Second Language Learning and Language Teaching Website

Main Contents menu    Vivian Cook    SLA Topics index    SLABIB   Keywords

Glossary of Teaching Methods

Audiolingual method; this combined a learning theory based on ideas of habit-formation, and practice with a view of language as patterns and structures; it chiefly made students repeat sentences recorded on tape and practice structures in repetitive drills. Originating in the USA in the 1940s, its peak of popularity was probably the 1960s, though it was not much used in British-influenced EFL. (Note it is not usually abbreviated to ALM since these initials belong to a particular trade‑marked method).

Audiovisual method; this used visual images to show the meaning of spoken dialogues and believed in treating language as a whole rather than divided up into different aspects. Teaching relied on film-strips and taped dialogues for repetition. It emerged chiefly in France in the 1960s and 1970s.

Communicative teaching; this based language teaching on the functions that the second language had for the student and on the meanings they wanted to express, leading to teaching exercises that made the students communicate with each other in various ways. From the mid-1970s onwards this became the most influential way of teaching around the globe, not just for English.

Direct method: essentially any method that relies on the second language throughout

Grammar-translation method: the traditional academic style of teaching which placed heavy emphasis on grammar explanation and translation as a teaching technique

Task-based learning: this approach sees learning as arising from particular tasks the students do in the classroom and has been increasingly seen as a logical development from communicative language teaching.