Language Teaching Methods

The most extraordinary thing about a really good teacher is that he or she transcends accepted educational methods
— Margaret Mead (1901-1978) American cultural anthropologist

Over the years various methods have been used to teach language. They tend to come and go, like fashion. They have their fanatics, and their detractors. In truth, since teachers do not teach but learners learn, no single method is adequate to the task of helping learners become autonomous. Each method has valuable techniques that may be used at the appropriate moment. An understanding of multiple teaching methods better equips the teacher to serve the learner. In this section we look at some of the better-known methods and approaches.

MT = mother tongue. TL = target language (the language being learned)

1780s The Grammar-Translation Method

1890s The Direct Method

1950s The Audiolingual Method

1970s Total Physical Response

1970s The Silent Way

1970s Suggestopedia

1970s Community Language Learning

1980s Communicative Language Teaching

Note that a section on the so-called "post-method era" will follow.


References:

  • APR Howatt with HG Widdowson "A History of English Language Teaching" second edition Oxford University Press 2004
  • Jack C Richards and Theodore S Rodgers "Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching" third edition Cambridge University Press 2014
  • Scott Thornbury "An A—Z of ELT" Macmillan Education 2006
  • Jack C Richards and Richard Schmidt "Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics" fourth edition Pearson Education 2010
  • Diane Larsen-Freeman and Marti Anderson "Techniques & Principles in Language Teaching" Oxford University Press 2011
  • Jeremy Harmer "The Practice of English Language Teaching" fourth edition Pearson Longman ELT 2007