Last week I wrote about how language teaching has evolved over time and discussed some of the most common methods of teaching that were used. This week I am focusing on more alternative language teaching methods. These methods are based on humanist approaches and some were quite unconventional.
Community Language Teaching (CLL)
This approach aims to engage the whole person, including emotions and feelings as well as their knowledge of the language. Students sit around in a circle and discuss a chosen topic while the teacher monitors their activity and provides some of the target language or corrects some mistakes. The teacher may also record the students and give feedback.The teachers job is to facilitate learning rather than directly teach the students. Students are encouraged to communicate and learn alongside each other.
Reflection: While students do get to communicate with each other while using the language, I feel like the teacher should also take a more interactive role in order to give the students a better chance of learning the language. Using sources such as textbooks and other learning materials would be beneficial. I don’t think this method exposes the students to enough of the language so their learning rate might be slow.
This learning method was based on the science of suggestion, or suggestology. Developed by Georgi Lazenov, he believed that poor language learning was as a result of psychological barriers. With this method students were seated in comfortable armchairs while relaxing music was played. The teacher also spoke calmly and slowly and students meditated before learning. Students also took on different personas while speaking the language. The teacher reads the language aloud in time to the music so that students will learn subconsciously.
Reflection: It’s hard to know where to start with this learning method. By creating such a relaxed atmosphere the students may fall asleep or begin daydreaming. The music may also be off-putting and distract from the actual focus of the lesson which is language learning. I think this method would only suit a minority of students as many people would find it strange. I also think the preparation before learning would take up a lot of time and the students would only be exposed to the language in a particularly unrealistic atmosphere.
The Silent Way
This method puts the learner in complete control of their learning. The teacher stays completely silent and encourages the students to interact with each other.The idea behind it was that the learner retains information better if they discover or create it themselves rather than just repeating what their teacher has said. Cuisenaire rods and phonetics charts were also used to facilitate learning. This is an indirect learning method.
Reflection:While it is always good to encourage learners to discover information themselves and interact with each other, I think the teacher needs to be more influential and more directly involved in the learning process. It can be harder to encourage students to openly communicate and talk when they are getting no feedback and a limited response.
An example of the Silent Way is shown in the Youtube video below. The teacher first explains what the Silent Way is and what is required. An example of a lesson in progress is then shown.
Total Physical Response (TPR)
This teaching method is based on the premise that you learn better by associating words with a physical action. The students should respond physically to the language they hear and follow instructions or commands. They can then give each other commands in the language. As a result aural comprehension is important. This method links language learning with body movement and works under the assumption that by engaging both sides of the brain learning will be accelerated.
Reflection: This method is best suited to children and young learners. It is very interactive but students can avoid learning anything by simply copying what other students are doing. Students can also only learn a limited range of vocabulary as more abstract terms can not be learned by displaying a physical action. Reading comprehension, speech and grammar are also not focused on so ultimately it is not an effective learning technique for language acquisition.
An example of TPR is shown in the Youtube video below. In the video the teacher says a command and the students must act according to the words used.
These are just some of the many methods of language teaching that have been used all around the world, to varying degrees of success.
In my next blog post I will discuss the role of the language teacher and how important teachers are in the learning process.
All images used are from Pixabay and are free from copyright