The last four decades of the 29th century witnessed a phenomenal increase in global communication. Many people, across the world, showed an intense and abiding interest in modern languages. Dissatisfaction with the traditional methods, their validity and adequacy, especially with their treatment of spoken language led to the birth of the Audio-Lingual method which is based onthe aural-oral approach. It put accent on the acquisition of oral language skills through oral practice based on repetition and analogy.
A. Theoretical background
The Audio-Lingual theory is derived from linguistics and psychology. It is a combination of structural linguistic theory, contrastive analysis, aural-oral procedures and behaviorist psychology. In this theory language is seen ashaving its own unique system. The system comprises several different levels: phonological, morphological and syntactic. Each level has its own distinctive patterns. Language learning is viewed as the acquisition of a practical set of communication skills. It entails language and learning the rules by which these elements are combined from phoneme to morpheme to word or phrase to sentence. Language isprimarily spoken and only secondarily written. Therefore, it is assumed that speech has priority in language teaching.
This theory is an interpretation of language learning in terms of stimuli and response, operant conditioning and reinforcement with emphasis on successful error-free learning.
The aim of this method is:
1. to make students able to use the target languagecommunicatively and automatically without stopping to think; and
2. to help students to acquire the structural patterns.
The principles of this method are:
1. Instructions are given in the target language.
2. Language forms occur within a context.
3. Students’ native language interferes as little as possible with the students’ attempts to acquire the target language.
4. Teachingis directed to provide students with a native-speaker-like model.
5. Analogy provides a better foundation for language learning than analysis.
6. Errors are carefully avoided because they lead to the formation of bad habits.
7. Positive reinforcement helps the student to develop correct habits.
8. Students are encouraged to learn to respond to both verbal and nonverbal stimuli.
9. The teacheris regarded as an orchestra leader-conducting, guiding and controlling the students’ behavior in the target language.
10. Learning a foreign language is treated on par with the native language learning.
11. A comparison between the native language and the target language is supposed to help teachers to find the areas with which their students probably experience difficulty: this is expected tohelp students to overcome the habit of the native language.
12. Language is not seen separated from culture. Culture is the everyday behavior of people who use the target language. One of the teachers’ responsibilities is to present information about that culture in context.
13. Students are taken to be the imitators of the teacher’s model or the tapes.
14. The dialogue is the chief means ofpresenting vocabulary, structures and it is learned through repetition and imitation.
15. Mimicry, memorization and pattern drills are the practice techniques that are emphasized.
16. Most of the interaction is between the teacher and the learner and it is imitated by the learner.
17. Listening and speaking are given priority in language teaching, and they precede reading and writing.
18.Correct pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation are emphasized.
19. The meanings of the words are derived in a linguistic and cultural context and not in isolation.
20. Audio-visual aids are used to assist the students’ ability to form new language habits.
Those are the common features of the Audio-Lingual method of language teaching. Again, there may be substantial variation...