Approaches with reference to their Meaning, Focus, Principles, Techniques, Advantages and Limitations (1)

Teachers and ways of Teaching
Teachers have always tried to find more effective methods of carrying out their duties. Most teachers use some kind of approach or method as a base. In other words, they do not do things in an erratic (deviating from the usual or proper course in conduct opinion) and unpredictable manner in each class. Instead, they use the same methods in each class and respond in the same manner to ongoing classroom situations.

Teachers may teach the way they do because they are following teachers they once had, or because they have learned from experience, or because they are following a text book, or because they are implementing the suggestions of a training course. In the first two cases, their approach or method may be quite odd & uncommon, especially if they teach in a remote area. In the last two cases, they will most likely use an approach or method similar to that of many other teachers.

Approaches and methods are usually based on fairly strong beliefs about:
- the nature of language
- the nature of language learning
- the nature of teaching

Two hypothetical approaches

(1) Approach X
A language is a set of rules for creating correct sentences. These rules are mentioned in good grammar books for many languages, but not for English. Languages are properly learned by learning new rules and applying them when creating sentences in writing or speech. 

One of the most successful method to learn a foreign language is to translate backwards and forwards between that language and one's L1, taking care not to confuse the rules of the two languages. Intelligent, hardworking individuals learn foreign languages faster and better than others.

(2) Approach Y
A language is a communication system in which linguistic forms and structures give messages and intentions in specific situations and scenarios. Languages differ in formal and informal styles, as well as regional and social accents. Languages are learned by hearing them used in communication and then using them. 

Formal foreign language study (for example, learning new rules and drilling) is usually unsuccessful. We must use the language in real communication and go through a slow, subconscious process, making many mistakes. Anyone who is motivated and is in the right environment can learn a foreign language.

Each of these two approaches has different implications for teaching. An approach provides teachers with direction, but it may not provide many details about what and how to teach. This is the reality of methods.

A method is based on a strong approach 
- a theory of language and 
- language learning 
but it goes into more detail such as the syllabus, learning activities, and teaching techniques. Different methods may use essentially the same approach. Some methods or their creators are quite strict about what teachers should and should not do. Many educational institutions wish to build a general approach but not define a particular method, allowing for a lot of flexibility in the classroom, including the freedom to experiment.

Others chose to strictly control what happens in the classroom, with a well-defined method and focused teacher training in that method.

A survey of approaches and methods
Approaches and methods for teaching English can be seen as as a historical series of revolutions and adaptions, as well as as a growing variety of teaching options. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, new ideas and information from linguistics (grammatical rules), psychology, and pedagogy have surely meant that foreign language teaching has developed. We should be teaching better now than we were in 1850. 

However, new approaches and methods have never entirely ignored or replaced previous ones, despite the belief of some new method inventors that Old Method X was completely incorrect and their New Method Y is totally successful.

Inspite of what the creators of new methods say, many teachers continue to use activities and techniques that have passed out of fashion. This is sometimes due to ignorance rather than educated professional judgement. 

Other teachers, who are well-trained and informed, take ideas from unfashionable methods because they appear to be suitable for their own teaching-learning situation. This is termed to as eclecticism (to mix different historical styles with modern elements). 

Many English teaching professionals believe that eclectic approaches, based on well-informed views of the nature of language, language learning, and language teaching, as well as a thorough analysis of the specific teaching-learning situation, are the best.

The historical sequence of the main approaches and methods, and therefore some of the main methodological options available today, is presented in Figure below.
Historical Sequence of the main Approaches and Methods

The key areas focused on in the guideline of the approaches and methods that follow are their:
- view of language
- view of language learning
- view of the roles of the teacher
- view of the roles of the learners
- typical teaching-learning activities.

(1) The Grammar-translation Method
(2) The Direct Method
(3) Situational Language Teaching

(1) The Grammar-translation Method
When living languages became widely taught in the nineteenth century, this method appeared from the traditional teaching of historical Latin and Greek. It was the major means until the end of the century and has been used in some form or another up to the present day. However, it has long been 'out of style.' It shares many similarities with the previous Approach X.

Languages are seen as as rule-based systems for creating correct sentences. Writing is regarded as the superior form of language. Languages are thought to be best learned by learning new rules and using bilingual vocabulary words to construct sentences, mostly in writing. Translation is regarded as one of the best ways to practise applying rules as well as converting sentences from, say, Present Tense to Past Tense or Active to Passive. 

The teacher's role is to explain grammar rules and word meanings in the learners' mother tongue, to arrange practise (for example, rule repetition and translation), and to correct students' mistakes. The learners' role is to listen carefully to the teacher's explanations and corrections, learn and remember rules and vocabulary lists, and carefully complete the practise tasks given by the teacher.

(2) The Direct Method
At the end of the nineteenth century, this method developed as a response to the Grammar-translation Method. It was affected by the growing sciences of the nineteenth century, particularly linguistics and psychology. It is very similar to Approach Y.

Languages are seen as as mainly verbal communication systems in which words are used together in sentences and sentences are used together in discussion. Languages are thought to be best learned by hearing words and sentences in context and following what you hear. 

At all costs, the learner's L1 should be avoided, and meaning should be transmitted through showing, drawing, making faces, or displaying things. Asking and answering questions is viewed as one of the most useful areas of practice, with students speaking as much as possible. 

The teacher must play an active role in showing the language, arranging practise, and correcting the students. The learners' role is to listen carefully, try to copy, and participate in as much oral practise of the language as possible.

In spite of the difference between the Direct Method and the Grammar Translation Method, some teachers began to combine elements of both in their teaching, for example, Grammar-translation Method presentation followed by Direct Method practise, or Direct Method presentation and practise followed by a Grammar-translation Method grammar summary. 

Furthermore, at higher levels, these teachers would start handing out the use of the L1 in the classroom. This combination of methods could be seen as as an early form of eclecticism, which still exists today.

(3) Situational Language Teaching
This method was developed by British language teachers who were not entirely happy with the Direct Method in the 1920s and 1930s. It continued to develop until the 1970s. 

It holds many of the same opinions about language and learning as the Direct Method and it was completely against the Grammar Translation Method. Its origins were partly a response to the Direct Method's weaker aspects, and largely a development resulting from theoretical concepts in British language teaching, particularly the idea that language can be properly understood only in the relation to real situations of use.

Situational Language Teaching takes the Direct Method idea of presenting and practising with objects, pictures, and demonstrations by presenting and practising in a single clear situation whenever possible. 

The learners sentences are judged based on their sincerity in relation to the situation at hand. Situations should ideally be realistic, such as shopping or learning to, as well as grammatically correct. 

This type of practise is thought to be better preparation for actual language use than producing situationally unrelated examples of a structure. It is also believed that learners are motivated by interesting or funny situations.

In terms of syllabus design and classroom techniques, the Direct Method fell weak. Situational Language Teaching approaches the selection and scoring of in terms of grammatical rules, beginning with the ones thought to be the substitution tables, and one of the most basic activities in Situational Language Teaching that is the easiest, most common, and most useful. 

These sentence patterns are the foundation of Language Teaching, which is substitution practise in which learners produce many sentences of the same pattern, including questions and answers. 

Oral practise, as in the Direct Method, is the first stage for each new language item and is generally highlighted, but Situational Language Teaching sees reading and writing as having a more important supporting role than the Direct Method.

Alternative methods
Alternative methods refers to several methods and one approach that were developed between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s and were quite impactful, despite never being widely used. In some ways, they can be viewed as products of the search of the perfect method.
(1) Total Physical Response (TPR)
(2) The Silent Way
(3) Suggestopedia

(1) Total Physical Response (TPR)
TPR was invented in the mid-1960s in the United States by James Asher. It is only suitable for beginner courses and must be supported with activities and techniques from other methods later on. Its goals are to improve listening skills before production, to connect language to action, and to reduce stress in language learning. 

It tries to copy typical L1 acquisition features in this manner. Most other methods require learners to speak immediately rather than first providing them with listening practise.

Most other methods, too, connect language with language (for example, model and repetition, question and answer) rather than with action, and they regularly cause a lot of tension in the learners. TPR connects language to action by having students do what the teacher tells them to do.

(2) The Silent Way
Caleb Gattegno created the Silent Way in the early 1970s in the United States. It is completely opposed to TPR. Instead of providing extensive active listening comprehension practise, the teacher remains silent for the majority of the time, providing only single examples of new sentence structures and then asking students to try to reproduce the sentence and produce similar ones.

The method is based on the idea that discovery and problem-solving produce far superior learning than repetition and memorization. To benefit from the method, students must focus and usually struggle a little. Teachers must receive specialised training in order to use Silent Way materials and techniques.

(3) Suggestopedia
Georgi Lozanov in Bulgaria created Suggestopedia in the early 1970s, followed by Jane Bancroft in Canada and others elsewhere. Its primary goal is to make memorization easier. 

Suggestopedia is primarily used in foreign language teaching to help in the memorization of interesting texts in the L2. Learners are given an L1 translation of the texts so that they can understand what they are memorising.

These memorised texts are then used as the basis for other language analysis and practise activities. Relaxing surroundings (for example, pleasant decor and comfortable furniture), relaxing background music, and confident, authoritative reading and behaviour by the teacher all help memory. The beat of the background music should be matched by the teacher's reading of the text to be memorised.

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