My teaching approach
Over time plethora of teaching methods have been examined and
used to help people acquire second language acquisition. This essay will mull over
and discuss the following styles: Grammar Translation, Audio-lingual, Silent Teaching
Method and Suggestopedia. The idea is to concentrate upon comparing and contrasting
these forms of teaching practices and the relevant out comes or success rate in
relation to language acquisition and creating a communicative lesson.
One of the oldest and most traditional forms of language acquisition
is known as the Grammar Translation or traditional method. The Grammar Translation
method was conducted in the native language and required the student to learn vast
amount of bi-lingual vocabulary lists. The textbook provided the context the grammar
was applied in and if students were confused this was later clarified by the instructor.
This meant that the students practiced by translating text from the target language
into the native language, to test the students understanding classical texts of
the native language were then translated into the target language.
The Grammar Translation method allowed the learner to grasp grammar
rules fairly quickly as they were able to deduct grammatical structures of the target
language in relation to their native language. Thus providing structures and foundations
for the learner.
As this form of teaching is conducted in the mother tongue it
did not cause any teacher and student communication
barrier and allowed the teacher to assess if the student had learned what s/he had
been taught very quickly.
Nevertheless, it also contains significant disadvantages, the
emphasis on the translation meant that the students had no idea how to pronounce
or verbally communicate in the target language. The lack of creativity hindered students ability
to express or manipulate the target language. Therefore,
this method did not establish or provide an effective communicative lesson because
the emphasis was solely based upon written comprehension or more to the point translation.
In contrast to the Grammar Translation method, during the world
war period a quick and effective method was required for learning language. This
give birth to the audio-lingual approach, the concept drew from the ideas of two
different people and areas. The first influence was from the American linguist Leonard
Bloomfield and the other a leading behavioural psychologist B.F. Skinner. The audio-linguist
believed that individuals can learn a language by listening to words or grammar
phrases directly in the target language. Behavioural psychologists using Skinner
s principle believed that if the audio learning was then reinforced by repetition
and positive or negative rewards the person will learn quickly how to speak and
understand the language (Richards, J.C. et al 1986)
The audio-lingual practice comprised of oral drills this meant
a teacher would say a phrase or a command in the target language and the student
would repeat it in the first instance, then the student would replace what the teacher
had stated by shortening the sentence i.e. Teacher
tell me not to smoke so often Student
don t smoke so often . This enabled people to grasp basic verbal skills
quickly and to think in the target language.
Noam Chomsky in the 1950 s was the first person to criticise
the audio-lingual approach by illustrating the limitations of the structural linguistics
Nevertheless, this approach emphasised upon pronunciation, thinking
in the target language and manipulation of basic sentences.
The audio-lingual approach was a stark contrast to the Grammar
Translation, even though both had teachers
leading the lessons the audio-lingual emphasised communication. This allowed students
to imitate and understand how the language should sound, enabling them to communicate
with the natives of the target language. It was the first real method that created
an oral communicative lesson emphasising pronunciation.
However, later research suggested that the traditional method
was far more productive than the audio-lingual practice for language acquisition
as it provided a greater foundation of grammatical structures (Wilga Rivers 1964)
On the other hand, other
teaching methods developed over time, these were known as Suggestopedia and the
memorising vast vocabulary (Lozanov 1979), Lozanov believed what limited people
s abilities to learn a language was their own preconceptions and expectations. To
overcome these obstacles sequences of events needed to take place. This included
relaxing students through role play or interactive
tasks, the context involved mapping out situation and features of the focus text,
peripheral text this meant meaningful interaction with translations to hand if needed,
active concert this incorporated reflective reinforcement with active cognition
and lastly passive concert this was repeating material in the meditative mode to
reinforce the subconscious memory.
Suggestopedia allowed the student and teacher to have a greater
communicative relationship in comparison to the traditional and audio-learning approaches.
This method focuses on both the grammar and pronunciation aspects of language learning
and has better ways of creating a communicative lesson, than the last two approaches.
Even though it is a teacher centred technique it permits the students to vocalise
their thoughts or issues in a friendly atmosphere to clear any misconceptions or
However, Silent Method is a more student centred proactive style.
Silent method is about facilitating active student learning, this is viewed as a
discovery and a problem solving method (Brown 1994). There is minimal teacher interaction,
the strategy tries to balance written and spoken accuracy by coloured Cuisinere
rods. The coloured Cuisinere rods or charts represent and indicate contextual clues
for pronunciation or spelling. Students are required to decipher the clues to help
them pronounce and spell the words. Nevertheless, if the students are significantly
struggling the teacher will intervene to help them ascertain and understand the
In some respects the Silent Method is very similar to the Grammar
Translation and Audio-lingual techniques
the minimal interaction does not create a communicative lesson. Yet, the interactive
participation of the students creates an atmosphere whereby, the students feel comfortable
to communicate in the target language whilst comprehending not only the speaking
part of the language but the grammar structure of the target language too.
This essay has compared and contrasted four techniques for language
acquisition, only one style demonstrates a two way communicative lesson that is
the Suggestopedia method. However, the essay suggests that no matter what technique
is used trying to create an equal balance of student and teacher relationship can
not be created. Therefore, juxtaposing all the styles would be the best idea to
produce an effective communicative lesson whether it is teacher lead or student
lead. As potential teachers what needs to recognised and understood is that, different
teaching methods have their positive and negative strengths and weaknesses no one
style can be applied to every student. Also, no one teaching method can create a
hundred percent effective communicative lesson for the teacher or student.