Stephanie Desnos





My teaching approach

I will compare 4 methods to teach English since 18th century until now.

Grammar translation method

This method was also called the traditional method of teaching Greek and Latin, it was the classical way to study, translate and memorize numerous grammatical rules and exceptions as well as enormous vocabulary lists. But with this method, the goal was to be able to read and translate literary masterpieces and classics in Latin and Greek.

In Europe, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the education system was formed around a concept called faculty psychology, this was based on the separation of the body and the mind. The mind consisted in three parts: the will, the emotion and intellect, this last one was believed to be sharpened enough to control the will and emotions.

The classes were given in the native language and based on translation of texts from Latin to French, French to Latin, same for Greek, this for example in Belgium and France. This was always from native language to target language and vice-versa. No explanations of grammar and the way to do the sentences were applied and no attention was really placed on pronunciation or communicative aspect of the language.  

With this method, the students were considered well mentally prepared for the studies and in the 19th century, modern languages and literature began to appear in schools. It was believed that the study of modern language was not necessary and left out the curriculum and as result, a lot of text books were copied for the modern language classroom. In USA, this method was used in the most high schools and college foreign language classrooms and after was sometimes replaced by the audio-lingual method that I will explain in my work.

Advantages

Two main advantages for this method:

1.    The pure translation was a way to study and understand quickly words, phrases, expressions, meanings of lexical items, synonyms without explanation through definitions and illustrations.

2.    Both teacher and students can speak in the native language and this method does not cause comprehension problems. Even a person not good enough in English is able to teach English through this method and that’s probably why this method has survived so long. 

Disadvantages

1.    It was based only on writing and translation of texts, no conversations, no use of this language with some others as Latin and Greek are known as dead languages.

2.    No real contact between teachers and students, as no conversations in the class were possible, no structured grammar taught. It was strictly follow the textbook and correct it in the class with the teacher.

3.    To learn a language you need listening, speaking, reading and writing methodology. It was not the case.

4.    The exact translation was not possible as a language is the result of various customs, traditions and modes of behavior of the speech community.

5.    This method didn’t give the possibility of thinking in the second language as it was only translations and translations. We know now that the best way to learn a language is when you can start thinking in this language. And with this method it was not possible.

The direct method

Also known as natural method was established in Germany and France around 1900. It was based on teaching vocabulary through pantomiming, really active method with real objects, demonstrations, pictures and visual materials. They taught grammar by using inductive approach and the teacher focused on question- answer system. The teacher used the target language during the class. The correct pronunciation and grammar are emphasized and the students talked at least 80% of the lesson.

The direct method was an answer to the dissatisfaction with the older grammar translation method and at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, Sauveur and Franke proposed that language teaching should be undertaken within the target-language system, which was the first stimulus for the rise of the direct method.

The audio-lingual method was developed in an attempt to address some of the perceived weaknesses of the direct method.

Advantages

1.    Both teacher and students spoke in the target language. The teacher used pictures, real-life objects and demonstrations to teach and was really active during the class. No use of grammar books or writing texts to teach the class. Grammar is taught inductively during the class.

2.    Oral communication skills are built up in a graded progression organized around question-answer exchanges between the teacher and students in small and intensive classes.

3.    Correct pronunciation and grammar are emphasized.

4.    It was totally different of the previous grammar translation method as there were no translation and spoke in the target language

 

Disadvantages

1.    Only oral teaching, no writing teaching.

2.    The teacher can be very tired after two hours of this kind of method (playing, acting, etc.)

3.    This method can be only used with small group and is limited in the time.

Audio lingual method

This method was quite to another, earlier method called the direct method. Like the direct method, the audio-lingual method used the target language 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 and drill the students in the use of grammar too.

With the help of the language lab, the teacher would present a correct model of the target language like a sentence and the students would have to repeat it. The teacher would then continue by presenting new words for the students to sample in the same structure. In this method, there is no explicit grammar instruction, everything is simply memorized in form. The idea is for the students to practice the particular construct until they can use it spontaneously. In this manner, the lessons are built on drills in which the students have little or no control on their own output. The teacher is expecting a particular response and not providing that will result in a student receiving negative feedback. This type of activity, for the foundation of language learning, is in direct opposition with communicative language teaching.

There is a main historical circumstance for the use of audio lingual method. It was the outbreak of World War II, which created the need to post large number of American servicemen all over the world. It was therefore necessary to provide these soldiers with at least basic verbal communication skills. Unsurprisingly, the new method relied on the prevailing scientific methods of the time, observation and repetition, which were also admirably suited to teaching en masse. Because of the influence of the military, early versions of the audio-lingual method came to be known as the “army method.” Despite being discredited as an effective teaching methodology in the 70s this method continues to be used today, although it is typically not used as the foundation of a course, but rather, has been relegated to use in individual lessons. As this type of lesson is very teacher centered, it is a popular methodology for both teachers and students, perhaps for several reasons but in particular, because the input and output is restricted and both parties know what to expect. For example, it´s still used in France and Belgium nowadays. But always a few hours in language labs and in addition to target language classes.

Advantages

1.    It´s quick to learn basic sentences that you can use if you do a short travel like easy expressions (“where is my hotel?”, “how much is it?”, “where is the station”, “thank you very much”, “you´re welcome”, etc…)

2.    It´s based on repeating sentences correctly and the target language is used in the classroom.

3.    No explanations of grammar or words are given and the goal is the correct pronunciation and the knowledge of the sentence or expressions.

Disadvantages

1.    The students repeat and repeat again and again the sentences until they know it by heart but no explanations are given for both grammar and words in the context.

2.    The students don´t write and so it´s only an oral method. They can´t really speak the language and it can be for me a beginning but you need also grammar and words explanations.

3.    It´s not a productive method because you will be sooner or later limited by the method.

4.    No communication between the teacher and the students.

Suggestopedia

This method is from the 70s and was developed by a Bulgarian psychotherapist, Pr. Lozanov. It said that with his method, students can learn a target language approximately three to five times as quick as through conventional teaching methods. It´s also well-known as pseudo-science as it´s based on the trust the students develop towards the method by simply believing that it works. In 1978, just as UNESCO began investigating the use of Suggestopedia, Lozanov was placed under house arrest for 10 years by the Bulgarian Communist authorities. During this time, researchers developed Suggestopedia along their own lines. After the fall of communism in 1989 Lozanov was released and moved to Austria. As a result of this period of isolation, confusion developed as to the nature of Suggestopedia. It is commonly believed that Suggestopedia is a methodology that works with relaxation, music and baroque music. However this was not the intention. The intended purpose of Suggestopedia was to enhance learning by lowering the affective filter of learners. Lozanov claimed that his method is a system for liberation of the body, the mind and the spirit, without pressure, liberation of previously suggested programs to restrict intelligence and spontaneous acquisition of knowledge, skills and habits. Physical surroundings and atmosphere in classroom are the vital factors to make sure that the students feel comfortable and confident and various techniques, including art and music, are used by the trained teachers.

Advantages

1.    Relax surrounding and it´s like if you study with your unconsciousness and you feel free to capture the target language at your rhythm.

2.    It´s a group of people together, they feel happy, enjoy to be there and it´s a 70´s meeting of flower power people.

3.    I think a lot of people believe in this kind of method, as some methods are others methods derived from this one, like for the children, etc…

Disadvantages

1.    It strongly depends on the trust that students develop towards the method by simply believing that it works.

2.    The students only receive input by listening, reading and musical-emotional backing, while other important factors of language acquisition are being neglected.

Well, I hope you enjoyed to read my work. I was really happy to do it, I know more things about the different methods to teach but for me the best method still Oxbridge! Many thanks. Stéphanie.

 



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