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Language teaching came into its own as a profession in the last century. Central to this process was the emergence of the concept of methods of language teaching. The method concept in language teaching—the notion of a systematic set of teaching practices based on a particular theory of language and language learning—is a powerful one, and the quest for better methods preoccupied teachers and applied linguists throughout the 20th century. Howatt (1984) documents the history of changes in language teaching throughout history, up through the Direct Method in the 20th century. One of the most lasting legacies of the Direct Method has been the notion of method itself.
Methodology in language teaching has been characterized in a variety of ways. A more or less classical formulation suggests that methodology links theory and practice. Within methodology a distinction is often made between methods and approaches, in which methods are held to be fixed teaching systems with prescribed techniques and practices, and approaches are language teaching philosophies that can be interpreted and applied in a variety of different ways in the classroom. This distinction is probably best seen as a continuum ranging from highly prescribed methods to loosely described approaches.
This Resource Guide provides information about and links to digests, journals, books, and Web sites that offer information about second language teaching methods and approaches.
Howatt, A. (1984). A history of English language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This introduction is adapted from Rodgers, T. S. (2001). Language Teaching Methodology (ERIC Issue Paper). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics.
The following publications, Web sites, and listservs offer additional information about second language teaching methodology. This Resource Guide concludes with an annotated bibliography of ERIC documents on this topic.
Digests are brief overviews of topics in education. The following titles are related to language teaching methods and approaches.
The following journals often include articles on language teaching methods and approaches.
The ADFL Bulletin is a refereed journal published by the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages. The ADFL Bulletin prints essays dealing with professional, pedagogical, curricular, and departmental matters.
The Annual Review of Applied Linguistics provides reviews of research in applied linguistics and essays on pedagogy, second language acquisition, and computer assisted instruction.
The CALICO Journal is devoted to the dissemination of information concerning the application of technology to language teaching and language learning.
The Canadian Modern Language Review publishes peer-reviewed articles on all aspects of language learning and teaching. Article topics range from ESL, to French immersion, to international languages, to native languages.
The ELT Journal seeks to bridge the gap between the everyday practical concerns of ELT professionals and related disciplines such as education, linguistics, psychology, and sociology that may offer significant insights.
Foreign Language Annals is the official journal of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and is dedicated to the advancement of foreign language teaching.
The French Review is the official journal of the American Association of Teachers of French. The Review publishes articles and reviews on French and francophone literature, cinema, society and culture, linguistics, technology, and pedagogy six times a year.
Hispania is a journal devoted to the interests of the teaching of Spanish and Portuguese.
The International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching (IRAL) is devoted to problems of general and applied linguistics in their various forms.
The Journal for Accelerated Learning and Teaching provides information on the research behind accelerated learning theory.
Language Learning - A Journal of Research in Language Studies is a scientific journal dedicated to the understanding of language learning broadly defined.
Language Teaching brings together the latest findings in research worldwide in language teaching and learning. Key international periodicals are abstracted in each volume, and an annual research review identifies significant research trends.
The Modern Language Journal is devoted to research and discussion about the learning and teaching of foreign and second languages.
TESOL Journal publishes articles on ESOL methodology, curriculum materials and design, teacher development, literacy, bilingual education, and classroom inquiry and research.
TESOL Quarterly publishes articles on topics of significance to individuals concerned with the teaching of English as a second or foreign language and of standard English as a second dialect.
Die Unterrichtspraxis: The Teaching of German is the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) journal for German language pedagogy.
Asher, J. (1982). Learning Another Language Through Actions (2nd ed.). Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks Productions.
Bancroft, W. (1999). Suggestopedia and Language Acquisition: Variations on a Theme. New York: Gordon and Breach.
Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Hartford, B. (Eds.). (1997). Beyond Methods: Components of Second Language Teacher Education. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Brown, H.D. (1980). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Brumfit, C.J., & Johnson, K. (Eds.). (1979). The Communicative Approach to Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Celce-Murcia, M. (Ed.). (1991). Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. Boston: Newbury House.
Curran, C.A. (1972). Counseling-Learning: A Whole-Person Model for Education. New York: Grune and Stratton.
Curran, C.A. (1976). Counseling-Learning in Second Languages. Apple River, IL: Apple River Press.
Gattegno, C. (1972). Teaching Foreign Languages in Schools: The Silent Way (2nd ed.). New York: Educational Solutions.
Gattegno, C. (1976). The Common Sense of Teaching Foreign Languages. New York: Educational Solutions.
Holt, D. (1993). Cooperative Learning: A Response to Linguistic and Cultural Diversity. McHenry, IL, and Washington, DC: Delta Systems and Center for Applied Linguistics.
Johnson, K. (1982). Communicative Syllabus Design and Methodology. Oxford: Pergamon.
Krashen, S.D. (1981). Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Oxford: Pergamon.
Krashen, S.D., & Terrell, T.D. (1983). The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in the Classroom. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Littlewood, W. (1982). Communicative Language Teaching: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Littlewood, W. (1992).Teaching Oral Communication: A Methodological Framework. Oxford: Blackwell.
Lozanov, G. (1978). Suggestology and Outlines of Suggestopedy. New York: Gordon and Breach.
Lozanov, G., & Gateva, E. (1988).The Foreign Language Teacher's Suggestopedic Manual. New York: Gordon and Breach.
Musumeci, D. (1997). Breaking Tradition: An Exploration of the Historical Relationship Between Theory and Practice in Second Language Teaching. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Nunan, D. (1999). Second Language Teaching and Learning. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T.S. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Short, D. (1999). New Ways in Teaching English at the Secondary Level. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Stern, H.H. (1983). Fundamental Concepts of Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stevick, E. (1998). Working with Teaching Methods: What's at Stake? Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
McGraw-Hill. (1997). The Natural Approach, From Theory to Practice: The 1994 McGraw-Hill Teleconference. New York: Author.
Community Language Learning Theory and Lesson Plan
General overview of the techniques and principles of Community Language Learning theory and a sample lesson plan.
The Web site of Dr. Georgi Lozanov, creator of Suggestopedia.
The English Teacher
Online magazine for English language teachers that features publications, professional support, lessons, and articles on methodology.
Foreign Language Teaching Forum
The topic of FLTEACH is foreign language teaching methods, including school/college articulation, training of student teachers, classroom activities, curriculum, and syllabus design.
Short essay outlining the use of the Grammar Translation Method in teaching German.
McGraw-Hill Teaching Methods Web Resources
Large archive of links to teaching method resources.
Overview of Methodologies for Language Teaching
A historical survey of the most influential methodologies, some "fringe" methodologies, and new tendencies in language teaching.
The Silent Way Message Board
Message board devoted to general discussions regarding the work of Dr. Caleb Gattegno, developer of The Silent Way.
Suggestopedia and Accelerative Language Teaching/Learning
A page of links to sites about Suggestopedia, Georgi Lozanov, and Accelerative Language teaching techniques.
Teaching Foreign Languages - The Silent Way
History and method of The Silent Way.
Theoretical Basis for the Natural Approach
Online PowerPoint presentation about the Natural Approach. Site includes links to information about other teaching methods.
Total Physical Response
Articles, workshops, and publications about TPR.
Information on obtaining the documents listed below can be found at the end of this section. These documents were identified by searching the ERIC database using the following combination of ERIC descriptors and keywords:
Second Language Instruction
Educational Trends or Methodology/ies or Approach/es or Grammar Translation Method or Audiolingual Methods or Silent Way or Suggestopedia or Community Language Learning or Total Physical Response or Natural Approach or Communicative Approach
Second Language Teaching & Learning.
Availability: Heinle & Heinle Publishers, 7625 Empire Dr., Florence, KY 41042-2978 ($24.95). Tel: 800-354-9706 (Toll Free).
The purpose of this volume is to provide a contemporary portrait of second language learning and teaching, to identify major trends and issues, to show where these trends and issues have come from, and to illustrate ways teachers can incorporate these ideas in their own teaching practice. The book is a personal account, tracing the author's struggles with theoretical and conceptual issues and illustrating practical solutions. The book is intended for practicing teachers as well as future teachers. It is composed of ten chapters divided into three parts. Part one is a concept map for the rest of the book, covering the conceptual and empirical basis for second language learning and teaching. In part two, language is looked at in context, focusing on those aspects of language that can provide teachers with insights for developing materials and pedagogical procedures. The chapters focus on the learner and learning processes respectively. Part three focuses on thematic issues that arose in parts one and two. Chapters examining the "Cinderella skill," what it is that differentiates spoken from written language, key theoretical and empirical underpinnings of a reading program, and a discussion of a discourse-based approach to writing complete the book. A glossary, index, and extensive references, as well as many charts, tables, and diagrams are included.
Language Awareness as Methodology: Implications for Teachers and Teacher Training.
Language Awareness, v3 n2 p61-71 1994
Discusses language awareness (LA) as a methodology in foreign language teaching, demonstrating that LA presumes not only linguistic awareness on the part of teachers but also an understanding of the learning and teaching processes this methodology promotes. Argues that training content needs to be educationally rather than linguistically orientated. (12 references)
Grammar Pedagogy in Second and Foreign Language Teaching.
TESOL Quarterly, v25 n3 p459-512 Fall 1991
To provide some perspective on current issues and challenges concerning the role of grammar in language teaching, methodological trends of the past 25 years are reviewed. A proposal for a decision-making strategy is provided for resolving the controversy regarding how much grammar one should teach to language learners.
Methods in Elementary School Foreign Language Teaching.
Foreign Language Annals, v24 n4 p323-29 Sep 1991
A brief overview of the importance of the use of appropriate methodologies for elementary school foreign language instruction precedes a description of several strategies involving total physical response, story telling, games and songs, props, small-group work, role-play, content-based instruction, cultural and global awareness, language experience approach, and dialog journals. (11 references)
Eight Approaches to Language Teaching.
Important features of eight second language teaching methods—grammar-translation, direct, audiolingual, the Silent Way, Suggestopedia, community language learning, Total Physical Response, and the communicative approach—are summarized. A chart outlines characteristics of these aspects of the methods: goals, teacher and student roles, the teaching/learning process, student-teacher and student-student interaction, dealing with feelings, view of language and culture, the aspects of language emphasized, the role of the students' native language, means for evaluation, and response to student errors. The report also lists additional information sources.
Three Methods for Language Acquisition: Total Physical Response; the Tomatis Program; Suggestopedia.
Bancroft, W. Jane
Total Physical Response is a strategy for learning second languages developed by James J. Asher. The Tomatis program, developed in France by Alfred Tomatis, is a method for treating dyslexia and communication problems and is also used for teaching basic elements of foreign languages. Suggestology is a psychotherapeutic system based on yogic techniques of physical and mental relaxation, created in Bulgaria by Georgi Lozanov. Suggestopedia is the application of suggestology to education, and specifically to foreign language instruction. Although seemingly different, the three methods have important elements in common: (1) they are based on the way children learn their native language, that is, by acquiring listening comprehension before speaking, reading, and writing skills. (2) They share the premise that learning a second language should be a "natural" experience with emphasis on communicative competence and realistic utterances. (3) They perceive language globally, with attention to detail emphasized later in the learning process. (4) They emphasize use of the brain's right hemisphere, for implicit learning.
The Natural Approach to Language Teaching: An Update.
Terrell, T. D.
Canadian Modern Language Review, v41 n3 p461-79 Jan 1985
It is proposed that language acquisition improves if beginning students are allowed to experience three stages of acquisition: comprehension (preproduction), early speech production, and speech emergence. Each stage requires a different kind of activity building on the previous stage's development.
Silent Way in the University Setting.
Lantolf, James P.
The use of the Silent Way method of second language instruction in beginning and intermediate Spanish classes at the college level is described. The approach encourages student self-responsibility for learning the target language according to learning strategies selected by the student. Although the method was used during three semesters, the students underwent the greatest metamorphosis in their abilities to independently interact in Spanish during the first semester. Student's initial reactions to the courses, pronunciation, evaluation of student progress, the link between input and acquisition, teacher silence and the cultivation of communicative confidence, the effect of the Silent Way approach on student anxiety levels, and student performance on a cloze test are discussed. Sample student compositions and an editing task are appended.
The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in the Classroom.
Krashen, Stephen D.; Terrell, Tracy D.
Availability: The Alemany Press, P.O. Box 5265, San Francisco, CA 94101 ($11.95).
The theory and methods of the natural approach to language acquisition in the classroom are described. The natural approach is based on the theory that language acquisition occurs only when students receive comprehensible input. The emphasis is on reading and listening comprehension for beginning students. The seven chapters cover (1) language teaching approaches, (2) second language acquisition theory, (3) classroom implications of the theory, (4) how to begin using the natural approach, (5) oral communication development through acquisition activities, (6) additional sources of input for acquisition, and (7) testing and classroom management. Curriculum organization, classroom activities, management of classroom activities, the role of reading in the natural approach, homework, vocabulary, and error correction are also discussed.
The Role of Grammar in a Communicative Approach to Second Language Teaching and Testing.
Swain, Merrill; Canale, Michael
A review of literature on communicative competence reveals many meanings of the concept and of the way it should be used in second and foreign language instruction. In the literature there are two views: that communicative competence includes grammatical competence, and that it does not; or at least the ability to communicate one's meaning is secondary to the appropriateness or grammaticalness of the utterance. The latter view has three bases, all related to first language learning. These bases are: (1) children focus more on being understood than on speaking grammatically, (2) full grammatical competence will come at a later stage, and (3) language learning is more effective when it involves real communicative acts. An examination of theoretical arguments and limited empirical evidence regarding transposing these three bases to second language learning suggests the need for a framework specific to second language learning. This framework would include grammatical, sociolinguistic, and strategic competence. The latter includes strategies of two main types, those related primarily to grammatical competence, and those related to sociolinguistic competence. While there is little research to support the view, it is proposed that a functional approach is better than one with a grammatical base.
Evaluating Contemporary Language-Teaching Methodologies through Historical Perspective.
Madsen, Harold S.; Bowen, J. Donald
The comparative study of foreign language teaching methodologies benefits from an overview of the history of foreign language instruction, which begins with Roman youths learning Greek and, later, the classical form of Latin. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, notable figures such as Erasmus and Montaigne espoused highly intensive though relatively unsystematic methods, though it was in this period that the love for the discipline of a grammatical system brought the grammar translation method into favor. By the end of the 19th century, the Natural and Phonetic Methods, reactions to grammar translation, had spawned the oral-aural Direct Method. The eclectic and thoroughly worked-out views of a figure such as Harold E. Palmer (1877- 1949) sound remarkably modern. The recurring ideas of contemporary methodologies are also recurring ideas of history (e.g., starting instruction at an early age). Both the success of the audiolingual approach and the views of its contemporary detractors can be understood through historical perspective. The many innovative methods currently in use (including Total Physical Response and the Silent Way) also owe their distinctive appeal to one or more time-honored principles of foreign language instruction.
Method: Approach, Design, and Procedure.
Richards, Jack C.; Rodgers, Ted
TESOL Quarterly, v16 n2 p153-68 Jun 1982
Offers a model which can be used to describe any given second language teaching method, as well as analyze different methods for their internal adequacy, similarities, and differences.
The Dartmouth-Rassias Model of Teaching Foreign Languages.
Stansfield, Charles; Hornor, Jeanne
ADFL Bulletin, v12 n4 p23-27 May 1981
Describes the Dartmouth-Rassias language instruction model emphasizing its reliance on audiolingual techniques and on the intensive approach. Discusses classroom techniques, unique teacher selection methods, and importance of teacher attitudes. Reviews the results achieved by this model and expresses the hope that it will receive more attention from the teaching profession.
Directions for Change in an Audio-Lingual Approach.
Knop, Constance K.
Canadian Modern Language Review, v37 n4 p724-38 May 1981
Examines directions suggested by studies in communicative competence, cognitive mapping of learning styles, and classroom interaction, seeking integration with a basically audiolingual approach to second language instruction. Suggests alternate ways of conducting classes to help teachers meet students' individual learning needs while still using activities set up in audiolingual methodology.
Teaching Foreign-Language Skills. Second Edition.
Rivers, Wilga M.
ISBN: 0-226-72-0-98-5 (cloth)0-226-72907-7 (paper)
Availability: University of Chicago Press, 5801 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL 60637
This second edition is a complete reworking of the 1968 text to include later views of language learning and teaching, and theories of linguistics and psychology. The text is intended particularly for use in methods classes in conjunction with observation of experienced foreign language teachers. The early chapters deal with general principles such as objectives and methods of language teaching, and theories of language and language learning. Subsequent chapters address practical matters related to the language class. These concerns are: (1) structured practice, (2) teaching sounds, (3) listening comprehension, (4) learning the fundamentals of the speaking skill, (5) various approaches to teaching communicative skills, (6) reading skills, (7) writing skills, (8) cultural understanding, (9) principles and techniques of testing, and (10) technology and language learning centers. The final chapter deals with early language learning, elementary school foreign language, languages for special purposes, vocabulary learning, and matters related to lesson planning and classroom management.
Approach, Design and Procedure: Their Role in Methodology.
Richards, Jack C.; Rodgers, Ted
Three interrelated pedagogical elements—approach, design, and procedure—are basic in a discussion of language teaching. Approach defines those foundational assumptions, beliefs, and theories about the nature of language and language learning. Design specifies the relationships of theories to both the form and use of instructional materials. Procedure comprises classroom techniques and practices consequent upon particular approaches and designs. The discussion is in three parts: (1) some basic questions about structural-behavioral, functional, and interactional theories underlying particular pedagogical philosophies; (2) the relationship between theories in a particular approach and a design for language teaching, which would include a specification of the content, learner and teacher roles, and types and functions of instructional materials; and (3) procedural questions focused on the actual class techniques, practices, and activities operative in teaching and learning a language, and the relation between them and linguistic theory and learning models. It is concluded that an instructional system must be crafted to move from approach to design to procedure. In this way the study of methodology in applied linguistics assumes a significant role.
Some Pre-Methodological Considerations in Foreign-Language Teaching.
Higgs, Theodore V.
Canadian Modern Language Review, v37 n2 p309-19 Jan 1981
Combines studies in cognitive psychology and language acquisition with observations of pedagogical materials and student performance to analyze foreign-language teaching from the perspective of what students and teachers need to understand about language learning and language before meaningful debate over methodology can be undertaken.
The full text of most materials in the ERIC database with an "ED" followed by six digits is available through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS) in microfiche, by email, or in paper copy. Approximately 80% of ERIC documents from 1993 to the present are available for online ordering and electronic delivery through the EDRS Web site. You can read ERIC documents on microfiche for free at many libraries with monthly subscriptions or specialized collections. To find an ERIC center near you, contact our User Services staff.
The full text of journal articles may be available from one or more of the following sources:
To obtain journals that do not permit reprints and are not available from your library, write directly to the publisher. Addresses of publishers are listed in the front of each issue of Current Index to Journals in Education and can now be accessed online through the CIJE Source Journal Index.
If you would like additional information about this or any topic related to language education or linguistics, contact our User Services Staff.
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