History Of English Language Teaching English Language Essay

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Today, English is the worlds most widely studied foreign language. Five hundred years ago, Latin was the most dominant language to be studied because it was the language of business, commerce and education in the western world. In the sixteenth century, however, French, Italian and English gain in importance as a result of political change in Europe and Latin gradually became displaced as a language of spoken and written communication (Richards and Rodgers, 2001).

Latin became a dead language. It was being started to read in the books as classic language. Children started to enter in the 'grammar school' in sixteenth and eighteenth centuries to learn grammar rules of Latin. To learn Latin language became a "mental gymnastic". In the eighteenth century, when modern languages began to enter in the curriculum of the European countries, these languages were taught by the same methods as Latin language was taught. Grammatical rules were memorized. Written practices were done. The passages were translated from the second language to the first language and vice versa (ibid).

By the nineteenth century, this method was considered as a standard method of teaching language. The textbooks were divided into chapters. Each chapter contained a certain grammatical rule and rule was practices with a lot of written exercises (ibid).

Methods and Approaches of English Language Teaching

According to Asher and James (1982), Methods are the combination of techniques that are used and plasticized by the teachers in the classrooms in order to teach their students and approaches are the philosophies of teachers about language teaching that can be applied in the classrooms by using different techniques of language teaching. For example, if a teacher has an approach that language is the communication and learning a language is in fact learning the meanings, functions and uses of language. So the techniques will be based on the communicative language teaching and task based methods.

According to Freeman (2000), Methods which are taught to the teachers make a base and give them thinking about the applicable techniques and principles according to the situation where they stand. They are clear about their attraction towards certain methods and also think that why have they repelled certain method. The knowledge of method is very necessary because their knowledge is base of teaching.

Grammar Translation Method

Grammar translation method was the most popular and widely used method for language teaching between the ages of 1840 to 1940. But this method was first used for teaching and learning Latin language which was not the language of common use at that time. Latin was considered as a classic language. The learners were made able to study the literature of Latin language through learning the grammatical rules of language and learning the vocabulary so that learners may translate the language in their first language and in the second language. Grammar translation method was criticized intensively in the nineteenth century because it was considered that this method cannot fulfill the demands of language learning in nineteenth century.

Direct Method

The direct method was the outcome of the reaction against the grammar translation method. It was based on the assumption that the learners of foreign and second language should directly think in English. This method is against the translation of written and oral text and focuses on telling the meanings of the words through action, demonstration or real objects. This method focuses on directly thinking, doing discussion and conversation in second language (Richards and Rodgers, 2001).

Purwarno (2006) described the aims of the direct method. He described that direct method is an attempt and effort to form a link between thought and expression and between experience and language.

Direct method was criticized due to the following reasons:

Direct method is successful in private language schools because this method can be applied only in small classes where all the learners can get individual attention.

In Direct method, the teachers extravagantly excel in keeping the mother tongue of the learners away from them.

Direct method demands the learners to do oral communication in the second language and it also demands the pronunciation and accent to be just like the native speakers so there is need for the language school to hire the native speakers which actually can be very expensive.

The success of the direct method depends on the teacher's skills and personality more than on the methodology (Richards and Rodgers, 1986).

Structural Approach

The structural approach mainly employs the techniques of the direct method but the reading and writing skills are not wholly neglected. The structural approach is based on the sound principles of language learning. The structural approach says that the arrangement of the words in such a way as to form a suitable pattern and that pattern may make the meanings of the language clear to us. Any language has its own structure and skeleton which gives this language a decent appearance. A structure is a pattern and a particular arrangement of words which to indicate grammatical meanings. It may be a word, a phrase or a sentence (Gauridushi, 2011).

Structural approach was criticized because it was only suitable for lower grades. Continuous teaching of structures and their repetition make the atmosphere dull and boring. It also neglected the reading and writing abilities and there was also a lack of skilled teachers (Sharma, 2011).

Oral Approach/ Situational Language Teaching

The oral approach is a method in which children to use whatever hearing they get from their surroundings. They also take help from the context to understand and use language. The target is to develop the skills in the individual so that he can communicate and function independently. This approach helps in the development of reading and writing skills (Richards and Rodgers, 2001).

The oral approach was developed from 1930s to the 1960s by British applied linguistics such as Harold Palmer and A.S. Hornsby. The main difference between oral approach and the direct method was that the methods which were developed under this approach had theoretical principles about the selection, grading and presentation of the content and material. This sequencing of the content would lead to better learning with a good knowledge of vocabulary and grammatical patterns. In this approach all the points of language were to be presented in "situations" which led to the second name of the approach i.e. situational language teaching. Although, the teachers are not aware of this approach today but it had long lasting impact on language learning. However, its focus on oral practice, grammar and sentence patterns is still supported by the teachers (ibid).

Audiolingual Method

Audiolingual method is also known as 'Army Method' because after the outbreak of World War II, the army soldiers decided to be proficient in the languages of their enemies. So a new learning method of foreign languages was discovered which is known as audiolingual method. This method is based on a linguistic theory and behavioral psychology. The audiolingual method was widely used in the 1950s and 1960s and the emphasis was not on the understanding of the words rather on acquisition of structures and patterns in common everyday dialogues (Richards and Rodgers, 2001).

The teaching of the oral skills with accurate pronunciation, grammar and the ability to respond quickly and accurately is the main objective of audiolingual method. Reading and writing skills may be taught but they are dependent on the oral skills (Richard and Rodgers, 1986).

Total Physical Response

In Total Physical Response (TPR), the teacher gives the students instructions and the students follow the instructions by using whole body responses. James J. Asher, a professor, of psychology at San Jose State University developed the method Total Physical Response in late 1960s to help in learning second languages (Richards and Rodgers, 2001).

According to Asher (1977), "TPR is based on the premise that the human brain has a biological program for acquiring any natural language on earth including the sign language of the deaf". We can see this process if we observe the language learning process of an infant. The communication between parents and the child consists of both verbal and physical aspects. When the child is not able to speak, at the time he/she is internalizing the language. This is the time when code breaking occurs. After this process the child becomes able to speak and reproduce language. In TPR, the teacher repeats the process in the class. Students respond to the commands of the teacher which require physical movement. TPR is most useful for beginners. TPR is also used for teaching students with dyslexia or related learning disabilities.

Silent Way

Silent way is the method of language teaching which was proposed by Caleb Gattegno. This method is based on the view that the teachers should be silent in the classroom as much as possible but the teacher must encourage the students to speak and use the language. The most important aspect of this method is its elements that are used for language teaching i.e. colored charts and colored rods (Richards and Rodgers, 2001).

This method focuses on the learners to discover on their own rather than they remember or memorize something. The learners are facilitated in learning by giving them some problem to solve which involves the materials that are needed to be learnt (ibid).

Communicative Language Teaching

Communicative language teaching was developed in the era of revolutions in British language teaching traditions from late 1960s. Before communicative language teaching, situational language teaching was in practice in Britain for language teaching. Communicative language teaching was actually developed in the opposition of audiolingual method which focuses on drilling and memorization. Communicative language teaching focuses on developing the ability of communication in learners in real life situations. It focuses on meaning rather than accuracy (Richards and Rodgers, 2001).

Natural Approach

In 1977, Tracey Terrell proposed the natural approach of language teaching. This approach was influenced by Stephen Krashen's theory of language acquisition. The natural approach focuses on communication as the major function of language. In this approach, language is considered as the vehicle or means of conveying a message and information. The natural approach was actually based on the observation and understanding of the acquisition of the first and the second language in informal settings (Richards and Rodgers, 2001).

Task-based Language Teaching

Task- based language teaching is an approach that is based on the assumption that tasks are the major unit of language learning. This approach is based on the problem solving view that the learners should be given some tasks to be solved. These tasks are related to the language structures that are required to be learnt. The learners interact and communicate with each other during solving these problems. In these way, they learn the language (Richards and Rodgers, 2001).

Comparison between Grammar Translation Method and Communicative Language Teaching

Grammar Translation Method

Grammar translation method was first known in the United States as Prussian Method. Grammar translation method dominated European and foreign language teaching from 1840 to 1940.

Characteristics of grammar translation method.

According to the Richards and Rodgers (2001), the principle characteristics of Grammar Translation Method are:

In Grammar Translation Method, the goal of learning a second or foreign language is mainly to be enabling to read the literature of that language and is to get benefit from intellectual development that results from foreign and second language study. Grammar Translation Method enables to learn detailed grammatical rules of target language and enables to translate into and out of the target language.

In Grammar Translation Method, reading and writing skills are focused while listening and speaking skills are totally ignored.

In Grammar Translation Method, the memorization of grammatical rules of foreign language and of the vocabulary items is focused. Vocabulary items are limited to the text that they are taught. Vocabulary items are memorized with the help of their meanings in the native language.

In Grammar Translation Method, sentenced is the basic unit of teaching and language practice. The learners are enabled to do detailed analysis of a sentence through this method. The learners are enabled to translate a sentence into and out of the target language.

In Grammar Translation Method, accuracy is emphasized rather than fluency. The basic purpose of this method used to be able to pass the written examinations.

In Grammar Translation Method, grammar is taught deductively i.e. by presenting and practicing the detailed grammatical rules of target language. A syllabus of grammatical rules if followed in which rules are systematically put in to a sequence starting from the simple rules to the complex rules.

In Grammar Translation Method, students are directed and instructions are given in the student's native language so that they may easily understand the instructions. The students' native language is used to explain new items and to enable them to compare two languages i.e. native language of the learners and foreign language.

Main techniques associated with grammar translation method.

There are some major techniques that are adopted in the teaching of second or foreign language through Grammar Translation Method.

Translation of a literary passage. Students translate a reading passage into and out of the target language. In checking of the translation, the focus of the teacher is on vocabulary and grammatical structures. The translation may be written or spoken or both. Students should not translate idioms but must understand their meanings.

Reading Comprehension Questions. A passage for reading and understanding is given to the students and they have to answer the questions given at the end of the passage in the target language. The questions are put into a sequence. The first group of questions is related with the information drawn from the passage, second group of questions require students to make inferences based on their understanding of the passage. The third group of questions requires students to relate the passage with their own experiences.

Antonym and synonyms. Students are given a list of words and a passage. The students have to find out the antonyms of those words in the passage. Similarly, the students can also be given a list of words and can be asked to find out the synonyms of the given words from the passage.

Deductive application of rules. Grammar rules are presented before the students with the all possible information that can be given to the students relating to the grammatical rules. The rules are also explained with examples. Once students understand a rule, they are asked to apply it for some different examples.

Fill in the blanks. The students are given a series of sentences with some missing words. The students have to fill in the blanks with some suitable grammar items such a preposition and verbs with different tenses

Memorization. The students are given a list of vocabulary to memorize them with their meaning in the native language. Students are also required to memorize the grammatical rules.

Use words in sentences. In order to check the understanding of the meaning and sue of vocabulary, the students are asked to use the list of typical words in their own sentences.

Composition. The teacher gives a topic to the students to write about that topic in the target language. The topic is based on some aspect of the reading passage of the lesson (Freeman, 1986).

Advantages of grammar translation method.

Nazir (2002) narrated as "The structure of a foreign language is best learnt when compare and contrasted with that of the mother tongue."

According to Ishtiaq (2005), the Grammar Translation Method is based on a system and is in a sequence because in this method all the grammatical rules are arranged into a sequence for the convenience of the students. This sequence starts from the simple rules and eventually leads to the complex rules. When a book is written by an author on grammatical rules keeping in view the sequence, he writes one lesson that is completely based on one rule of grammar. Each lesson is divided into certain rules and these rules dominate the lesson.

Larson (1986) narrated importance of Grammar Translation Method as "in Grammar Translation Method, students are made to learn new words. Therefore, this method helps in improving vocabulary. Reading and writing are the two primary skills that are developed most so as to enable the students to read the literature in target language. Grammar is taught deductively and it makes use of students' mother language.

Disadvantages of grammar translation method.

Neilson (2003) stated that in Grammar Translation Method, oral skills i.e. speaking and listening skills are totally neglected while the whole attention is given to just reading and writing skills. Through this method, the students become able to read the literature of the target language by translating it into their native language but cannot communicate into the target language and even cannot understand the target language spoken by any native speaker.

In Grammar Translation Method, the authority of the classroom is totally in the hands of the teacher and teacher is at the centre of the classroom. The communication is just from teachers to students not from student to teacher and not even from students to students. The students are considered empty minded which have needed to be filled with all the possible vocabulary and grammatical structures that can be filled in their minds (ibid).

The main disadvantage of the Grammar Translation Method is that it is almost impossible to translate all the phrases and sentences into the target language because the main focus is the translation of this method so such students who have been taught through this method become fail to communicate well in the target language (ibid).

In the Grammar Translation Method, accuracy is emphasized rather than fluency and students go on thinking to accurate the grammatical rules which actually hinder their fluency. In Grammar Translation Method, the teacher abruptly interferes and stops the students wherever they make the mistakes so they become conscious while speaking and communicating in the target language and become unable to be fluent (ibid).

Criticism of the grammar translation method.

There have been various criticisms on the use of Grammar Translation Method for the teaching of modern language particularly English. There are some objections that have been put on the Grammar Translation Method.

Grammar Translation Method emphasizes on the reading and writing skills on the expense of listening and speaking skills. But learning the listening and speaking skills of a language is more important than leaning reading and writing skills because it is a natural way of learning a language. In Grammar Translation Method, writing gives learners a reflective chance to look at their writing that whether they have written correct spellings, vocabulary and grammatical rules. The main aim and goal of most of the learners in learning modern languages is not just to develop reading and writing skills whereas they want to communicate well and understand the native speakers' language.

Grammar Translation Method demands the arrangement of the grammatical rules in a structure starting from the simple rules and leading to the complex rules. While most of the learners especially adult learners want to start using the language straight way because they have not got time to learn all the grammatical rules one by one and start using them after then. Grammar Translation Method emphasizes to make the students learn each rule and practice it one by one and after commanding a rule move to the next one. So there remains the need to revise all the rules again and again so that they may not get washed out of the learners' mind.

In Grammar Translation Method, sentence is the basic unit of the language. The learners are made able to memorize certain rules of grammar and certain vocabulary which they have to fit everywhere they find a chance to use them. But if learners find some unusual situation they become unable to fit their memorized rules to fit in that situation.

In Grammar Translation Method, grammatical rules and vocabulary is memorized in modern ways of teaching a language memorization is not regarded while exposure of a language, experience and use of language is preferred and recommended. People have different learning styles. Some people like to learn vocabulary, grammar rules, phrase and sentences through memorization. But when they have to sue them, they must have time to stop and recall the memorized items.

In Grammar Translation Method, the focus of the learners is the manipulation of the grammatical rules and words to write correct sentences with prescribed content. But in learning the modern languages, it is recommended that the major focus should be more and more on the oral practice and expression of the personal meanings. The expression of the personal meanings may spoil the structure of the grammar rules and sentences.

In Grammar Translation Method, the teachers and the learners mostly speak in their first language or native language. While it is highly recommended that use of second and target language should be maximized in learning the language but here maximization does not mean teachers and learners should all the time speak in the target language. The speaking of the second language is also advantageous because in language classrooms we may also have multilingual learners that may belong to different languages so a single language i.e. second or target language will be convenient to use without pointing a single native language.

In Grammar Translation Method, teacher should explain, describe the grammatical rules, tell the meanings of the words, translate the passages, conduct grammar practices, correct mistakes and teacher should authorized the classroom and learners. But now it is highly recommended that teachers role in the class should be as a guide and facilitator. Teacher's role in the language classroom should be less. Teacher should act behind the scene. Teacher should give the problems to the learners to solve, interact among each other and generally it leads the learners to be independent learners.

In Grammar Translation Method, translation is the basic technique. Translation is a way of understanding the meanings of the written and oral texts by converting the texts into the first or native language of the learners. Translation is a way of comparing and contrasting two languages i.e. first language and second language. But now it is highly recommended that translation should be avoided because it leads to such a mental process which hinders or stops learning. The learners should be encouraged to speak and even think in second language as much as possible.

In Grammar Translation Method, accuracy is emphasized rather than fluency but it is now highly recommended that accuracy should come at the last and fluency should preferred first. If the learners are corrected on their mistakes from the very beginning, they will become hesitant to speak in the target language. When they will start to speak, their minds will abruptly become read to look upon the grammatical rules that they are using so I this way they will become unable to be fluent in language (Jonathan, 2012).

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