My teaching approach
I will compare 4 methods to teach English since 18th
century until now.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
audio-lingual method was developed in an attempt to address some of the
perceived weaknesses of the direct method.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
1. Relax surrounding and it´s like if you study with
your unconsciousness and you feel free to capture the target language at your
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
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.
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.