the verb and particularly the verb in the imperative as the central linguistic motif around which language use and learning are organized.

ADVANTAGES: It is fun and easy so students will enjoy the lessons. It does not require a great deal of preparation on the part of the teacher. It is a good tool for learning vocabulary. Class size does not need to be a problem. There is no age barrier.

DISADVANTAGES: TPR is reduced to the imperative form. TPR is more useful at beginners. It is not a very creative method. Students are not given the opportunity to express their own views and thoughts in a creative way. It is limited, since everything cannot be explained with this method. It must be combined with other approaches.

TEACHER ROLE: the teacher has an active role in this method. He decides what to teach, which materials to use and how they are to be presented. It is important to underline that the teacher´s role is not simply to teach. His task is offering opportunities for learning. The cognitive map of the target language that each student creates in their mind is going to depend on the way the teacher presents the materials. Teachers should take parents as their model. At the beginning, there will be wide tolerance towards the mistakes students make. If the teacher is constantly interrupting and correcting, students will not be encouraged to talk. They will be inhibited. At first, teachers do not correct children when they begin to speak.

STUDENT ROLE: learners have the roles of listeners and performers. First, they must listen to what the teacher says. Then, they are expected to respond physically to those commands given by the teacher.

METHODOLOGY: The key for successful language learning is the reduction of stress, such as the first language acquisition (stress-free environment). Listen attentively and respond physically to commands given by the teacher. They are encouraged to speak when they feel ready to speak. Performing physical actions in the target language as a mean of making input comprehensive and minimizing stress grammar is studied in an inductive way. Vocabulary and grammar are introduced through imperatives.

Some of the techniques used are: Commands ( sit down, skip, close your eyes…), Role reversal: Students command their teacher and classmates to perform actions, Action sequence: The teacher may give three connected commands (e.g. “Point to the door, walk to the door, and touch the door”).

L1 USAGE: The method is introduced in the students’ L1. After the introduction, rarely would the mother tongue be used. Meaning is made through body movements.

L2 USAGE: Teacher speaks only in the foreign language, while the students use it only when they are ready.


1. Listening (Very important during the silent period).

2. Speaking (teacher should not force students to produce the language especially during the silent period they are expected to produce the target language voluntarily)

3. Reading

4. Writing

EVALUATION: Teachers will know immediately whether or not students understand by observing heir students’ actions. Formal evaluations can be conducted simply by commanding individual students to perform a series of actions. As students become more advanced, their performance can become the basis for evaluation.

PERSONAL OPINION: This is a very useful method to use with all students (children, young and adult students), but only in the first stages of the foreign language learning. I completely agree with learn the foreign language in a non- stress environment, because this is a key factor of the learning. Students learn better in a relaxing atmosphere, like children learn their mother tongue. The kind of activities that the teacher can use is wide and don’t require any language answer of the students until they are ready to do that. But teacher has to bear in mind that this method is not enough when students are in a higher level. In that case, students need more communicative activities.


BACKGROUND: Suggestopedia is a teaching method developed by the Bulgarian psychotherapist Georgi Lozanov. It is used in different fields, but mostly in the field of foreign language learning. Lozanov has claimed that by using this method a teacher’s students can learn a language approximately three to five times as quickly as through conventional teaching methods.

The theory applied positive suggestion in teaching when it was developed in the 1970s. However, as the method improved, it has focused more on “desuggestive learning” and now is often called “desuggestopedia”. Suggestopedia is a mixing of the words “suggestion” and “pedagogy”.

ADVANTAGES: Increase oral proficiency and lower classroom anxiety. The use of music, relaxing, pleasing and stimulating environmental set-up, motivated and powerful service people (teachers) giving positive messages with their attractive appearance and never-ending energy so it has the potential to increase motivation, among the learners, to try and use the “product”, which is English here

DISADVANTAGES: The first weakness of this method is that the techniques may not work well in all the learners and cultures. It is not a practical method as teachers face the problem of the availability of music and comfortable chairs

Lozanov refers in a number of occasions to the importance of memorization, excluding any reference to comprehension and creative problem solving. In fact language is not only about the power of the mind to memorize. It’s about understanding, interacting and producing novel utterances in different unpredictable situations.

TEACHER ROLE: Teacher is the authority. Learners learn better if they get the information from a reliable authority. Students must trust and respect that authority.

STUDENT ROLE: Students play a child’s role (infantilization). They adopt a new identity (new name, job, family, etc.). As they feel more secure, they can be less inhibited.

METHODOLOGY: Vocabulary is emphasised. Claims about the success of the method often focus on the large number of words that can be acquired. Grammar is taught explicitly but minimally. Explicit grammar rules are provided in L1. Dialogues are used with their translations in L1 on the opposite side. Texts with literary value are used. The textbook posters are used for peripheral learning. Some of the techniques used are:

Classroom set up: dim lights, soft music, cushioned armchairs, and posters on the walls.

Positive Suggestion:

Direct Suggestion: The teacher tells students they are going to be successful to create self-confidence.

Indirect Suggestion: This is provided by music and comfortable physical conditions of the classroom.

Peripheral Learning: Posters, lists, charts, texts, paintings, and graphs are hung on the walls of the classroom. Students learn from these although their attentions are not directly on these materials.

Visualization: Students are asked to close their eyes and concentrate on their breathing. Then the tea


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