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Language teaching methods

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Language teaching methods

The debate concerning language teaching methods has a long tradition. Although there is language teaching in all countries, many countries developed their own language pedagogy.  For many years English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers used the same language pedagogy everywhere namely Communicative Language Teaching. CLT is now the ruling, central paradigm in language teaching, which has shaped the thinking of the teachers. Teachers usually use CLT as a language teaching method; however, I think that this is not the only way to learn a language properly.

First of all, the CLT method neglects the context in which the language teaching takes place. For example, there was a native speaker of English who travelled to Japan. He did not know anything about the culture and their language pedagogy, but he thought that CLT is the only way to teach a language, so it proved him that the other ways of teaching a language are failing (Bax, 2003). I disagree with him because I think if there is an emphasis laid on context, it leads the teachers to a more effective teaching.

Secondly, teachers in the teacher trainings are taught to use methodology and to not to take into account what the context is. A teacher, who did a teacher training course, stated, “The context of things was basically up to the teacher to try and apply the methodology to contexts” (Bax, 2003, p. 282). It is stated, that methodology is only one factor of the successful language learning (Bax, 2003). If a teacher is taught and encouraged to use only the methodology, he or she reduces the chances of the learner in successful language learning. In my opinion, cultural specificity should not be neglected on the teacher training courses. To summarise, teachers should be taught to take context into account.

Thirdly, some people say that

methodology is essential to learning a language, but in my opinion the needs of the students are more important. Many people learn a language properly with other methods in those countries where teachers do not use CLT. There is the perfect example of the teacher who teaches in the Czech Republic, where not CLT is the used language pedagogy, and she did not understand how the students were able to learn to speak English quite well without it.

However, on the other hand I have to assume that CLT is used world-wide, and it seems to be very successful. As Harmer (2003) points out, “Methodology is fundamental to the learning of language classrooms where teachers are working” (p. 24). It is true that teachers have to plan their classes, and they cannot only rely on the context in which the teaching takes place. I do not deny the importance of the CLT, but I think that other approaches may be more successful.

In conclusion, I have to admit that not only CLT is the best solution when learning a language. Teachers have to take into consideration the context in which the language teaching takes place, and they cannot neglect the students’ needs and wishes. As I have mentioned, teachers do not really pay attention to the context because they were taught to use methodology. In short, the needs of the students are substantial, but the students also have to play an active role in their own language learning.

(553 words)

References

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Bax, S. (2003). The end of CLT: a context approach to language teaching. ELT Journal, 57(3), 278-287.

Harmer, J. (2003). Popular culture, methods, and context. ELT Journal, 57(3), 288-294.

Lee, I. (1998). Supporting greater autonomy in language learning. ELT Journal, 52(4), 282-289.


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