Selasa, 22 Juni 2010

The Silent Way


The idea that a foreign language could be learned by memorising lists of vocabulary and grammar rules and by continual reference to one's native tongue has been rejected by most teachers of foreign languages today. Of the many alternative methods in use now, most have common basic elements: the learning of phrases and sentences instead of single words, the infrequent use of the native tongue, the emphasis on the spoken language, etc., but all still rely on memory as the key to mastery and include a variety of tools to aid memory, including video and audio tapes, drills and exercises. At the same time many of these new methods claim to teach the foreign language in imitation or simulation of the way a baby learns his native tongue.

These approaches overlook some very basic truths. If one considers speaking one's native tongue it becomes immediately clear that one does not remember it, one uses it. Situations trigger verbal responses. It is also evident that memory is one of our weakest faculties and therefore makes a poor basis for learning.

In all languages there are two kinds of words; those which can be simply substituted one for another from one language to the next, and those which cannot be dealt with in this way. The first group includes all names of objects that belong to the environments of the people using the language in question. Most nouns are in this category. These words can be matched in a one-to-one correspondence and we could conceive of them as being in vocabularies only requiring either to be recalled or looked-up. The second category of words is the one that generates the problems in language learning. Since it is not possible to resort to a one-to-one correspondence, the only way open is to reach the area of meaning that the words cover, and find in one self whether this is a new experience which yields something of the spirit of the language, or whether there is an equivalent experience in one's own language but expressed differently. To make sense of an original text written by a native, one needs much more than a morphological knowledge of the language and the possession of a set of equivalents.

If we consider the problems met in the acquisition of the second group of words mentioned above, it seems obvious that recourse to one's native tongue is not helpful, and the language ought to be blocked. But the acquisition of the mother tongue brings with it an awareness of what language is and it is this that must be retained; it is by keeping in touch with this awareness that a student who has already mastered his first language (at an average age of four or five years old) is in an appreciably stronger position when it comes to tackling a second.

Awareness of what language is includes the use of non-verbal components of language: melody, hythm, intonation, breathing, inflection, etc. We could add to this awareness connected to the reading of a language: the conventions of writing, the combinations of letters to form the signs of different sounds and the possibility of one sound being represented by more than one combination.

Thus there is no chance to present to a learner of a foreign language any situation comparable to that which he has faced as a baby. The presentation of a foreign language in a classroom is far from natural and it can only be learned in school by artificial methods constructed for the purpose. In a classroom a teacher is there to present what is to be learned in a highly controlled way, which is quite unlike the situation for babies, who are subjected to a flow of words knitted together by the sustaining meaning, and coming from the source as a whole. People in contact with babies do not take special care when addressing them: they use the language which is available to them to say all they wish to say as completely as when talking among themselves. Our proposal is to apply an artificial and for some purposes a strictly controlled approach, using materials constructed for this purpose. We will meet our students as people who already own much of what is needed to acquire a language and who have shown by the acquisition of their native tongue that they are endowed with mental powers that are, to say the least, sizeable.

The materials: a set of coloured wooden rods

a set of wall pictures and accompanying worksheets

Wall charts a set of word charts a set of fidel charts

a sound/colour fidel

A pointer

Mini charts a set of miniature word charts and fidel charts plus fidel

key, sound colour fidel key, exercises.

Three texts a book of 1000 sentences; a book of short passages; a book

of stories.

We make a start with the vocabulary of the second group of words, which we call the functional vocabulary. By using a number of small coloured rods, the teacher creates simple linguistic situations which are totally under her control. The situations can be very simple. They can be gradually made more complex as progress is made. The rods are used here to provide the support of perception and action to the intellectual guess of what the noises mean, thus bringing in the arsenal of criteria already developed and automatic in one's use of one's native tongue

From simple expressions and directions (take a red rod and put it here; give it to me; give it to her, etc.) it is only a matter of hours before a very precise and complex set of instructions can be given or written by the student:

There are seven rods on the table, a blue one, two red ones, a yellow one, a black one, a white one and a dark green one. All the rods are vertical except for one red one. This red one is lying on top of the blue rod which is standing on top of the white rod. The yellow rod is behind the blue rod and the other red rod is in front of the blue rod. The blue rod is between the green rod and the black rod. The black rod is on the right of the blue rod and the green is on the left. The yellow rod is bigger than the white rod and the red rods, but smaller than the blue, green and black rods. The blue rod is the biggest and the white rod is the smallest.

The structure used above can be transformed immediately into any description in-volving spatial relations and comparisons by the substitution of other nouns and adjectives. The rods are portable and easy to manipulate. They have qualities of colour, size and number. They can be used to build houses, furniture, clocks, etc., to represent people, family trees and with the help of imagination, anything else needed and not available in a classroom. Unlike pictures, they create situations which are not static, allowing for a sequence of events to take place and thus be spoken about, respecting the place of time in language. Once some vocabulary has been met, reading is introduced through the wall charts. These present in a clear, logical and simple form what is in fact a highly complex analysis of the structure of words and their pronunciation. The vocabulary provided on the word charts is adequate for a multitude of different situations because the charts give a large proportion of the most common and useful words in each of the languages concerned.

This enables a wide range of different sentences to be produced by selecting with a pointer particular words in appropriate sentences. The colouring principle, once discovered or explained, practically ensures correct pronunciation without need for memorising the code. Students do not ever write in colour. The correct use of the pointer with the charts will indicate phrasing, stress, speed, rhythm and intonation. The various language fidels (or phonic code charts) are comprehensive sound-sign analyses. Divided horizontally into two sections, the upper part concerned with vowels, the lower with consonants, these tables list in columns the different ways of spelling the various sounds in a particular language. Once the functional vocabulary has been mastered the fidels provide the opportunity for numerous games which allow the study of the complete set of signs and sounds of the language.

The wall pictures present drawings of everyday life and are for the expansion of vocabulary. They stimulate the introduction of nouns and new verbs which form part of the day-to-day vocabulary of the people speaking the language. This vocabulary which we call semi-luxury, includes food, travel, family life, outings, etc.,. There are accompanying worksheets which require a variety of sensitivities from the learner. The three texts provide graded reading material for individual study by students. The 1000 sentences are grouped roughly by subject. They contain a wealth of information about the geography, customs and social organisation of the land whose tongue is being studied. In the book of short passages, the passages are concerned with human situations or natural incidents, many revealing a deeper meaning than the purely linguistic. Written in a variety of tenses and forms, the separate accounts introduce new vocabulary and idioms. Short Passages will serve as a reader, for providing focal points for discussion as well as starting points for composition. The Eight Tales are enchanting stories written in simple terms, but without restriction on vocabulary.

Kamis, 22 April 2010

The Audiolingual Method

The Audio-Lingual method of teaching had its origins during World War II when it became known as the Army method. It is also called as Aural oral approach. Itis based on the structural view of language and the behaviorist theory of language learning.

The audiolingual approach to language teaching has a lot of similarities with the direct method. Both were considered as a reaction against the shortcomings of the Grammar Translation method, both reject the use of the mother tongue and both stress that speaking and listening competence preceded reading and writing competence. But there are also some differences. The direct method highlighted the teaching of vocabulary while the audiolingual approach focus on grammar drills


The structural view to language is the view behind the audio-lingual method. This approach focused on examining how the elements of language related to each other in the present, that is, ‘synchronically‘ rather than ‘diachronically‘. It was also argued that linguistic signs were composed of two parts, a signifier (the sound pattern of a word) and a signified (the concept or meaning of the word). The study of language aims at describing the performance ,the“parole” as it is the only observable part of language.


Behaviorism is a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that all things which organisms do — including acting, thinking and feeling—can and should be regarded as behaviors. It contends that leaning occurs through associations, habit formation and reinforcement. When the learner produces the desired behavior and is reinforced positively, it is likely that that behavior be emitted again.

The Audiolingual method

The objective of the audiolingual method is accurate pronunciation and grammar, the ability to respond quickly and accurately in speech situations and knowledge of sufficient vocabulary to use with grammar patterns. Particular emphasis was laid on mastering the building blocks of language and learning the rules for combining them. It was believed that learning structure, or grammar was the starting point for the student. Here are some characteristics of the method:

  • language learning is habit-formation,
  • mistakes are bad and should be avoided, as they make bad habits,
  • language skills are learned more effectively if they are presented orally first, then in written form,
  • analogy is a better foundation for language learning than analysis,
  • the meanings of words can be learned only in a linguistic and cultural context.

The main activities include reading aloud dialogues, repetitions of model sentences, and drilling. Key structures from the dialogue serve as the basis for pattern drills of different kinds. Lessons in the classroom focus on the correct imitation of the teacher by the students. Not only are the students expected to produce the correct output, but attention is also paid to correct pronunciation. Although correct grammar is expected in usage, no explicit grammatical instruction is given. It is taught inductively. Furthermore, the target language is the only language to be used in the classroom.


  • It aims at devoloping listening and speaking skills which is a step away from the Grammar translation method
  • The use of visual aids has proven its effectiveness in vocabulary teaching.


  • The method is based on false assumptions about language. The study of language doesn’t amount to studying the “parole”, the observable data. Mastering a language relies on acquiring the rules underlying language performance. That is, the linguistic, sociolinguistic, and discource competences.
  • The beaviorist approach to learning is now descridited. Many scholars have proven its weakness. Noam Chomsky ( “Chomsky, Noam (1959). “A Review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior”) has written a strong criticism of the principles of the theory.

Direct Method

The Direct Method is the learning of language in a relevant setting. This method has one basic rule and that is that no translation is allowed. The meaning of the name "Direct Method" comes from the fact that meaning is to be conveyed directly into the second language through demonstration and visual aids.

The main principles of the Direct Method are as follows:

  • German is not used in the classroom.
  • The learner is actively involved in using the language in realistic everyday situations.
  • Students are encouraged to think in the target language.
  • Speaking is taught first before reading or writing.
  • Only everyday vocabulary and sentences are taught.
  • Concrete vocabulary is taught through demonstration, objects, and pictures.
  • Abstract vocabulary is taught by association of ideas.
  • This method states that the printed word should be kept away from the second language learner for as long as possible
Strategies for Teaching

1. Q & A: The teacher asks questions of any nature and the students answer. In preparation for this activity the teacher models, extensively, the use of complete answers to questions. Once doing this activity the teacher expects full sentences as answers to each question. Students can also be given the opportunity to ask the questions.
Objective: Experiment with words and sentence patterns to create interest and variety.

2. Dictation: The teacher chooses a grade appropriate passage from a book and reads the text aloud three times. The first time the passage is read the students only listen. The second time the passage is read it is read phrase by phrase, with the teacher pausing long enough for students to write down what they have heard. The third time the text is read, it is read at normal speed and the students check their work.

Objective: Listen attentively, courteously, and purposefully to a range of texts from a variety of cultural traditions for pleasure and information.

3. Reading Aloud: Students take turns reading sections of a passage, play, or dialog out loud. At the end of each student's turn the teacher uses gestures, pictures, examples, or role play to help the students make meaning of the text.

Objective: Orally and silently read a range of contemporary and classical grade appropriate texts for enjoyment and information.

4. Getting Students to Self-Correct: The teacher when provided with the opportunity should have the students self-correct by offering them a choice between what they said and the proper pronunciation. For example if the student says, "I have cree apples," the teacher should say, "Do you have cree apples or three apples?"

Objective: Reflect on speaking behaviors and strategies.

5. Map Drawing: Students are provided with a blank map of Canada. The teacher gives specific instructions to the students. Once they are finished, their map will be completely labeled. The teacher takes the same map on an overhead and the students give the teacher instructions on how to label the map.
Objectives: Listen purposefully to determine the main ideas and important details; use language appropriate to audience, purpose, and situation.

Rabu, 21 April 2010

TEFL methodology - A brief history

English language teaching has been subjected to a tremendous change, over the last few decades. Perhaps more than other disciplines, English has evolved in classrooms around the world, while the methodology of teaching Maths or Physics has, to a large extent, remained the same. There are some milestones which chart the journey in the development of teaching English through recent history.

Classical Method (The Grammar Translation Method)

In the Western world, from the 17th to the 19th century, foreign language learning available was generally Latin or Greek. Both supposed to promote the intellect of the speaker, over and above offering communicative benefits. At the time, importance was placed on grammatical rules; syntactic structures; memorising vocabulary and translation of literary texts. There was no provision for the oral use of the languages. Late in the nineteenth century, the Classical Method came to be known as the Grammar Translation Method.

The Grammar Translation Method is still one of the most popular models of language teaching, and has been rather impervious to educational reforms, remaining a practiced methodology in the mainstream. With hindsight, we could say that its contribution to language learning has been limited, doing nothing to enhance a student's communicative ability in the foreign language.

The Direct Method

The last two decades of the nineteenth century ushered in a new age. In The Art of Learning and Studying Foreign Languages (1880), Francois Gouin described his "harrowing" experiences of learning German, which helped him gain insights into the intricacies of language teaching and learning. Living in Hamburg for one year, he attempted to master the German language, first by memorising a German grammar book and a list of the 248 irregular German verbs, without interacting with the locals. When this failed to yield ability in the language, he went so far as to memorise books, and learn by heart 30,000 words in a dictionary, only to meet with failure.

"But alas! In vain did I strain my ears; in vain my eye strove to interpret the slightest movements of the lips of the professor; in vain I passed from the first classroom to a second; not a word, not a single word would penetrate to my understanding."

He had, in no uncertain terms, completely and utterly failed in his effort.

Upon returning to France, Gouin discovered that his three-year-old nephew had managed to become a chatterbox in French - a fact that got him thinking. He began observing his nephew and came to the conclusion that language learning is a matter of transforming perceptions into conceptions and then using language to represent these conceptions. Equipped with this knowledge, he set about devising a new methodology. It was against this background that the Series Method was created, which taught learners a series of connected sentences that are easy to understand. For instance:

I stretch out my arm. I take hold of the handle. I turn the handle. I open the door....

Nevertheless, this approach to language learning was short-lived and, only a generation later, gave place to the "Direct Method", posited by Charles Berlitz. The basic tenet of Berlitz's method was that second language learning is similar to first language learning. In this light, there should be lots of oral interaction, spontaneous use of the language, no translation, and little if any analysis of grammar rules and syntax. In short, with instruction conducted in the target language and an inductive approach to grammar, the method attempted to emulate language acquisition that children go through when learning a language for the first time.

The Direct Method enjoyed great popularity at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth but it was difficult to use, mainly because of the constraints of budget, time, and classroom size. Yet, after a period of decline, this method was revived, leading to the emergence of the Audiolingual Method.

The Audiolingual Method

The outbreak of World War II instigated the need for Americans to become orally proficient in the languages of their allies and enemies alike. To this end, elements of the Direct Method were appropriated in order to form and support a new method, the Army Method, later becoming known as the Audiolingual Method.

Its foundation was based on psychology and linguistic theory, whilst drawing on scientific analysis of a number of languages conducted by American linguists such as Leonard Bloomfield. Conditioning and habit-forming models of learning put forward by behaviorist psychologists were married with pattern practices and repetition drills giving rise to the Audiolingual Method. The following points sum up the characteristics of the method:

• Mimicry and memorisation of set phrases
• Structural patterns taught by repetitive drills
• Grammar taught inductively by situation
• Vocabulary learnt in context
• Use of tapes and visual aids
• Focus on pronunciation
• Enforcement of correct responses

Its popularity waned after 1964, partly because of a critique by Wilga Rivers's (in her book - The psychologist and the foreign language teacher) exposing its shortcomings. It fell short of promoting communicative ability and later studies showed that it deprived students of developing ways of processing new language information in their own minds. It also limited the role of context, culture and world knowledge. Ultimately, it had been discovered that language was not simply acquired through a process of habit formation alone and errors were not necessarily bad or pernicious when attempting to gain communicative ability. Today, elements of this method can be used sparingly to reinforce concepts.

The "Designer" Methods of the 1970s

The Chomskyan revolution - coined after Noam Chomsky, the American Linguist and philosopher - drew the attention of linguists and language teachers to the deep structure of language, while psychologists took account of the affective and interpersonal nature of learning. As a result, new methods were proposed, which attempted to capitalise on the importance of psychological factors in language learning. David Nunan, the Australian linguist, referred to these methods as designer methods.

Suggestopedia promised great results harnessing our subconscious brain power and inner capacities. Lozanov, in 1979, believed that we are capable of learning much more than we think. Drawing upon Soviet psychological research on yoga and extrasensory perception, he came up with a method for learning that used relaxation as a means of absorbing and retaining new knowledge and material. Music played a pivotal role in his method. Lozanov and his followers presented vocabulary, readings, role-plays and drama with classical music in the background and comfortable seating. In this way, students became "suggestible".

Of course, suggestopedia offered valuable insights into the super-learning powers of our brain but it was discredited on several fronts. For starters, often classrooms are bereft of such amenities as comfortable seats and music players! Certainly, this method is insightful and constructive and can be practiced from time to time, without necessarily having to adhere to all its premises. This method reinforced the belief that a relaxed mind is receptive.

The Silent Way is characterised by a problem-solving approach to learning. Gattegno, in 1972, propounded that it is in learners' best interests to develop independence and autonomy whilst cooperating with one another in solving language problems. The teacher is supposed to be silent - hence the name- and must disengage himself of the tendency to explain everything. This methodology came in for an onslaught of criticism. It was considered harsh and not conducive to learning, as the teacher was distant. That said, there is something to be taken from independence and cooperation between learners that The Silent Way promoted.

Community Language Learning (CLL) is an approach in which students and teacher work together to develop the aspects of a language they would like to learn. The teacher acts as a counsellor, while the learner acts as a kind of patient being guided through established stages of development. There are 5 main stages in CLL:

• Birth stage: a feeling of security and belonging is established
• As the learner's abilities improve, a measure of independence is achieved
• Learners start to speak independently
• The learners are secure enough to take criticism and correction
• The child becomes an "adult" and becomes proficient in the language

Total Physical Response (TPR) is based on the premise that the human brain has a biological program for acquiring language. The process is visible when we observe how babies internalise their first language. Initially, communication appears to be one-way with parents making statements that with time solicit reactions. These "conversations" continue for many months before the youngster utters anything intelligible. Silently, the infant is imprinting a linguistic map of how the language works; internalising and decoding the patterns and sounds of the target language. Speaking appears spontaneously and improves gradually to the level of a native speaker. The main principle of this process being:

• The infant responds physically to the speech of the parent
• The responses are in turn positively reinforced by the speech of the parent

With TPR, the language teacher tries to mimic this process in class. Activities may include a simple game such as Simon Says or may involve more complex grammar and more detailed scenarios. TPR has gained significant respect for its adaptability when used in mixed ability groups and for learners with disabilities. It can be used as a basis for sound activities that students will enjoy due to the physical aspect. It should be mentioned that TPR has come in for some criticism for limiting creativity of the learner and being very command driven, with heavy emphasis on imperative speaking. That said, this approach used sparingly, can form part of a rounded and eclectic approach to language teaching.

Communicative Language Teaching

The increasing importance placed on communication within teaching has seen rise to the emergence of Communicative Language Teaching. Through the ages of research and experimentation, we have reached a point where teachers and facilitators are now better equipped to teach language through actual engagement in the language. It should also be noted that Communicative Language Teaching is not a method on its own; it is an approach, which transcends the boundaries of established methods and techniques. The main principles of this approach include:

• Focus on all of the components of communicative competence
• Meaningful engagement in pragmatic, functional use of language
• Accuracy and fluency enforced as complementary notions
• Using the language in unrehearsed "real-life" contexts

TEFL methodology practiced today resides firmly within The Communicative Approach, drawing on the successes of the last century's stockpile of research and experimentation. Using the Communicative framework, one can develop activities and assignments which engage the learner in meaningful use of the target language. Activities are designed to target the various elements of language - listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar - and tuned to the needs of the learner or group. Much has been written in the last 30 years on facilitating an EFL environment, but ultimately what you do with TEFL is limited only by your creativity. The vast array of internet-based resources for TEFL teachers is testament to the prolific nature of TEFL and the creativity it has inspired, along with a cooperative approach to sharing ideas and resources. Communities of ex-patriot teachers now reside semi-permanently in many cities of the East and are found in increasing numbers in a growing number of cities worldwide. This also offers a support network for those venturing overseas for the first time. That said, it is essential to gain a good insight and practice of the methods employed before venturing into the classroom for the first time.

Jumat, 26 Maret 2010

What is a language learning approach?

What is a language learning approach?


A language learning approach consists of the following three elements:

  • views about the nature of language
  • beliefs about language learning, and
  • ideas about how the above should be applied practically to language learning and teaching.


Richard and Rogers (1986) cite the following examples of approaches:

  • The Oral Approach
  • The Structural Approach
  • The Natural Approach

What is a language learning method?


A language learning method is an overall plan for learning a second language, based on the theoretical approach selected. It involves the design of a syllabus for the course, which in turn consists of learning objectives and techniques for achieving those objectives.


There is often confusion among the terms,approach , method, and technique. These three terms may be viewed as points along a continuum from the theoretical (approach), in which basic beliefs about language and learning are considered, to design (method) in which a practical plan for teaching (or learning) a language is considered, to the details (technique) where the actual learning activity takes place.

Some language learning courses use basically only one technique. These courses could be said to be based on methods such as the Language Learning Cycle, Total Physical Response, or Suggestopedia. More commonly these days a variety of techniques are combined, so the term method is not used in the same sense. Furthermore, some people use the term method interchangeably with technique.


The following are examples of language learning methods:

  • The Language Learning Cycle
  • Total Physical Response
  • Suggestopedia
  • Counseling Learning
  • Direct Method

What is a language learning technique?


A language-learning technique is an explicit procedure or strategem used to accomplish a particular learning objective or set of objectives.

Index of techniques

Techniques for improving pronunciation

Techniques for developing grammatical accuracy

Index to grammatical structures you can learn through comprehension techniques

Techniques for building vocabulary

Techniques for learning discourse structures

Techniques for practicing communicative functions

Techniques for learning appropriate varieties

Techniques for learning interactional skills

Techniques for building cultural understanding

Techniques for self-directed language learners

The Comprehension Building techniques

The Audio Archive technique

The Look and Listen techniques

The Illustrated Dictionary or Picture Book technique

Example: The Illustrated Dictionary or Picture Book technique

The Photo Book technique

The Picture Book Plus Recordings technique

The Picture Cues technique

Example: The Picture Cues technique

The Picture Descriptions technique

Example: The Picture Descriptions technique

The Dialogue Strip technique

Example: Illustrating a greeting exchange

The Physical Response techniques

The Listen and Do technique

Example: How to use the Listen and Do technique

The Following Spoken Directions technique

Example: Following Spoken Directions

Introducing and Expanding Material

The Predictable Text techniques

The Bilingual Reading technique

Example: The Bilingual Reading technique

The Familiar Stories technique

Example: The Familiar Stories technique

The Shared Experiences technique

Example: The Shared Experiences technique

The Dumb-Smart Question technique

Example: The Dumb-Smart Question technique

The Culture Exploration techniques

The Interview techniques