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Language Teaching Approaches

GTM, Direct, Methd, CLT

Language Teaching Approaches: An Overview

Introduction: language Teaching has been a fluctuating field as it is not as steady a subject as, say, chemistry, physics, etc., where a new theory takes years to make space. Yet, in language teaching, there is so much instability in the writer’s eyes due to the fact that many teachers don’t know the history of changes in teaching approaches and methods. She tries to create awareness by shedding light on this matter so that the teacher should not pride by merely innovating a method or technique that has already been practiced.

Pre-Twentieth Century Trends: A Brief Survey:
In classical Greek and Medieval Latin periods, people tended to learn foreign languages as both of these language were considered major languages. High education like philosophy, politics, religion, and history, was imparted in these languages. Thus,, the educated class of that very span of time, sharpened its edges over speaking, reading, and writing of these language par excellence. However, there was, that time, no established way of teaching these languages.

During the Renaissance, the Latin-speaking tendency formed a notorious image in the educated elite. Through a great many books (made available to majority by printing press invention) the notion was clearly displayed that grammar of classical Latin text was different from that of the spoken variety. Thus speaking Latin evolved into analyzing it: Grammar Translation Method. This notion surely contributed to the fall of speaking variety of Latin as more and more people shied away from its oral practice.

As different European civilizations came into contact during the Renaissance period, learning foreign languages sprang into high jump. This gives us one well-known name of a Czech language teaching methodologist: Johann Amos Comonius. He stressed the needs of rules imitations; repetition; beginning with limited vocabulary and so on. He is perhaps the first inductivist. Yet, we witness that by the start of the nineteenth century, GTM once again came into full swings.

Quite naturally, by the end of the twentieth century, the Direct Method Approach took stance against GTM. This method was largely in opposition of GTM as it stressed those areas of teaching that GTM Approach overlooked. It was mainly influenced by the view of the scholars that also pioneered the first IPA symbols.

Direct Method Approach accentuated the spoken variety teaching along with the new discoveries on the side of phonology. This method even expanded considerably; none the less, it met a decline as in North America, say, fluent teachers of foreign language were a big fish to hook.

There arose, out of need, the Reading Approach, in view of improving learner’s reading skills to foundationally enable them towards language learning. This did not last long since the blazing flame of World War II demanded a method that could quickly produce learners familiar with foreign languages. Henceforth, some linguists, hired by the US government, devised the Audio-Lingual Approach – a mixture of behavioral psychology and structural linguistics. The same while we eye the Oral or Situational Approach taking strides in Britain. With difference both focused on quick teaching of a foreign language, working on narrow or specified areas.

In addition to the above-noted five approaches, four more approaches were in considerable practice. Now the writer categorizes all these approaches as follows:

• Grammar Translation Approach
• Direct Method Approach
• Reading Approach
• Audio-lingual Approach
• Oral or Situational Approach
• Cognitive Approach
• Affective Humanistic Approach
• Comprehension Approach
• Communicative Approach

We now look at each approach one by one.

1: GTM: It focused only on written skills of the learners thus teaching through translation method under specified techniques of deductive style.

2: Direct Method Approach: It focused more on spoken skills and teaching inductively with no use of L1. However, it had its own flaws, e.g., trained teacher and other necessary equipment like realia, pictures were hard to acquire in every situation.

3: Reading Approach: It is like GTM since it also stressed on written skills. But, it was flexible approach as far as the teaching is concerned.

4: Audio-Lingual Approach: It enhances the DM and again depreciates the Reading Approach. Still, it demanded, as well, a trained teacher. Else, it was more mimicry than fresh learning.

5: Oral or Situational Approach: A cousin of the ALM.

6: Cognitive Approach: It may be said to be a modern approach for it views language learning to be a natural process. It centers on teaching all four skills: in a natural process, it overlooks errors as inevitable happening.

7: Affective Humanistic Approach: It is actually a modification of Cognitive Approach.

8: Comprehension Based Approach: It tried to teach through a more natural process, i.e., it offers a great deal of listening and does not force to activate speaking from learner. In fact, it is a step forward on the Cognitive approach.

9: Communicative Approach: One fairly modern approach, it views language learning more as a system thus revolving to teach as a system, i.e., authentic material and practical situation.

With an overview of all the teaching methods, it should be pointed out that another “Syllabus Type” approach is taking high gear. It actually is a far more practical angle to view language teaching. It favours designing a syllabus that is result-bringing: the learners should learn the language. It does not advocate any specific method or approach.
Published: 2006-06-09
Author: M. Mazhar

About the author or the publisher
I have been working as a freelance writer for the past almost five years. My work include 5 books, advertising campaigns, lots of editin, proofreading, translation.
Not an all-rounder, my area of professional skills covers: research-based how-to content, and creative copywriting, including tongue-in-cheek filler; greeting cards. Philosophical writing is one of my area too.

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