Camilla Nymann Mikkelsen

My teaching approach

Camilla Nymann Mikkelsen                                                                                26-06-2012



TEFL Fundamentals

Teaching Methods



First I will outline some charactaristics of The Communicative language teaching approach.


Then I will compare and contrast The Grammar Translation Method, The Direct Method and The Audio-lingual Method to The Communicative approach.


And Finally I will discuss how The three methods can be used to create a communicative lesson.



The focus of The Communicative Approach is interaction and learning to communicate a message. Reading and writing is aquired naturally when the students have learned to speak the language. There is an emphasis on learning to communicate in real life situations and to be aware of the social context such as whether your talking to your boss in the office or to a friend. Authenthic topics are used and the use of authenthic language is important. Grammar is only taught in context and errors are tolerated as part of  the natural process of learning a language . This is the way children aquire a language.

The goal of the student is to be able to communicate naturally in authenthic social situations.


In Communicative Language Teaching the role of the teacher is very different from traditional teaching methods. The teacher is not an authoritative figure but a facilitator or mediator who allows the students to be in focus and then guides and instructs the activities in the classroom. The teacher job is to create a relaxing and encouraging enviroment for the students.


The Grammar Translation Method is a traditional approach to teaching. It is taught in the students first language and translating text and words is part of the learning process. In The Communicative Approach everything is communicated in the target language and there is no translation into the first language. The Grammar Translation Method  Emphasises on the written word unlike the Communicative Approach which focuses on the spoken word. In communicative teaching reading and writing skills are secondary and are expected to come naturally once the student has learned to speak the target language. The grammar is usually taught through elaborate explanation and out of context. Vocabulary is taught in the form of lists of isolated words which is to be memorised. There is almost no attention to the pronunciation of the words. The teacher is in charge of the classroom.


The Grammar Translation Method focuses on memorising and translating words and texts and there is very little attention to the content. Students learn about the language but not how to use it.

 In The Communicative Approach the content and the context is very important because the goal for the student is to be able to use the language in real life situations.


The Direct Method was created as a reaction against the traditional teaching practises of The Grammar Translation Method. The Direct Method unlike the Grammar Translation Method only uses the Target language in class, no translation is allowed. The Method prioritice vocabulary over grammar. Similar to the Communicative Approach the focus is on the spoken word but unlike the Commuicative Approach writing is ephasised at the begining of the course.  The students are encouraged  to think in the Target language and to be actively involved in using the language in realistic everyday situations.

 In both The Direct Method and The Communicative Approach teachers uses a lot of realia such as pictures, cards, games ad other aids to stimulate the learning process. 


The Audio-lingual Method like the Direct Method and the Communicative Approach teaches the students in the target language but unlike the other two it focuses on grammar patterns rather than Vocabulary. The method depends on repitition and memorisation of set phrases to reinforce learning. It prevents students from making mistakes by teaching structural patterns through repetitive drills.

The method unlike, The Direct Method and Communicative Approach, teaches a complete dialoge through sentences of fixed questions and answers.  There is a strong focus on pronunciation and an immediate reinforcement of the correct responses.

 The teacher is a role model to be copied. The teacher tells the student how to say a sentence and the student have to copy it. In The Direct Method and The communitative approach students are encouraged to come up with the answers themselves.


The communicative lesson is about getting the students to communicating and interacting  with others in the target language. The teacher needs to create an environment where the students feel comfortable enough to practise their speaking skill. In the Communicative Approach the teachers accomplice this by sitting at the same table as the students with everyone facing each other. They are not standing at a desk or blackboard. In the traditional teaching methods the teacher is the authoritative figure, but in the communicative lesson everyone is on the same level.

The Grammar Translation Method of teaching students in their first language and translating words and texts gives the students an understanding of the language it does not teach them how to use it in real life situations. Memorising words and writing texts does no teach the students to speak. The Grammar Translation Method and the Audio-lingual Method does not give students the opportunity to produce their own sentences it is given to them by the teacher.

In the Communicative lesson the students have to figure out their own answers which will help them when they have to use the language in a real situation.

In the Communicative lesson  the use of authenthic material and focus on realistic everyday situations helps the students understand and use the aquired language in a social context.

If you only teach the students fixed sentences and grammar isolated from the social context then the students will not learn to adapt to different real life situations. The students will only be able to ask and answer with the sentences they have been given by the teacher.

The Grammar translation Method and the Audio-lingual method does not give the students the tools to improvise in the target language. The goal of the communicative student is to be able to  interact with other people in any given situation.


The structures of The Grammar Translation Method and the Audio-lingual Method can be useful at a beginners level when the students need to have some basic grammatical knowlegde to get them started with their target language. And it can be useful for the student to learn a few fixed sentences to get them started with their spoken language. But when they progress they will need to learn more than a few memorised sentences.  The methods can also be useful if the goal of the student is to learn just enough to get by on a their holiday. The Methods are not sufficiently effective in teaching communication skills at a higher level.


The Direct Method is quite similar in many ways to The Communicative approach. The focus of both is on the spoken language and the students are encouraged to think for themselves they are not given the answers. The Direct Method and The Communicative approach both teaches the students to interact in simulations of real life situation. The practice of grammar and vocabulary are taught in context.  This is a much more efficient way of learning to communicate in a foreign language. The only way to learn to speak a language is to practice it. In real life you do not know what people will say when you talk to them and you might not be able to use the answers your teacher gave you. The ability to understand the language and how to use it is important when you find yourself in a unexpected situation. Perfect grammar and pronunciation is not essential. The most important thing is to understand and be understood.











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