A branch of study. Methods (Методика) as a branch of study is the science of ways or manners (methods) of teaching. Methods of foreign language teaching is the science of methods teaching foreign languages

Methods of Foreign Language Teaching


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Methods of Foreign Language Teaching

A person who starts studying Methods will be puzzled by the variety of "methods" he may come across in books and journals and, of course, there are good grounds for this.

At different periods, depending on the aims of teaching and learning a foreign language, new methods sprang up. Moreover, the methods themselves have been modified by teachers and textbook writers, while still remaining recognizably the same basic method by another so that same amalgamated versions have resulted. In each case the method received a certain name denoted logical categories, for example: the synthetic method (synthesis), the analytic method (analysis), the deductive method (deduction), the inductive method (induction) sometime the method was names after the aspect of the language upon which attention was focused as in the cases of the grammar method, the lexical method, the phonetic method. A third set of methods received their names from the skill which was the main object of teaching. Among these is the translation method, the oral method. Sometimes the method got its name from the psychology of language learning: in this category, the following names occur; the intuitive method, the conscious method, the direct method. Finally, the method was sometimes named after its inventor. Thus we find: the Amos Comenius method, the Jacotot method, the Berlitz method, the Palmer (West, Fries) method. In some cases the methods bear coupled names: they represent two sides of teaching , for example, the leading aspect of the language and the skill the pupils acquire (the grammar-translation method), or the name of the author and the language activity which is the main aim in teaching-"Fries oral method", "the method of teaching reading by West". We may find even such names as "hearsay-see-say-read-write method" and other.

All the methods existed in the history of teaching languages are grouped into four classes. It is certainly true that all four methods have survived intact and are still being used by some teachers somewhere in the world. The four following methods are archetypes-classic examples – and offer a clear picture of the way language teaching has developed in the present century. Teachers of English have concluded that no single method or approach is appropriate for all learning styles. A good lesson will therefore be one in which you use a smorgasbord of activities taken from a variety of sources. By varying your technique, you will give students of all styles the chance to shine some of the time. With this thought in mind, you can begin to appraise the language learning approaches used in the country in which you serve. Each method (approach) has something to offer. Our task is to identify AND exploit those elements.

Below, we have selected for comment those methods which have had a long history and have influenced the contemporary methods of foreign language teaching, and live on in them.

The Grammar Translation Method. The grammar translation method looks upon language learning as an intellectual activity. Untill twenty-thirty years ago, this method was commonly used in Europe to teach Latin in schools. For a long time, it was uncritically assumed that this was the only way languages should be taught. It was transferred to the teaching of modern languages when they were introduced into schools, first as an optional and then as a compulsory subject. In a typical Grammar Translation class the main focus is on reading and writing, with little attention being given to speaking or listening. The method consisted of giving the pupils grammatical rules and paradigms. Paradigms are lists of forms arranged according to a grammatical pattern.

For example: Simple Present Indicative Active Tense of the verb "to go"



First person

I go

We go

Second person

You go

You go

Third person

He ________________

She - goes

It -

They go

The central text for each lesson is literary. Passages are selected from authors such as M. Twain, Ch. Dickens or modern writers. These passages are read and then comprehension questions are asked and answered, first orally, then in writing. Grammar is taught deductively, through presentation and study of the rules, followed by practise through translations and exercises. Students were also given lists of vocabulary together with their translation equivalents in their mother tongue. And they were given grammatical rules such as the rule for the usfeage of some and any together with any exceptions to these rules. First students had to memorize all these" "facts" about the language and they were often tested on their knowledge by being asked to recite the paradigms or give the translation of words. Or they were asked to "parse" words. E.g. “He goes" is the third person singular of the simple present indicative active tense of the verb "to go". Next the students were made to put their knowledge to use by translating sentences or texts from mother tongue to foreign language or vice-versa. So memorization particularly may be considered a valued teaching tool, especially in societies where oral traditions are strong, or where periods of study in Koranic or Buddhist schools are the norm. In teaching a foreign language by means of the grammar-translation method attention was paid to the assimilation of grammar rules of the foreign language that pupils studied. The vocabulary was "turned up" to grammar. Translation was extensively unilized both as a means of explanation of new words, grammar forms, and structures, an as a means of mastering the foreign language, all exercises for assimilating the language material being limited to translation from the mother tongue into the foreign language and from the foreign language into the mother tongue.

The distinguishing features of the grammar-translation method are: 1) insistence upon grammatical analysis and 2) the assumption that grammatical categories can be defined in general terms with reference to meaning, the grammatical categories being the common denominator of all languages. According to this method the best way to say a sentence in a foreign language is to start with a sentence in the mother tongue, analyze it grammatically into such components as subject, i.e. one who performs the action, predicative, that which denotes the action, object, that which receives the action, etc. If necessary pupils go on with the analysis, for example, they name tense, mood, etc. Then the pupils is told to find the corresponding forms in the foreign language.


The Grammar Translation Method:

1. Classes are taught in the mother tongue, with little active use of the target language.

2. Much vocabulary is taught in the form of lists of isolated words.

3. Long elaborate explanations of the intricacies of grammar are given.

4. Grammar provides the rules for putting words together and instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words.

5. Reading of difficult classical texts is begun early.

6. Little attention is paid to the content of texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical analysis.

7. Often the only drills are exercised in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue.

8. Little or no attention is given to pronunciation.

There were many serious disadvantages «i-the grammar-translation method.

Here are some obvious ones:

1) The grammatical analysis was very neat and satisfactory for the grammarians who had devised it, but it often made facts about the language very confusing to the students.

2) The method put a tremendous strain on students' memories.

3) Word-to-word translations were often unsatisfactory.

4) The students had to learn a lot of grammatical terms ( noun, tense, indicative, etc). In fact, they had to learn a new language, talking about language.

The grammar-translation method in its orthodox form was practised in schools in the XVIII-th and XlX-th centuries. The development of pedagogies, psychology and linguistics brought changes in the grammar-translation method. It was greatly modified at the end of the XlX-th century and in the XX-th century, and, first of all, these modifications dealt with the approach to the relationship of "two grammars". Instead of forcing the target language into the mold of the learner's native language, the "grammars" are compared with the result of better comprehension and retention in all points of difference and interference. The grammar-translation method is often mentioned even nowadays when one wants to emphasize a traditional approach to foreign language teaching.

The Direct Method

It has often been pointed out that the direct method was developed as a reaction to the grammar-translation method. This is true, but in fact people have been learning languages by this method at least as early as Roman times, when young men were provided with Greek, the cultural language of Europe in those days and an essential part of one's education. The educationalists attempted to build a language learning methodology around their observations of child language learning. They argued that a foreign language could be taught without translation or use of the learner's native tongue. The Direct Method therefore insists on thinking and communicating directly in the target language and does not allow translation. The Berlitz School of Languages is the best known proponent of this method.

The appearance of this method was brought about by the rapid development of various branches of industry and the tremendous development of international trade and colonial expansion required plenty of officials who had a practical

mastery of the language, people who could speak and write a foreign language and be able to communicate with foreigners. Therefore practical mastery of a foreign language becomes the main purpose of teaching this subject at school. The rapid development of pedagogies, psychology, namely, a perceptive psychology, and linguistics promoted the appearance of new methods.

Distinguishing Features: The four language skills are taught from the beginning, but a special emphasis is placed on speaking. Classes often start with the reading aloud of a specially graded text which introduces the lesson's vocabulary and grammatical structure. Practice follows with exercises such as guided conversation, where the teacher asks questions on the text and the students answer using full sentences. Students will then ask each other similar questions. Other practice exercises include filling-in-the blanks, dictation, controlled composition or listening comprehension exercises. Grammar is taught inductively, that is to say, language patterns are presented and practiced, but the rules are not explicitly given. The Direct Method teacher uses mime, demonstrations, relia, and visual aids to help students understand grammar and vocabulary.

1) The practical direction in the teaching of foreign languages which is understood as teaching language skills and speaking in particular, therefore spoken language becomes the basis of teaching;

2) the ignoring of the existence of the mother tongue as it is assumed that learning the mother tongue and learning a foreign language are similar processes, merely undertaken at different ages;

3) Restricted application or very often complete elimination of translation as a means of teaching a language which plays a leading part in the grammar-translation method;

4) the inductive approach to teaching grammar, i.e., the learner may discover the rules of grammar for himself after he has become acquainted with many examples (in the grammar-translation the rule is first stated, and then sentences embodying the rule are studied; later the rule is put into practice by writing new sentences, generally by translating sentences from the mother tongue into the foreign language);

5) Great care in teaching pronunciation throughout the course and especially the first weeks and months. Correct pronunciation must be constantly practiced since comprehension and speaking is possible if the learner has adequate pronunciation in the target language;

6) Great attention to the subjects of the texts, especially a topical arrangement of the material with the purpose of ensuring speech development.

The method is called direct because in teaching a foreign language an attempt is made to establish a direct connection between a foreign word and the thing or notion it denotes without the aid of the native language. The "No Translation" rule can become an issue. Teachers complain that it is sometimes time consuming to mime vocabulary, when a simple translation would do. And some words are difficult to mime. Students become frustrated when some members of the class do not understand the teacher's explanations and when the whole class is held up untill the meaning becomes clear to all.. While monitoring carefully the amount of your students' native language you use in class, you should use your common sense in this question of translation. If you judge that your students are not getting the point, or the meaning of a particular word, if you think that your lesson straying from its objectives, and if you know the word in your students' language, then give a translation and get on with your lesson. Many of the textbooks based on the Direct Method, most of which are by now quite dated, were written for Western school children. This can be problematic since the method is heavily dependent on the text and the texts are not guarantied to be culturally accessible. A textbook used in Francophone Africa describes children having cornflakes for breakfast, putting on their Wellington boots because it is raining, and catching a double-decker bus to go to school. It is not difficult to transfer this lesson into a cultural context that your students will understand, but it is an additional barrier for your students to overcome. And your role in this process will be to provide the necessary cultural translation.


1. Lessons begin with a brief anecdote or dialogue in the target language, and in modern conversational style.

2. The material is first presented orally with actions or pictures.

3. The mother tongue is never , never used.(i.e., there is no translation).

4. The preferred type of exercise is a series of questions in the target language based on the anecdote or dialogue, and answered in the target language.

5. Grammar is taught inductively: rule generalization comes only after experience. 6. Verbs are used first and systematically conjugated much later.

7. Advanced students read literature for comprehension and pleasure; literary texts are not analyzed grammatically.

8. The culture association with the target language is also taught inductively.

At the end of the XlX-th and in the beginning of the XX-th century there appeared several varieties of the direct method which differed only in some details.

The most orthodox advocates of the Direct Method were F. Gorin, M.Berlitz, M.Walter, and B.Eggert. The teachers, who accepted the method, involve the pupil from the first step of learning a new language in conversation and supply meaning by referring directly to objects and picture charts; they act out the meaning of sentences in order to make themselves understood.

The direct method found ready seepporters. At stimulated enormously the pupils’ curiosity to learn and make progress. But there were too many difficulties in the use of the method, the main of them being the following;

1. No scientific principles were applied to selection of study material and vocabulary in particular. The only principle applied was the topical one, the material was arranged in topics. As a result of such arrangement of vocabulary, the pupil had to assimilate a great number of words. For example, in textbooks compiled according to F. Gouin's system the vocabulary listed 8.000 words.

2. School conditions did not favour the development of pupils speech habits (too few periods a week, overcrowded classes, lack of visual materials, etc.).

3. In the hands of un experienced and ill-equipped teachers the direct method did not work and the teachers had to return to the old grammartranslation method. However during the period between the two wars it became possible to revive the main principles of the direct method;

a) by careful experimentation ;

b) by taking note of the new developments in the field of linguistics (Ferdinand de Saussure) and psychology (Thorndike);

c) by insisting that clear statements he made as to the aims of objectives of teaching.

This was done by Henry Palmer and M. West, prominent English methodologists. The main points in Palmer's method are

1. In learning a foreign language the pupil must tread the path he has followed in acquiring the mother tongue, i.e. starting with oral language.

2. The teaching of a foreign language must be based upon carefully selected material. H.Palmer was one of the first methodologists who tried to work out the principles of vocabulary selection on a scientific basis. A Special Research Institute was established in Tokyo and H.Palmer headed this Institute. The results of the work were 3000 word minimum vocabulary list.

3. Great attention should be given to the rationalization of a study material to make the assimilation of a foreign language easier. Henry Palmer compiles a series of study guides for teaching oral language:

1) English through Actions.

2) 100 Substitution Tables- in which typical English sentences (sentence patterns) are arranged in tables for pupils to make up their own sentences. This table wills yield 4096 perfectly rational sentences.

3) Systematic Exercises in English Pronunciation. In this book a graded system of exercises in pronunciation is presented.

4) Standard English Reader contains easy material which gradually becomes more complicated and interesting to read. The material is based on selected vocabulary.

5) English Through Questions and Answers is attached to these readers.

The Books present a gradual transition from simple to complex questions on every text. Later on the books "Graded Exercises in English Composition" are added. These books contain various grammar and vocabulary exercises on each text of the Standard Readers. Palmer distinguishes four stages in teaching and learning a foreign language: elementary, intermediate, advanced, and subsequent life, as Henry Palmer says: “Learning a language has a beginning, but no end”.

H. Palmer gives much attention to methods of teaching in the first two stages. H esays: “Take care of the initial stage and the rest will take care of themselves”. Since, in his opinion , its necessary to begin by teaching oral language, he works out most carefully the methods and techniques of teaching this aspect of speech activity. In contrast to H. Palmer, M.West proposes to begin by teaching to read.In support of such a sequence in foreign languages teaching: from reading ~ reception, to speaking ~ reproduction, M.West advances the following arguments:

1. In country where the child must be bilingual and he brought into easy contact with world culture it is necessary to begin by teaching to read.

2. Reading is the easiest aspect of the language to acquire, for reading involves no active use of grammar and idioms and the memory of the vocabulary is merely recognition. M.West says it is necessary to begin with reading because “We need not begin by teaching the child to speak for that would be to teach something easy by means of something more difficult”.

3. In teaching reading it is easier to develop a sense of the language and a feeling of what is idiomatic which would very greatly diminish the child's liability to errors and very greatly accelerate his progress.

4. In learning reading the child will sooner feel his progress in language knowledge and enjoy it. Besides, he can improve his knowledge independently without the teacher's aid.

M.West compiled a series of teaching materials for teaching reading: ten readers, supplementary readers, exercise books, and blank companions. He has developed methods of teaching oral language and compiled special teaching materials for the purpose. We greatly appreciate H.Palmer and M.West for their contribution to Methods. These English methodologists have enriched the technology of foreign language teaching:

1. They have raised the problem of careful selection of language material, worked out criteria of selection, and selected the material.

2. They have raised the problem of the necessity for rationalizing teaching materials and worked out systems of foreign language teaching: H.Palmer-speaking, M.West-both reading and speaking.

3. They have compiled series of guide books: H.Palmer for teaching speaking; M.West for teaching reading and speaking.

4. They have introduced a lot of new and effective exercises: H.Palmer for the development of speaking skills, M.West for the development of reading skills and comprehension of a foreign text as well as for the development of speaking.

1. G.V.Rogova. Methods of Teaching English. Moscow, 1983.

2. Peter Hubbard and others. A Training Course for TEFL. Oxford University Press, 1987.

3. Гез А.И. и другие. “Методика обучения иностранным языкам в средней школе”. Москва, 1982г.

4. Пальмер Г. “Устный метод обучения иностранным языкам”. Москва, 1960г.

5. Уэст М.”Обучения английскому языку в трудных условиях”. Москва,1966r.

Lecture 6

Theme: Contemporary Methods of foreign language teaching
1. General Remarks

2. The andio-1ingual Methods

3. Audio-Visual Method

4. The structural-situational method

5. Mixed or in-between methods

6. Behavioral method of teaching

7. The Cognitive Approach

8. Communicative Language Teaching

9. Suggestopedia
Methods of Foreign Language Teaching

Contemporary Methods

All the points mentioned in previous described methods are undergoing further development in contemporary Methods abroad. There are many Methods of language teaching and a considerable amount of controversy as to the best way of foreign languages teaching abroad at present. However it is possible to group them into(l) traditional Methods which have truer origin in the grammar' translation method, and (2) audio-lingual methods which are considered to be a further development of the direct method line., The traditional approach to foreign language teaching is characterized by (1) the use of the native language for explanation, retention and checking; (2) the deductive explanation of grammar and the use of grammar exercises (3) the development of all the language ski11s, i.e., hearing, speaking, reading, and writing from the beginning of the course. This approach is called traditional because it has been prevalent in schools for a long time. The traditional methods, although they are adopting some kinds of innovation in teaching materials, still retain those distinguishing characteristics. Since these methods are often contrasted with audio- lingual methods. The audio-lingual methods are considered to be contemporary ones. During the second World War, army programmes were set up to teach American military personnel languages such as German, French, Japanese and Tagalot. Strong emphasis was placed on aural-oral training. The Audio-lingual Method developed from these programmes. This method was also influenced by behavioral psychologists who believed that foreign language learning is basically a process of Mechanical habit formation. It could be said that this method consist entirely of drilling in one form or another. Audio-lingual means “Listening-speaking”. Another name for the method is the confusing homophony of the phrase aural-oral. The method consist of presenting an oral model to the student, on tape or on the teacher‘s voice, and caring out a series of pattern drills based on the model. In the audio-lingual method, skills are taught in the natural order of acquisition: listening, reading, speaking and writing. Audio-lingual classes begin with a dialogue which introduces the lesson’s sentence patterns. The students memorize this dialogue then practice grammar patterns in drill such as listen and repeat substitution, chain and transformation. Accuracy in pronunciation is emphasized and festered through minimal pair drills where students learn to differentiate between sounds such the vowels in “ship” and “sheep”, “bit” and “beat” and “hit” and “heat”. Lessons are sequenced according to grammatical complexity. Translation, considered to cause interference from the mother tongue, is not allowed. Learning is tightly controlled by the teacher, who follows the text closely.

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