Principles & Procedures
Jill Kerper Mora, Ed.D.
San Diego State University
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Below is a description of the basic principles and procedures of the most recognized methods for teaching a second or foreign language.For a survey of the history of second or foreign language teaching click here.
Click here for L2 teaching methods described below:
Community Language Learning
The Silent Way
Total Physical Response
The Grammar-Translation Approach
This approach was historically usedin teaching Greek and Latin. The approach was generalized to teaching modern languages.
Classes are taught in the students' mother tongue, with little active use of the target language. Vocabulary is taught in the form of isolated word lists. Elaborate explanations of grammar are always provided. Grammar instruction provides the rules for putting words together; instruction often focuses on theform and inflection of words. Reading of difficult texts is begun early in the course of study. Little attention is paid to the content of texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical analysis. Often the only drills are exercises in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue, and vice versa. Little or no attention is given to pronunciation.
For areview of elements of grammar teaching click here.
The Direct Approach
This approach was developed initially as a reaction to the grammar-translation approach in an attempt to integrate more use of the target language in instruction.
Lessons begin with a dialogue using a modern conversational style in the target language. Material is first presented orally with actions or pictures. The mothertongue is NEVER, NEVER used. There is no translation. The preferred type of exercise is a series of questions in the target language based on the dialogue or an anecdotal narrative. Questions are answered in the target language. Grammar is taught inductively--rules are generalized from the practice and experience with the target language. Verbs are used first and systematically conjugated only muchlater after some oral mastery of the target language. Advanced students read literature for comprehension and pleasure. Literary texts are not analyzed grammatically. The culture associated with the target language is also taught inductively. Culture is considered an important aspect of learning the language.
The Reading Approach
This approach is selected for practical and academic reasons. Forspecific uses of the language in graduate or scientific studies. The approach is for people who do not travel abroad for whom reading is the one usable skill in a foreign language.
The priority in studying the target language is first, reading ability and second, current and/or historical knowledge of the country where the target language is spoken. Only the grammar necessary for readingcomprehension and fluency is taught. Minimal attention is paid to pronunciation or gaining conversational skills in the target language. From the beginning, a great amount of reading is done in L2, both in and out of class. The vocabulary of the early reading passages and texts is strictly controlled for difficulty. Vocabulary is expanded as quickly as possible, since the acquisition of vocabulary isconsidered more important that grammatical skill. Translation reappears in this approach as a respectable classroom procedure related to comprehension of the written text.
The Audiolingual Method
This method is based on the principles of behavior psychology. It adapted many of the principles and procedures of the Direct Method, in part as a reaction to the lack of speaking skills of the Reading...