Traditional Methods Of Language Teaching Term Paper

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Traditional Methods of Language Teaching

The paper discuses the various traditional methods of language teaching, namely:

Grammar Translation Method

The Audio-lingual Method

The Direct Method

The Silent Way

The Communicative Approach

Cognitive code learning

The Natural Approach

Behaviorist approach

Functional-Notional Approach and The task-based approach

The paper discusses each approach in details and describes its various chief principles and how it helps both teachers and students to teach, understand, learn, and practice all the skills they learn through these approaches.

Grammar Translation Method

This method involves the learner to spend a lot of time in understanding the language structure. Though both listening as well as speaking suffer because of it. However, grammar and vocabulary are being stressed throughout the teaching method.

The grammar translation method has been derived from traditional approaches to the teaching of Latin and Greek in the nineteenth century (Selected Lesson Plans). It was originally used to teach 'dead' languages as well as literatures for instance Latin and Greek, and was accounted for its heavy bias towards written work to the virtual leaving out of oral production. However, its main features are as follow (Kitao):

careful analysis of the target written language, particularly its grammar.

The Grammar rules are presented and learned clearly From bilingual word lists, vocabulary is learned paramount use of translation exercises

The medium of instruction is mother tongue

Less or no attention is paid to speaking and listening skills.

The Audio-lingual Method

Also known, as the aural-oral method is a self-teaching method. The audio lingual method resembles the Direct Method and its learning is based on repetition of dialogues about every day situations that are copied and is practiced to make the reply automatic and both reading and writing are the reinforcements of what the learner practices.

The Audio-Lingual Method also permits the learner to communicate fast but within the limited range that the repetition allows and provides a good comprehension only if the speaker exercise what the learner has studied. However, not only reading is limited, but also an understanding of how to use the language is very bounded. Thus, this method is used when a live trainer is not available (Welcome to ELT Net). Its main features are given as follow:

Speaking and listening capability lead ability in reading and writing

The mother tongue usage is discouraged in the classroom

Language skills are habit formulation; therefore, students should practice specific patterns of language through structured dialogues and drills till the language is adequately practiced for replies to be automatic.

The Direct Method

The Direct Method provides the learner the ability to communicate fast since the learner is encouraged to be creative during practice. It also provides the widest range of ability to understand what other person says to him as well as in developing his potential to speak.

This method is of choice for teaching with a live trainer and where speaking and listening are most vital and valuable. However, the direct method is developed as a reaction against the grammar-translation method (Capes - History of Language Teaching 2). Below are its key features:

The target language is only used in class

The learner is vigorously involved in using the language in realistic day-to-day circumstances

Encouragement is given to students to think in the target language

First speaking is taught and later only reading and writing (HET Team; Sim).

The Silent Way

The Silent Way is the name given to a method of language teaching that was developed by Caleb Gattegno. This traditional teaching method make use of imitate, gesture, all kinds of visual aids that includes color-coded pronunciation wall charts and, specially, Cuisiniere rods. In this process, the teacher has the aim to encourage the student of the language to be progressively more self-reliant and independent of the teacher where teacher just guides the complete process but saying as less as possible (Benstein).

It is largely by such means, that Gattegno as well as followers argued that learners appropriately retain grammatical structures and vocabulary items at a deeper level of awareness.

Thus learning theories that come under Gattegno's work were that learning a language is more effectual if learners take responsibility...
...This method highlights the learner's ability to use the language correctly in particular situations and makes the learners 'communicatively competent. However, learners should be able to choose and decide a specific kind of language and should know when, where and with whom they should use it (Sil International).

Furthermore, one of the major challenges of the communicative approach is to put together the functions of a language, which are information retrieval, problem solving, and social exchanges with the correct use of structures. However other fields that can be associated to the principles of the communicative approach are the cooperative learning approach and the learner-centred approach (Sil International).

This approach was a reaction against the grammar-translation method and the audio-lingual method as they did not emphasized the communicative uses of language. Whereas, the communicative approach laid its emphasis on the need to teach communicative competence as opposed to linguistic competence that is, it uses any activity that involves learners in authentic communication. However, Littewood, has distinguished two main activity types:

Functional communication activities: this activity aims at developing particular language skills and functions that engages communication, and Social interaction activities for instance, conversation and discussion sessions, dialogues and role plays.

Cognitive code learning

This method of learning looks upon language learning as an active problem-solving process, where learners are directed towards their own understanding of the rules.

There are two major cognitive theories, which are explained below:

Developmental cognitive theories:

These theories emphasize the fact that interaction among children around suitable tasks increases their development and their mastery of significant concepts. Vygotsky emphasized that learning is a socially mediated activity in one of his most important theories. According to him thinking and problem solving can be place in three categories.

Firstly, the child can perform some independently.

Others cannot be performed even with help.

Thirdly, between these two extremes are tasks that the child can perform with the help from others as in the zone of proximal development (HET Team; Sim).

Cognitive elaboration theories:

This theory states that if information is to be kept in memory and the related thing is to information is already in memory, then the learner must indulge in some sort of cognitive restructuring of the material. For instance, writing a summary or an outline of a lecture is a better way of study rather than only taking notes (Center for Applied Linguistics). Below are some of its main principles:

teacher in cognitive code learning should arouse a learner's mental activity.

The teacher should also create classroom contexts that may help students to relate new language knowledge to the one already existing

As an important part of the language learning process, a teacher should observe mistakes of the students.

Cognitive code learning does not stress memorization and drilling (HET Team; Sim).

The Natural Approach

The natural approach is based on a number of hypotheses about learning methods and circumstances for learning. Most of the hypotheses are based on one of the most influential models of Second Language Acquistition called the Monitor Model, which was developed by the American Linguist Stephen Krasher:

Acquisition -Learning Distinction

Monitor Hypothesis

Natural Order Hypothesis

Input Hypothesis (MAX Pages Website).

Acquisition -Learning Distinction:

Closely related to the distinction between learning and acquisition is the Monitor Model. There are two ways for adult learners of achieving the ability to perform in L2: tacit acquisition and conscious learning (MAX Pages Website).

The monitor hypothesis:

This hypothesis states that in L2 performance, the subconscious knowledge of L2 achieved through acquisition commence an utterance plan. However, the monitor checks and corrects the language output (ALTA Language Services and MAX Pages Website).

Natural Order Hypothesis:

There are certain 'universal procedures of language development' that everyone has a kind of internal natural syllabus of acquisition that results in same errors in the same moments in spite of the language one learns or has a language background (ALTA Language Services).

Input Hypothesis:

Input to the learner has to be understandable if acquisition is to move through the Natural Order and in order to be clear, input must meet a number of conditions such as it must be significant and has a form at a stage in the Natural Order simply beyond the learner's current understanding and ability. Thus, in this way, the learner learns to understand language by using clues that are based on the context in which the language is meet (ALTA Language Services).

Behaviorist approach

The Behavioral theories of teaching presume that humans are conditioned to behave as they do. In other words, people respond to stimuli the environment. In 1913 Thorndike, set that responses that have rewarding consequences are reinforce. However,…

Sources Used in Documents:


Benstein, Patricia. Explaining concepts behind the Silent Way. Wanadoo Communiquer.

Communicative language teaching. Sil International.


Capes - History of Language Teaching 2. Club Internet.

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