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Biplob Prodhan
  • 2 months ago
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Give a historical overview of language teaching methods.


Ans. From the beginning of the 20th century, researchers started to explore newer methods and approaches to language teaching. Previously, the Grammar-Translation Method, also known as the Classical Method, was used to teach ancient languages, such as Latin and Greek. Later, people wanted to read literature of other languages, and they needed to know the grammatical rules and vocabulary of the target language. With that in mind, teachers followed the GTM to teach students. Learners learned grammatical rules extensively so that they could understand the literary pieces of the language. Knowing a foreign language was considered prestigious. Later on, in the 1920s and 1930s, emphasis was given on teaching the target language by using Direct Method. This method suggested teaching a language by using that language all through. It never followed translation to teach a language. DM suggests use of realia and visuals to teach the target language. The medium of classroom communication should also be the target language. The other name of DM is the Natural Method.

After the end of the Second World War, there emerged another method, which was named the Audio-Lingual Method. In this method, learners were exposed to listening activities so that they could understand how language should be used at different contexts Audios and videos in the target language were used extensively as teaching materials. In the 1960s, the Silent Way emerged that was proposed by Noam Chomsky (1965). He argued that people could learn a language by using their LADS (Language Acquisition device). According to him, mistakes in using a language are a sign of active engagement in the process. This method is inspired by the theory of cognitive approach (Chomsky, 1965) where teaching was meant “to serve” (Freeman, 2000; p. 54) learning. In line with the Silent Way, Georgi Lozanov (1979) proposed that learners usually fear the use of the target language, which is why they cannot perform well. The method is called Desuggestopidea. He suggests that teachers need to help learners get rid of the mental pressure that they may suffer from in using the target language. In the late 1970s and through 1980s, the Communicative Language Teaching Method and Total Physical Response method emerged. CLT suggests designing a syllabus, materials, tasks and activities in order to develop real life communicative skills of learners. Similarly, TPR suggests learning language by doing it. It means students would be physically responding to the instructions teachers would give. Then, in the 1990s and 2000s, researches focused on content-based and task- based language teaching methods. Through these methods, learners do not learn a language to use it; rather, they use the target language to learn something (a content), or to complete a task (collecting school garbage). In both the situations, learners are provided with a situation where the target language is in use. After Gardner introduced the concept of Multiple Intelligence, the perspective to all the methods shifted. In this post-method era, it is believed that teachers need to consider all the methods and make their own to fulfil the needs of their local students.

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Biplob Prodhan
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