Here are some articles about the major language teaching methods and approaches.
Dogme is a communicative approach to language teaching that was initiated by Scott Thornbury in his article, "A Dogma for EFL". Dogme advocates a kind of teaching that doesn't rely on published textbooks but relies on conversational communication that occurs in the classroom between teachers and students. The name of the approach comes from an analogy to the Danish Dogme 95 film movement which intended to "cleans cinema of an obsessive concern for technique and rehabilitate cinema which foregrounded the story and the inner life of characters." According to Scott Thornbury,
teaching should be done using only the resources that the teachers and students bring to the classroom - i.e themselves and whatever happens to be in the classroom.
Key features of dogmeAs an approach dogme has well grounded principles in language learning and learning theories as explained by Scott Thornbury in this post blog. He explains that dogme considers
- learning as experiential and holistic,
- and language learning as an emergent jointly-constructed and socially-constituted process motivated both by communal and communicative imperatives.
- Dogme has its roots in communicative language teaching
- Conversation is seen as central to language learning.
- Dogme also places more emphasis on a discourse-level (rather than sentence-level) approach to language.
- Dogme considers that the learning of a skill is co-constructed within the interaction between the learner and the teacher.
- The Dogme approach considers that student-produced material is preferable to published materials and textbooks, to the extent of inviting teachers to take a ‘vow of chastity’ and not use textbooks
- Like task-based approach, dogme considers language learning to be a process where language emerges rather than one where it is acquired.
- Scaffolded learning where learning is assisted by the teacher through conversations makes it possible for effective learning to take place.
- The teacher’s role is to optimize language learning affordances, the environment where learners can potentially learn and direct their attention to emergent language.
- The learners voice, beliefs and knowledge are accepted.
- Dogme can be a real challenge for teachers in low resource contexts
- Many teachers question the appropriateness of dogme in situations where students are preparing for examinations that have specific syllabi.
- Dogme creates problems for non-native and novice teachers who find in textbooks a safe guide.
- The initial call for a "vow of chastity" not to use textbooks is seen as unnecessarily purist and hinders the adoption of a weaker version of dogme.
- Dogme is compatible with reflective teaching.
- More freedom for teachers and students to conceptualize and implement more appropriate material.
- Students are most engaged by content they have created themselves
- Dogme has the merit of creating a low-affective filter environment in the classroom.
- learners follow their own pace of learning assisted by the teacher through scaffolding.
- Learning is humanized through a radical pedagogy of dialogue.
- Learners are freed from the ideological load inherent in textbooks generally published in the west and commercialized all over the world.
- Dogme recognizes the legitimacy of learners needs and expectations.
- Dogme gives teachers and learners the possibility to free themselves from the models of teaching and learning imposed by textbook writers.
- Conversations provide the opportunity for learners to analyze, internalize, and practice language.
- Communication is central in the dogme approach.
Ecological approachThe ecological approach in language learning highlights the comprehensive development of language skills within context. Like organisms living in an environment, speakers interact in a context "to integrate into and to influence their discourse community." In this perspective learners are not viewed only as brains to be filled with structures and vocabulary, but also as whole persons living and moving in a specific environment.To learn more about this approach check out
Since the publication of the "Lexical Approach" by Michael Lewis in 1993, Language teaching practices have been widely reviewed and discussed. So what are the features of the Lexical Approach? Is it a revolution in the profession of language teaching or just an evolution? What are its claims? How can it be implemented in the classroom?
Theory of languageThe Chomsky's notion of a native speaker’s output consisting of an infinite number of “creative” utterances is at best a half-truth. In fact prefabricated items represent a significant portion of a native speaker’s spoken and written output. Native speakers have a vast stock of these lexical prefabricated items or chunks and are vital for fluent production. Fluency does not depend so much on having a set of generative grammar rules and a separate stock of words as on having rapid access to a stock of lexical chunks. It would seem, then, that speakers need both a prefabricated, automated element to draw on as well as a creative, generative one.Once the importance of prefabricated language is acknowledged, The grammar/vocabulary dichotomy becomes obviously false. In fact, language has long been analyzed as consisting of grammatical structures and a set of usually single vocabulary items. Grammar has been given priority over vocabulary. The latter has been seen as secondary in importance, merely serving to illustrate the meaning and scope of the grammar. In the lexical Approach this dichotomy is irrealistic and considered to be based on false assumptions about language. Language is basically its lexicon. The key principle of a lexical approach is that "language consists of grammaticalized lexis, not lexicalized grammar." In other words, lexis is central in creating meaning, grammar plays a secondary role in managing meaning. When this principle is accepted, the logical implication for teachers is that we should spend more time helping learners develop their stock of phrases, and less time on grammatical structures.
Nature of the lexisThere is a distinction between vocabulary, traditionally thought to be constituted of single items, and lexis, which includes not only the single words but also the word combinations that we store in our mental lexicons. Lexical approach advocates argue that language consists of meaningful chunks that, when combined, produce continuous coherent text, and only a minority of spoken sentences are entirely novel creations. Michael Lewis present this taxonomy of Lexical items:
- words (e.g., book, pen)
- polywords (e.g., by the way, upside down)
- collocations, or word partnerships (e.g., community service, absolutely convinced)
- institutionalized utterances (e.g., I'll get it; We'll see;That'll do; If I were you . . .; Would you like a cup of coffee?)
- sentence frames and heads (e.g., That is not as . . . as you think; The fact/suggestion/problem/danger was . . .) and even text frames (e.g., In this paper we explore . . .; Firstly . . .; Secondly . . .; Finally . . .)
"instead of words, we consciously try to think of collocations, and to present these in expressions. Rather than trying to break things into ever smaller pieces, there is a conscious effort to see things in larger, more holistic, ways" (1997a, p. 204).
CollocationsA collocation is the readily observable phenomenon whereby certain words co-occur in natural text with greater than random frequency and is not determined by logic or frequency, but is arbitrary, decided only by linguistic convention. Some collocations are fully fixed, such as:
- to catch a cold
- rancid butter
- drug addict
- blood / close / distant / near(est) relative
- learn by doing / by heart / by observation / by rote / from experience
- badly / bitterly / deeply / seriously / severely hurt
Lexis in the classroomCentral to the lexical approach is the focus on teaching real English and a shift away from the artificial language found in ELT textbook and which is drawn from the intuition of textbook designers. In fact, the approach contends that the language course books teach is "not what people really say." That is why it is urgent to avoid distorting the language with course book writer intuition and access the authentic language via corpora (a large amount of written and sometimes spoken material collected to show the state of a language). Intuition often fails to accurately reflect the real use of language. Corpora, however, can instantly provide us with the relative frequencies, collocations, and prevalent grammatical patterns of the lexis in question across a range of genres. In addition, light is shed on lexical variation. This leads to the collection of thousands of vocabulary items that cannot be taught in the traditional PPP (Present-Practice-Produce) framework. So how does the Lexical Approach deal with the teaching part? Even if the approach doesn't present a clear theory of learning there are some hints about how the teaching looks like within the approach.
- Successful language is a wider concept than accurate language. Emphasis is on successful communication not grammatical mastery.
- Language is not learnt by learning individual sounds and structures and then combining them, but by an increasing ability to break down wholes into parts. We can also use whole phrases without understanding their constituent parts.
- Noticing and recording language patterns and collocations.
- Grammar is acquired by a process of observation, hypothesis and experiment. That is, the Observe-Hypothesise-Experiment cycle replaces the Present-Practise-Produce Paradigm.
- Grammar exploration instead of grammar explanation.
- Intensive and extensive listening and reading in the target language.
- First and second language comparisons and translation—carried out chunk-for-chunk, rather than word-for-word—aimed at raising language awareness.
- Repetition and recycling of activities.
- Guessing the meaning of vocabulary items from context.
- The language activities consistent with a lexical approach must be directed toward naturally occurring language and toward raising learners' awareness of the lexical nature of language.
- Working with dictionaries and other reference tools.
ConclusionThe Lexical approach is not really a revolution but an evolution as it tries to develop principles already known by communicative language teachers. The aim of ELT is still the teaching of communicative abilities by focusing on successful language rather than accurate language. The originality of the approach lies in its claims about the nature of language. The distinction between grammar and vocabulary has become less valid and a more realistic view about language, based on the supremacy of lexis over grammar is advocated. The challenge that the approach is facing is how to convince teachers to change their mindset in favor of this new vision about language.
ReferencesLewis, M. (1993). The lexical approach: The state of ELT and the way forward. Hove, England: Language Teaching Publications.Lewis, M. (1997a). Implementing the lexical approach: Putting theory into practice. Hove, England: Language Teaching Publications.Lewis, M. (1997b). Pedagogical implications of the lexical approach. In J. Coady & T. Huckin (Eds.), Second language vocabulary acquisition: A rationale for pedagogy (pp. 255-270). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Other sources:Wikipedia: Lexical ApproachScott Thornbury: L is for (Michael) Lewis
The natural approach developed by Tracy Terrell and supported by Stephen Krashen, is a language teaching approach which claims that language learning is a reproduction of the way humans naturally acquire their native language. The approach adheres to a communicative approach to language teaching and rejects earlier methods such as the audiolingual method and the situational laguage teaching approach which Krashen and terrell (1983) believe are not based on "actual theories of language acquisition but theories of the structure of language "
The Natural Approach vs the Direct MethodAlthough The Natural approach and the Direct Method (also called the natural method) share some features, there are important differences . Like the direct method the natural approach is
" believed to conform to the naturalistic principles found in second language acquisition. Unlike the direct method, however, it places less emphasis on teacher monologues, direct repetion,and formal questions and answers, and less focus on accurate production of target language sentences" (Richards and Rodgers, 1986:129)
Theory of languageKrashen and Terrell view communication as the primary function of language, and adhere to a communicative approach to language teaching, focusing on teaching communicative abilities rather than sterile language structures.What really distinguishes the Natural approach from other methods and approaches are its premises concerning the use of language and the importance of vocabulary:
- Language is viewed as a vehicle for communicating meaning and messages.
- Voacbulary is of paramount importance as language is essencially its lexicon!
Theory of learningKrashen grounded the Natural approach on a number of theory of learning tenets.
The Acquisition-Learning HypothesisKrashen makes a distinction between acquisition and learning.
- Krashen defines acquisition as developing competence by using language for real communication. It is the natural way, paralleling first language development in children and refers to an unconscious process that involves the naturalistic development of language proficiency through understanding language and through using language for meaningful communication.
- Learning, however, refers to formal knowledge of a language. It is the process in which conscious rules about a language are developed. It results in explicit knowledge about the forms of a language and the ability to verbalize this knowledge. Formal teaching is necessary for "learning" to occur, and correction of errors helps with the development of learned rules.
The Monitor HypothesisConscious learning can function only as a monitor or editor that checks and repairs the output of the acquired system. The Monitor Hypothesis states that we may use learned knowledge to correct ourselves when we communicate, but that conscious learning has only this function. Three conditions limit the successful use of the monitor:
- Time. Sufficient time for a learner to choose and apply a learned rule.
- Focus on form. Focus on correctness or on the form of the output.
- Knowledge of rules. Knowing the rules is a prerequiste for the use of the monitor.
The Natural Order HypothesisThe acquisition of grammatical structures proceeds in a predictable order. Certain grammatical structures or morphemes are acquired before others in first language acquisition of English, and the Natural Order Hypothesis claims that the same natural order is found in second language acquisition. It is also believed that errors are signs of naturalistic developmental processes. Similar developmental errors occur in learners during acquisition (but not during learning) no matter what their native language is
The Input HypothesisThe Input Hypothesis relates to acquisition not to learning and states that people acquire language best by understanding input that is slightly beyond their level of competence. Krashen refers to this by the formula L +1 (where L+1 is the stage immediately following L along some natural order.) Comprehension is achieved through linguistic and extra linguistic context clues including knowledge about the world, the context of the situation etc... Comprehension preceds the emergence of speaking as fluency appears only as a result of the provision of sufficient comprehensible input. By comprehensible input Krashen means the utterances that learners understand based on linguistic and extralinguistic context and which consists of a sort of simplified code . He contends that when there is such comprensible input language acquisition proceeds successfully. Krashen also claims that when there is enough of such comprehensible input, L+1will usually be provided automatically and
Affective Filter HypothesisThere are three types of emotional attitudinal factors that may affect acquisition and that may impede, block or freely passes necessary input for acquisition . These are motivation, self confidence and anxiety. Acquirers with high affective filter are less likely to develop comptence.
In a nutshellTeaching according to the Natural Approach involves the following principles:
- Teaching according to the Natural approach focuses on communicative abilities.
- One of its objectives is to help beginners become intermediate.
- Vocabulary is considered prior to synthactic structures.
- A lot of comprehensible input must be provided.
- Use of visual aids to help comprehension.
- Focus is on listening and reading. Speaking emerges later.
- Reducing the high affective filter by
- focusing on meaningful communication rather than on form.
- prividing interesting comprehensible input
- The technique used in this approach are often borrowed from other methods and adapted to meet the requirement of the approach. Thses include:
ConclusionThe Natural Approach belongs to a tradition of language acquisition where the naturalistic features of L1 acquisition are utilized in L2 acquisition. It is an approach that draws a variety of techniques from other methods and approaches to reach this goal which is one of its advantages. But the originality of this approach does not lie in these techniques but on the emphasis on activities based on comprehensible input and meaningful communication rather than on only grammatical mastery of language.
References:To read more on the Natural Approach and other methods:Richards, J. C. & Rogers, T. S. (1986). Approaches and methods in language teaching: A description and analysis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Brown, H. D. (2000). Principles of language learning and teaching (4th ed.). New York: LongmanOthers sources:Wikipedia: The Natural Approach
As the language theories underlying the Audiolingual method and the Sitiuational Language Teaching method were questioned by prominent linguists like Chomsky (1957) during the 1960s, a new trend of language teaching paved its way into classrooms. Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) Which is an approach to the teaching of second and foreign languages, emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. It is also referred to as “Communicative Approach”. Historically, CLT has been seen as a response to the Audio-Lingual Method (ALM), and as an extension or development of the Notional-Functional Syllabus. Task-based language learning, a more recent refinement of CLT, has gained considerably in popularity.
Shortcomings of structuralism and behaviorismThe theories underlying the audiolingual method and the situational language teaching were widely criticized during the 1960s. Noam Chomsky, for instance, rejected the structuralist view of language and demonstrated that there is a distinction between performance and competence. The goal of the linguist is to study the linguistic competence native speakers are endowed with. He also showed, rightly, that structuralism and behaviorism were unable to account for one fundamental aspect of language, namely the creativity and uniqueness of individual sentences. A child is able to produce an infinite number of sentences that s/he has never encountered. This makes the factors of imitation, repetition and habit formation weak arguments to account for any language learning theory.
A shift towards communicative proficiencyThe increasing interdependency between the European countries necessitated a need for a greater effort to teach adults the principal languages of the continent. New goals were set in language teaching profession:
- The paramount importance of communication aspects of language.
- The increasing interest in meaningful learning.
- The growing centrality of the learner in teaching processes.
- The subordinate importance of structural teaching of language.
Notional / functional dimension of languageApplied linguists and philosophers addressed another fundamental dimension of language: the functional and communicative potential of language. The speech act theory showed that we do something when we speak a language. We use language ( cf Halliday 1975)
- to get things,
- to control behavior,
- to create interaction with others,
- to express personal feelings,
- to learn,
- to create a world of imagination,
- to communicate information.
- Notional categories: concepts such as time, sequence; quantity, location, frequency.
- Functional categories: requests offers, complaints, invitation ...
One language competence or numerous competences?For Chomsky the focus of linguistics was to describe the linguistic competence that enables speakers to produce grammatically correct sentences. Dell Hymes held, however, that such a view of linguistic theory was sterile and that it failed to picture all the aspects of language. He advocated the need of a theory that incorporate communication competence. It must be a definition of what a speaker needs to know in order to be communicatively competent in a speech community.Later Canale and Swaine (1980) described four dimensions of communicative competence.
- Grammatical competence: refers to what Chomsky calls linguistic competence.
- Sociolinguistic competence: refers to an understanding of the social context in which communication takes place (role relationships, shared beliefs and information between participants ...)
- Discourse competence: refers to the interpretation of individual messsage elements in terms of their interconnectedness and how meaning is represented in relationship to the entire discourse or text.
- Strategic competence: refers to the coping strategies that participants use to initiate terminate, maintain, repair and redirect communication
Learning theoryAccording to the the communicative approach, in order for learning to take place, emphasis must be put on the importance of these variables:
- Communication: activities that involve real communication promote learning.
- Tasks: activities in which language is used to carry out meaningful tasks supports the learning process.
- Meaning: language that is meaningful and authentic to the learner boosts learning.
Acquiring or learning?Stephen Krashen later advocated in his language learning theory that there should be a distinction between learning and acquiring. He sees acquisition as the basic process involved in developing language proficiency and distinguishes this process from learning. Acquisition is an unconscious process that involves the naturalistic development of language proficiency while learning is the conscious internalisation of the rules of language. It results in explicit knowledge about the forms of language and the ability to verbalize this knowledge. Learning according to Krashen can not lead to acquisition.
SyllabusCommunicative language teaching syllabus organizes the teaching according to the notional and functional categories of language rather than according to its structures.It concentrates on the following:
- Interactions: using language to communicate,
- Tasks: using language to perform meaningful tasks
- Learner: puting the learner's interesets, needs in the forefront.
Merits of CLTThere are many advantages in teaching according to the communicative approach:
- CLT is a holistic appraoch. It doesn't focus only on the traditional structural syllabus. It takes into consideration communicative dimension of language.
- CLT provides vitality and motivation within the classroom.
- CLT is a learner centered approach. It capitalizes on the interests and needs of the learner.
- In a world where communication of information and information technology have broken new considerable ground, CLT can play an important role in education.
- Notional syllabus was criticized as merely replacing one kind of list, namely a list of grammatical structures, with another list of notions and functions.
- The various categories of language functions are overlapping and not systematically graded like the structures of the language.
- The communicative approach focuses on the use of language in everyday situations, or the functional aspects of language, and less on the formal structures. There must be a certain balance between the two.It gives priority to meanings and rules of use rather than to grammar and rules of structure. Such concentration on language behavior may result in negative consequences in the sense that important structures and rules would be left out.
- The approach relies extensively on the functional-notational syllabus which places heavy demands on the learners.
- A major principle underlying this approach is its emphasis on learners' needs and interests. This implies that every teacher should modify the syllabus to fit the needs of the learners.
- The requirements are difficult. Not all classrooms can allow for group work activities and for teaching aids and materials.