My teaching approach
James Daniel Johnstone
November 13 2011
Foriegn Language Teaching
many different methods for teaching foriegn languages. Some of these methods focus on particular
aspects of language such as written language.
Some methods might be considered by many to be outdated or simply
inadequate while other methods might be chosen due to other factors such as the
style preference of the teacher or student.
This paper will discuss 9 different methods; analyzing the goals of the
students, the approach to teaching and learning, the teacher's attitude and
behavior, the general syllabus of the courses and a little but of personal
method to be discussed is called the Grammar Translation Method (GTM). GTM is derived from the classical method of
teaching Greek and Latin. GTM is taught
in the native language (L1) and requires the students to translate texts. GTM only focuses on reading and writing and
not at all on speaking or listening. The
syllabus will likely follow a textbook
which focuses on grammar and vocabulary.
some advantages of the GTM. One
advantage is that time is not wasted on explaining the target language (TL)
because the class is taught in the L1.
Another advantage is the teacher's labor is reduced. Even teachers that are not fluent in the TL
can utilize this method. How do the
advantages compare to the disadvantages of this method?
disadvantages of the GTM are numerous.
The natural process of learning a language is listening, speaking,
reading and writing and the GTM only focuses on half of that process. Speech is completely neglected in the GTM so
the students don't learn how to speak or listen in the TL. In fact the students probably wouldn't even
be able to write a letter correctly because they don't practice communicating,
they only learn the rules of the TL which isn´t enough to learn how to
communicate. Furthermore, translations aren't always possible.
consider the GTM to be an outdated method.
Most schools stopped using the GTM in the 1960s but it might still have
some uses (teaching a dead language or translating texts accurately). The GTM has been replaced by methods that
include speaking and listening like the Direct Method.
Method (DM), also know as the Berlitz method, is quite different from the
GTM. All of the classes are taught in
the TL and absolutely refrains from using the L1. The DM will include some reading and writing
but not initially. The teacher
demonstrates the vocabulary of the TL by showing real objects or images. The grammar is taught inductively, meaning
that the learners adquire the rules of the TL through its function in a more
natural process. There is a strong focus
on question and answer forms. The
students interact with the teacher but more so with each other. The goal is to have the students talking 80%
of the time. Although a syllabus for the
class will include goals like present simple to be learned on day X and past
simple to be learned on day Y the class isn't presented in a manner that
directly tells the students what they are covering that day.
advantages over the GTM are numerous.
The students learn how to speak and listen in the TL. The DM has high input and high output
compared to the GTM being a high input only.
The result is that DM students can better communicate in the TL. GTM students might produce better translators
when dealing with written documents but the DM will produce much better oral
interpreters. The only real disadvantage
in the DM is the teacher needs to be more proficient in the TL and handling
large classes will be more difficult when compared to the GTM.
The DM was
created as a result to the dissatisfaction of the GTM. Although most people would almost certainly
agree that the DM is superior to the GTM some were not completely
satisfied. As a result the Audio-Lingual
Method was created to alleviate some of the short comings of the DM.
Audio-Lingual Method (ALM), also known as the Army Method, is based on
reinforcement. The students repeat
phrases after the teacher over and over again.
One word or group of words is substituted for a new word or group of
words and then the drilling repeats. The
classes are teacher centered. There is a
focus on pronunciation and the students are expected to use correct
grammar. The students do not communicate
with each other and they don't really learn grammatical rules.
this method is horrible (this is not just the opinion of the writer, linguists
such as Noam Chomsky debunk this method) but it can have a time and place to be
used. The US army used this method duing
WWII. This method is well suited to
teaching large masses of people and can be used to quickly teach important
the opposite of the Audio-Lingual Method is the Silent Way (SW). The SW, unlike the ALM, is student
centered. The students talk about 90% of
the time which allows for the teacher to carefully observe the students. When the teacher hears an error he
immediately corrects the student and some times refers back to a color coded
pronunciation chart if the error was phonetical. Pronunciation is taught first and then the
class follows a structural syllabus, introducing a new structure everyday while
practicing previous structures.
goal of the teacher is to start a discussion and direct the class but the
students do most of the talking and most corrections are done by oneself or
with the help of the classmates. Overall
the SW isn't too far removed from the DM.
They both are student centered, focus on the function of language, are
highly communitive, focus on listening, speaking, writing, and reading. The main differences between SW and DM is
that the teacher talks a little less in SW and it focuses a bit more on
pronunciation. These two distinctions
are almost completely absent in the next method, Suggestopedia.
is a teacher centered method. It doesn't
focus on pronunciation because the only time a student talks is when the whole
class repeats a phrase with the teacher.
Although there are some elements of the written language the focus is on
listening and watching the teacher. The
teacher reads a passage while acting out a scene. Then the teacher reads the passage again
while the class listens to soothing classical music. Later the students read
along or repeat after the teacher. The
whole purpose of this method is to provide an environment with a positive
attitude. Suggestopedia teachers believe
that if a pleasant atmosphere can be achieved then the students will be more
able to learn (removes affective filters).
has many critics. Some believe it is a
method based on pseudo-science. Other
problems include a lack of communication, low output from students, grammar
isn't clearly explained and there are is little to no concept checking. It is unlikely that a student would be able
to communicate in the TL and the positive attitude that the Suggestopedia
teachers try to achieve will be absent in real world situations.
Total Physical Response (TPR) is a teaching
method that adds physical activity to the learning process. Sometimes this will include acting out
actions or playing games like Simon Says.
Although this method might seem to be limited in some ways such as an
over focus on commands or an inability to express complex concepts it also has
plenty of advantages. TPR can be
extremely helpful for beginners, especially children. This method can help with kinesthetic
learners, dyslexic students and students with varying aptitude levels. The movements can help to explain new
vocabulary since the class is only taught in the TL. TPR encourages student cooperation and
communication. Reading and writing is
also still involved. Although this
system might particularly appeal to children, TPR techniques can be used for
all age groups.
Method (CM) is another drilling based method.
The teacher quickly fires off a question, repeats the question, and then
the student answers the question.
Corrections are made right away.
This continues for three hours.
is completely taught in the TL and appears to follow a structure syllabus. The students will affectively learn a lot of
vocabulary and grammar in a short period of time but possibly only to a certain
extent. The problem with the CM is that
there are no normal conversations. The
class isn't even taught with a normal rate of speech. This method like all other drilling methods
lacks imagination. A student could
correctly answer a question and not know the meaning of the question because there
are no concept checks. The classes are
intense and errors are immediately corrected which might act as an affective
filter for some students.
positive side to the CM is that the teacher doesn't have to understand the
grammar and doesn't have to spend much time on class preparation. The only requirement to be a teacher is to
have good pronunciation because the lessons are scripted. This method seems to be very business
Systems is a business that focuses on teaching English to native Spanish
speakers. Vaughan actually has several
different specific classes but what this paper will call The Vaughan Method
will refer to the short (often just 1-3 minutes) radio, television, and
Vaughan Method is a teacher centered method that utilizes both the native
language (L1) and the TL. L1 appears to
be used to save time that would otherwise be spent on defining the word in the
TL and to emphasize specific differences between the two languages. There is no output, interaction or concept
checking. The teacher simply gives a
quick short lesson. The short messeges
are quick and easy to process but obiously only so much can be taught in that
we have the Oxbridge System (OX). The OX
is a student centered method that focuses on how students learn. Due to the fact that the OX focuses on how
students learn there is some focus on preventing an affective filter via
seating arrangements, positive attitudes from the teachers, not interrupting
the student to correct a small error etc.. The traditional seating arrangement
is replaced with a circular seating arangement to encourage conversation,
cooperation, and lower anxiety. The
teacher and students speak only in the TL.
The teacher begins conversation using a topic that will naturally teach
vocabulary and structure via function.
The students are very communicative and do most of the talking which
allows them to practice concepts while allowing the teacher to better observe
the students. The teacher does more
reaction than action. The teacher's goal
is to keep the students talking, using the vocabulary and structures, make
concept checks and to keep the topic interesting. Several topics will be discussed in each
class to keep things interesting and to allow a shift in focus between
vocabulary and structure.
discussed nine different teaching methods.
They are not all equally effective but each one has something to
contribute. The Oxbridge System seems to
have the best balance of good qualities from each method.