BERLITZ- THE DIRECT METHOD OF LANGUAGE TEACHING
“The Direct Method” popularly called “Berlitz method” is an interactive method that I particularly approve of. Its main objective is the use of language as a tool for communication.
I particularly favor this method because the direct method, as opposed to the traditional grammar translation method, advocates teaching through the target language only – the rationale being that students will be able to work out grammatical rules from the input language provided, without necessarily being able to explain the rules overtly. Printed language and text are reduced to the barest minimum, just as a first language learner does not use printed word until he has good grasp of speech. Lessons progress to verb forms and other grammatical structures with the goal of learning about 8 to 10 new target languages per lesson.
A little about “Berlitz”
The method was developed by Maximilian Berlitz, who migrated from Germany to the United States in 1872. He initially wanted to teach different languages using the traditional grammar approach. However, hiring a French assistant changed his perspective entirely. He found out that the Frenchman did not speak any English. When Beriltz had to go on sick leave, he left the Frenchman, Nicholas Joly, in charge of his classroom. Surprisingly, Berlitz came back expecting a disaster and found out that his students were actively interacting with Joly and had progressed even further than they would have done learning the material using a nontraditional method. The teacher communicated with the student through miming and gesturing. Grammar was not the essential goal because students were later able to discover grammatical rules on their own. It was at this point that Berlitz realized that the innovative technique used by Joly was more successful and stimulating.
The underlying principle of using TL will enable the student to use inductive or deductive reasoning for identifying grammatical rules without having to provide an explanation of the rules that are used. The Berlitz method combines both the productive and the receptive approach; listening, speaking and reading. Writing follows much later. As an example, consider the sample lesson plan below. Although I prepared it with P3 students in mind, it can easily be adjusted to suit any level. Such is the beauty of the direct method!
TITLE; I NEED A RAISE!
ISSUE: The world of work
SUBISSUE: Business Interaction- Talking to the boss
Objective- To guide the SS in the use of fixed expressions and appropriate registers when talking to their boss.
Intro: - Do you enjoy working here? - Would you like to have more free time for yourself? - Can you talk to your boss about it? - Will you like to know how?
Cut Attachment 1_Formal or Informal. Put all the pieces on the table. Ask each SS to select and read one, then say whether the expression is formal or not.
Drill appropriate expressions; TL - Excuse me Sir - I regret to inform you - I wonder if we could talk about ways to adjust my workload - Would you be so kind as to… - Should you require any assistance,.. - Should you have any queries,.. - You are welcome to investigate - Please authorize this
CCQ- Check for understanding of TL and its vocabulary in context Ask SS to name synonyms of some difficult TL SS can also come up with sentences for each
Introduce Attachment 2_Tips on how to talk to your boss. Read the attachment and explain difficult vocabulary.
Text; Shorter hours, a pay raise, a promotion … these are all reasons to talk with your boss. Remember that your boss is there to make sure you are satisfied enough to do your job well. Otherwise, everyone loses, including him. Always talk to your boss with respect. Arrange to have a real meeting with him. Know what you want and be ready to show why your idea is a good one. Be calm and confident. Prepare for the worst-case scenario. If his answer is no, ask for his reason. If he does not budge, ask if you can talk about the issue again at a later time. You have the right to ask for things and your boss has the right to tell you no. Do not ever feel like you should never ask. Change does not occur without a catalyst, and that catalyst—more often than not—is going to be you making a bold move.
ROLE PLAY- Activate TL (Attachment 3_Table of Scenarios)
SS roleplay using Attachment 3. Teacher hands out one to each student. They have to use sentences from Attachment 1 and tips from attachment 2 in their roleplay. Include details and give variety of responses.
Table of Scenarios-
1. Ask the boss for a raise. 2. Ask the boss for lesser workload. 3. Ask the boss to ''give you a lift'' from work. 4. Ask the boss to donate money to charity. 5. Ask the boss to sign off on your promotion. 6. Ask the boss for a few days off from work. 7. Ask the boss to sign a paycheck.
- Why is it important to use the right register when speaking to your boss? - Do you sometimes feel that formal expressions are not enough to express your feelings? - Do you sometimes use other funny means to show you do not support a decision your boss took?
Adjust- to move or change something slightly in order to achieve the desired result.
E.g. My work needs some adjustment, but in general they liked the idea.
Assistance-The act of giving help or support.
E.g. The boy asked for assistance.
Authorize- To give authority or official power to
E.g. The company authorized me to sign the contract.
Compensation- Something, such as money, given or received as payment for a service or loss of something.
E.g. He received compensation from the company.
Investigate- To look into carefully and closely so as to learn the facts; examine
E.g. I am going to investigate this murder.
Query- Question or request for information.
E.g. I have a query about my order.
Workload- The amount of work that you have at some time.
E.g. I have a really heavy workload this week.
Attachments ATTACHMENT 1_Formal or Informal.doc ATTACHMENT 2_Tips for talking to your boss ATTACHMENT 3_Table of Scenarios.doc
In the above lesson plan, the introduction is pretty basic yet engaging for any business student. The student is quickly assured that the L2 he is learning will fill an actual communicative need. Activity 1 develops the SS receptive skills while activity 2 focuses on productive skills. Amazingly though, both skills are activated using the TL without necessarily giving the SS a piece of paper and a pen!
-When I ask the students to give me synonyms or antonyms of and make sentences using the target language, I am already checking their understanding of the concept. Activity 1
-When I ask the students to role play, I am motivating them into activating TL. In that instance, they are encouraged to communicate as if in real situation. I am just there to correct structure errors. The SS does most of the talking. Activity 2
In my opinion, this method of teaching is the best for effective communicative learning. The total immersion into the language helps the SS to learn how to use the language in real life situations straight away. By practicing so much in the classroom, the SS are more prepared to express themselves confidently outside using pronunciations easily understood.
My role as the teacher will be to direct class activities. Both the students and teacher should be partners in the learning process and there ought to be a large amount of Learner-Learner interaction (STT) as they play an active role. Since the syllabus used in the direct method is always situation-based, SS can easily identify with it, unwittingly nudging them into conversing in the target language.
In executing this lesson plan, I will come prepared with authentic materials i.e cut-outs of some sample expressions we use in our everyday life and those we use in a formal setting. When I introduce each TL, I will show the meaning through modeling and mimics. This will help me avoid translating into the students’ first language. For lower level SS, I will use very simple easy-to-understand expressions but make it progressively challenging for intermediate and advanced students. You will notice that the lesson plan has 3 activities. I could choose whether to incorporate the text reading or not depending on the level of students I will be teaching. That way, even if the text is removed entirely because it does not match the SS level, the plan is still rich enough. Please note too that I have not highlighted any TL in the text from attachment 2 because using the attachment is optional. I will grade my choice of TL to suit their level. Of course, I will also take notes of some recurrent mistakes the students make. Afterwards, I will present and correct those common mistakes during a follow-up session so that all can benefit from the analysis of the errors made and why. In my opinion, this is a better approach to correction because a good teacher who propagates the direct method would not want to interrupt the students’ flow of conversation when they are practicing the target language.
My personal approach is not only that of a teacher but also an educator. I will generate a natural environment that motivates learners into self study and exploration. My approach will employ total physical response- visual, audio, kinesthetic- aimed at eliciting communicative competence in students.
For me, the most important thing is that the SS in themselves activate the target language through practical use.
In conclusion, the academic and intellectual world may see this method as being quite unusual and nontraditional. Critics have argued that this method can be effectively used only by teachers who are native speakers and the learner is confronted with unstructured situations too soon.
However, the direct method is considered by many to be more adaptive and popular with students who want to learn a foreign language without having to be too concerned about grammatical translation.
The pros far outweigh the cons. This fun and enjoyable conversation style of teaching creates a very lively atmosphere around the table which in turn motivates the learners. A warm relationship quickly develops between students and teacher because the teacher approach is mostly laid-back. The learners’ interest in L2 is heightened, they learn the language, not about the language, they play an active role in the process, the learning is contextualized, the emphasis on speech make it attractive for those who need real communication in L2 and the teaching of vocabulary through realia brings authenticity into the classroom.