According to academic research, linguists have stated that there is not one single best method for everyone in all contexts and that no one teaching method is inherently superior to the others.
Also, it is not always possible – or appropriate – to apply the same methodology to all learners, who have different objectives, environments, and learning needs.
English Teaching Methods
Throughout the history of teaching languages, a number of different approaches or measures of teaching English have been undertaken.
Each teaching method is based on a particular vision of understanding the language or the learning process, often using specific techniques and materials used in a set sequence.
The main methodologies are listed below in the chronological order of their development:
- Grammar Translation – the classical method
- Audio-lingualism – the first modern methodology
- Humanistic Approaches – a range of holistic methods applied to language learning
- Communicative Language Teaching – the modern standard method
- Total physical response (TPR) – involves physically responding to commands or questions
- Eclectic Approach – fitting the method to the learner, not the learner to the method
Also known as the classical method, originated in Germany. Wherever a second language was learned this method was used. A word-to-word translation of English words phrases are to be taught with the help of the mother tongue. With the content of teaching being words not the sentence.
Audio Lingual Method
The Audio Lingual Method otherwise known as the New Key Method or Army Method is based on a behaviorist theory that things are able to be learned by constant reinforcement.
However, just like in the army when someone behaves badly (or in this case bad use of English), the learner receives negative feedback and the contrary happens when a student demonstrates good use of English. This is related to the Direct Method and just like its predecessor it only uses the target language. The biggest difference between the Audio Lingual Method and the Direct Method is its focus of teaching. The Direct Methods focuses on the teaching of vocabulary whereas the Audio. Lingual Method focuses on specific grammar teachings.
Humanistic language teaching is an approach based on the principle that the whole being, emotional and social, needs to be engaged in learning, not just the mind. A teacher always responds to the content of learners’ written work, not just the quality of the language.
This theory and approach in education takes root in humanistic psychology, with the key concepts focusing on the idea that children are good at the core and that education should focus on rational ways to teach the “whole” child. This theory states that the student is the authority on how they learn, and that all of their needs should be met in order for them to learn well. For example, a student who is hungry won’t have as much attention to give to learning. So schools offer meals to students so that their needs are met, and they can focus on education. The humanistic theory approach engages social skills, feelings, intellect, artistic skills, practical skills, and more as part of their education. Self-esteem, goals, and full autonomy are key learning elements in the humanistic learning theory.
Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)
The term “Communicative Language Teaching” (CLT) means different things to different teachers. To some teachers, it simply means a greater emphasis on the use of the target language in the classroom, and in particular, a greater emphasis on orality. The idea behind this approach is to help learners communicate more effectively and correctly in realistic situations that they may find themselves in.
This type of teaching involves focusing on important functions like suggesting, thanking, inviting, complaining, and asking for directions to name but a few. Practicing question forms by asking learners to find out personal information about their colleagues is an example of the communicative approach, as it involves meaningful communication.
Total Physical Response
Total Physical Response, otherwise known as TPR is an approach that follows the idea of ‘learning by doing’. Beginners will learn English through a series of repetitive actions such as “Stand up”, “Open your book”, “Close the door”, and “Walk to the window and open it.” With TPR, the most important skill is aural comprehension and everything else will follow naturally later.
The process mimics the way that infants learn their first language, and it reduces student inhibitions and lowers stress. A great example of group singing with total physical response is the grade school classic, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”. This song is not only fun to sing but incorporates movements that students can remember even if they can’t quite get all the words.
TPR Storytelling is broadly divided into three steps, with each being regarded as essential for a successful program:
1. Step one: establish meaning. In this step the students are introduced to the new vocabulary phrases for the lesson
2. Step two: spoken class story
3. Step three: reading
TPR is not just limited to whole body commands such as walking, turning around, and pointing to your nose. In fact, there are four major types of activities that can be done using the TPR mindset. I like to refer to them as TPR-B, TPR-O, TPR-P, and TPRS.
Eclectic approach is a method of language education that combines various approaches and methodologies to teach language depending on the aims of the lesson and the abilities of the learners. Different teaching methods are borrowed and adapted to suit the requirements of the learners.
The eclectic method has a wider horizon of thought and also a wider application area when compared to other methods. Therefore; this method is very popular among the teachers and a wider application area has been found today. However, teachers applying this method should be very knowledgeable, know all the methods, and learn linguistics and psychology. Otherwise, they will not be able to decide which aspects of the methods are good, which ones are inadequate and will not be able to choose the method most convenient for them. The eclectic method is far more than a method; it is the method selection technique. In order for a new method to be formed, it is necessary to combine the information after the selection step, that is, synthesis. Moreover; each teacher choosing a method according to his/her own way leads to confusion in institutions where there are many teachers. In this case, all teachers need to come together and choose the best methods or methods they find useful and they also need to synthesize a new synthesis.
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