My teaching approach
There are several different approaches to teaching
a foreign language, I will discuss and compare five different approaches - The
Communicative Approach, Berlitz Method, Grammar Translation Method (GTM), The
Silent Way and Total Physical Response (TPR). I will look at how each approach
works and discuss the positive and negative points of the different methods. I
will look at how the students and teacher respond to each approach, and I will
give my own opinion on whether I think the approach works or not.
Communicative Approach is used in a real context
with authentic material, such as a newspaper article to engage the student and require
Teachers using the Communicative Approach will
find themselves talking less and listening more; becoming helpers of their
students' learning. The teacher sets up the exercise, but because the students'
performance is the goal, the teacher must step back and observe, allowing
errors to be tolerated or solved by the students themselves. The students do
most of the speaking, and frequently the classroom during a communicative
exercise is dynamic, with the students interacting and having conversations
with each other. This allows the students’ to learn from each other, offering
support when it is needed.
Because of the increased responsibility to
participate, students may find they gain confidence in using the target
language in general. Students are more responsible of their own learning and
they can practice this in real life situations.
One rule of the Communicative Approach is
that meaning is given priority over form. Allowing the student to focus on
communicating before learning grammar and vocabulary helps them get their
pronunciation and fluency correct, before moving into sentence structure. The communicative
approach’s idea is that grammar skills and vocabulary are not enough to enable
students to operate efficiently in the target language, they believe that to be
able to use the language correctly it must relate back to the communication
that we see in real life.
Method or otherwise known as The Direct Method puts
its main focus on vocabulary over grammar.
The objective of the Direct Method is the
aim of understanding, speaking, reading, and writing, with emphasis on speaking
from the very beginning. The primary objective of the method is communication
linking with audio understanding; its secondary objectives are reading and
writing. This method believes that an active (speaking) knowledge is considered
more difficult to attain than a passive (reading) knowledge. So the attention
of the method is focused on speaking from the very start.
The Direct Method is all about repetition
of the vocabulary so that it sticks in your mind. The teacher does all the
demonstrating with only common vocabulary and sentences taught. Communication
skills are built up in a sequence organized around question and answer
exchanges between the teacher and students.
I think that this method works well in the
beginning – as learning vocabulary is important, but it doesn't link it back to
forming full sentences and looking at the structure of each sentence until
later in the process. There is not a lot of interaction with the other students
in the class, it is very focused on teacher-student interaction and it moves at
a very fast pace.
Total Physical Response (TPR) is a language
teaching method built around the coordination of speech and action, it attempts
to teach a foreign language through physical activity.
approach works in the way that the students follow the actions of the teacher
and this will give memory association to each word or sentence, then the
student is more likely to recall the word or sentence if they remember the
action that is linked to it. The goal of this approach is for the student to
enjoy the experience. It is a method that involves game-like movements and is a
less stressful way to encourage understanding of the language and creates a
positive mood for the student.
sounds like this approach would more suit children of a younger age but it can
also be very effective with adults, where they can learn to respond to physical
responses before they begin to produce verbal responses.
The Grammar Translation
Method (GTM) is another approach to teaching. It is
the most traditional method involving
little or no spoken communication or listening comprehension.
There is a focus on learning the rules of
grammar and their application in translation from one language into another.
This approach is more of a structural method; the primary skills learnt are
reading and writing.
This can frustrate the student learning a
language in this way because they find it hard to see an improvement in their
learning and they don't learn the full meaning of sentences, whereas if a more
communicative approach was taken then they could practice putting the grammar
into context, using the correct pronunciation and have a lot more fun.
The teacher is the authority in this method
with most vocabulary taught in the form of lists or isolated forms. This gives
the student the wrong idea of what language is and of the relationship between
the words rather than putting them into full sentences that makes sense to the
The GTM is the easiest for a teacher to
employ. It doesn't require a teacher to speak English well or to prepare a good
lesson. Little or no attention is given to pronunciation; its focus is on
accuracy and not fluency.
The Silent Way is another teaching
approach, it is based
on the principle that the teacher should be silent as much as possible in the
classroom and the learner should be encouraged to produce as much language as
The teachers attitude is a key factor in this
method, they must help the students get insight into the functioning of the
language whilst saying very little. The student is left to work as an independent learner, rather
than receiving encouragement or criticism from the teacher.
The teacher uses certain materials to encourage
the student to learn – a pointer is a key material, this aids in the
development of proper pronunciation of words in the target language by tapping
on the syllables that need to be stressed.
Certain methods such as the Communicative
approach and the Total Physical Response Method both use a task based focus in
their methodology, it is a highly practical approach that reflects how the
language is really used in everyday life.
Unlike the Silent
Way method of language teaching, which relies on repetition and drills, the
Communicative Approach can leave students in suspense as to the outcome of a
class exercise, which will vary according to their reactions and responses. The
students' motivation to learn comes from their desire to communicate about
The role of the teacher in the Communicative
approach is to facilitate rather than dominate and the students are active
participants rather than passive learners as in, say, the grammar translation
method or the silent way method.
The Direct Method and the Communicative Approach
are similar in that they both aim at teaching language for communication. They
both have their own way to achieve this goal.
While the Direct Method tries to establish a direct link between the
target language and meaning by immersing the students in the structural and
vocabulary aspects, the Communicative Approach stands out with its emphasis not
only on linguistic forms and meaning but also on functions.
Grammar Translation Method believes that literary language is superior to the
spoken language, that there is no need for students to master the four skills
of English (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). Instead it focuses on
two of the skills – reading and writing.
The Communicative Approach and the Direct
Method are more of an interactive method with the focus on the speaking and
listening skills, whereas the Grammar Translation Method is more of a
The Grammar Translation Method and the Total Physical
Response Method have both similarities and differences. The students in the TPR method
follow instructions from the teacher through action-based drills so the teacher
has a very authoritative form in this method, like the Grammar Translation
Method where the student follows as the teacher says.
However the GTM operates from a grammar-based or structural view of the core
elements of language, whereas TPR requires initial attention to meaning rather
than to the form of items linking it to the Communicative approach.
are several different approaches to teaching a language and each aspect of the
approaches can have a positive or negative response from the student.
Each student has their own learning style, some students may
be a more visual learner, another may react better to an audio approach and
other students may learn in a kinesthetic way. So a teaching
approach that may work for one student, may not work for another; the approach
needs to be adapted to suit the student’s needs.
Written by Rosanna Shand