What is a teacher’s certificate?
- Teaching qualifications
- Tips & Strategies
We continue our “History of the Method” series. Here, we are moving throughout history and analyzing how teaching approaches have been changing, why and to what extent we can use them in our classrooms nowadays.
Today, let's proceed to the Direct Method, an approach that came after the Grammar-Translation method.
More about Grammar-Translation Method
A technique that addressed the issues with the Grammar-Translation method – at the time, the most popular method for teaching languages – arose around the end of the 19th century.
This approach was created as an alternative to the Grammar-Translation method. When the shortcomings of the Grammar-Translation technique became clear, the Direct Method specifically targeted those skills that were barely touched by the method that came before it.
The Direct Approach, commonly referred to as “the natural method,” bases the context and strategies for second language acquisition on the first language acquisition process. This change is built upon the notion that we didn't really practice translation and grammatical rules while studying our native language.
That being said, how did we learn our first language? This is something the direct method is deeply concerned with.
The major goal is to educate students on how to communicate in a foreign language.
This is accomplished by placing the learner in a “natural” learning setting, which reproduces the conditions in which native speakers learn a language.
The Direct Method is excellent for boosting students’ motivation and, as a result, for material retention because of the immersive learning environment.
In comparison to the Grammar-Translation method, students are much less passive.
Yes, the role of the teacher is still powerful, but they are likely to engage more with the students and treat them as partners in the learning process.
Sure, the Direct Method has its own principles and rules that need to be followed by anyone who is eager to try this approach in their own ESL classroom:
What is CLIL?
What is more, theorists of the Direct Method put a great emphasis on the following principles as well:
The Direct Method is great if the main priority is to learn how to handle common everyday situations.
With such a focus on common phrases and topics, it doesn’t take too much time for your students to actually be able to speak on these topics using the target vocabulary.
Generally, the Direct Method supports the “natural” process of learning a language, encourages students to think in the target language as they learn it, and has a rapid positive impact on pronunciation.
Therefore, it may be rather effective for anyone whose goal is to have a chit-chat with colleagues, support conversations with friends and acquaintances, and generally perform various everyday tasks with ease.
Want to know more about Post-Method?
|Students get a chance to try using the language in practice, not only in theory.||Getting grammar rules sometimes becomes challenging due to the fully inductive explanation, especially if students come from backgrounds where they were previously taught with the help of the Grammar-Translation Method.|
|A great deal of attention goes to the development of speaking skills.||Students are not that proficient in writing because teachers don’t usually have enough opportunities to focus on it properly.|
|There is no space for translation. Therefore, students become less dependent on their native language while studying their second language.||There may be some pronunciation mistakes as these rules are not taught explicitly but rather through the reading practice.|
Finally, you may ask: “What types of activities are the most popular within the Direct Method?”
Here are some ideas of the tasks that your students are likely to deal with:
Students read the assigned passage in turns, role-play the dialogues through reading. Afterwards, the teacher takes time explaining important things (vocabulary, functional language) from the passage that has been read.
The aim of this activity is to practice the target language from the reading task. Both questions and answers have to be composed using this target language.
Moreover, students are also supposed to care about the correct grammar structures and pronunciation.
After all, after successful completion of such a task, students basically get ready-to-go phrases that they can use straight away in the appropriate situation.
Tips to teach functional language
As we have already mentioned, self-correction is thought to be much more effective than simple correction made by a teacher.
Therefore, students are going to deal with a lot of self-correction activities based on either some typical mistakes or those that we made during the speaking task, for example.
The teacher is supposed to read the text passage clearly and slowly, using proper pronunciation, intonation and pausing.
Meanwhile, students should listen to the teacher carefully and write down everything they hear in the best way possible.
Within the Direct Method, this task is thought to be effective on many levels: students may practice spelling, listening as well as get to work with a nicely composed authentic piece of writing.
We have already seen this type of task when we were talking about the Grammar-Translation Method. But this time students are not taught the grammar explicitly and therefore have to see the patterns and fill in the gaps correctly.
As we can see, there are two sides of one coin.
On the one hand, there is a clear shift to the modern methodological approaches and even attempts to deal with the problem of inability to speak that the Grammar-Translation Method couldn’t solve.
On the other hand, we definitely may call some aspects of the Direct Method archaic (reading out loud, dictations) from the todays’ perspective.
Still, we can not deny that it seems to be a great progress that happened thanks to the Direct Method and some of its principles we actively use even now. If you want to learn more tips on the latest teaching methods, don’t forget to join our community of professionals.
The Direct Method is a very effective way of teaching with almost no cons.