UNIT 1 THE DEVELOPMENT OF LANGUAGE TEACHING. CURRENT TRENDS IN THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE.

THE COMMUNICATIVE APPROACH. 1. INTRODUCTION 2. A HISTORY OF THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH AS A FOREING LANGUAGE 2.1. Up to the eighteen century. 2.1.1. Ancient civilisations. 2.1.2. Middle Ages. 2.1.3. 16th and 17th Century. 2.1.4. 18th Century 2.2. The 19th century: Approaches and Methods on language teaching. 2.2.1. The Grammar-Translation method. 2.2.2. The Reform Movement: Gouin and The role of phonetics. 2.2.3. The Direct Method: Berlitz. 2.3. The 20th century: A communicative approach. 2.3.1. Situational Language teaching method and the Audiolingual method. 2.3.2. New Methods: The Silent Way, Sugestopaedia, Total Physical Response. 2.3.3. The Communicative Language Teaching Approach. 2.3.4. The Eclectic Approach. 3. NEW DIRECTIONS ON LANGUAGE TEACHING. 3.1. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages 4. CONCLUSION. 1.INTRODUCTION

In this unit we are going to look at the different methods that have been used for language teaching throughout history. We can distinguish three main schools of thought: The first one focuses the attention on grammatical structures. Although it has begun to disappear, it partly survives in the design of some textbooks. The second one focuses on communication, so the great objective is the development of the student’s communicative capacity. With the third school of thought, the task-based and the project-based approach develop. The concept and practice of communication evolves towards richer forms. The foreign language is considered as an instrument. Language teaching has to bear in mind the student’s characteristics and his way of learning, the task which has to be carried out, the learning strategies and the attitudes, etc. We will examine all of these styles throughout this unit. The information that we will use has been mainly taken from Richards, J and Rodgers (1986); Rivers, W. (1981); Baugh, A., and Cable T. A (1993). 2. A HISTORY OF THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH AS FOREING LANGUAGE. 2.1. Up to the 18th century. Although we have no evidence of language learning procedures it is known that Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians… sent bilingual delegates. As Richards and Rodgers state, the function of the earliest educational systems was primarily to teach religion and to promote the traditions of the people. In Middle Ages Latin was the most important language, usually used as a second language: It was the dominant language of education, government and commerce. It was taught in the monastic schools through rote learning of grammar rules and translation. During 16th and 17th century, vernacular languages (French, Italian and English) gained in importance as a result of political changes in Europe, and Latin gradually became displaced

as a language of spoken and written communication. These languages were taught using the same basic techniques that had been used to teach Latin, which became the model of all language study. The system could hardly be said to be communicative. The L1 was used all the time and the role of the learner was basically passive. Through this concept the Grammar Translation Method (or Traditional method) was developed. 2.2. The 19th century: Approaches and Methods on language teaching. Grammar-Translation Method was the dominant foreign language teaching method in Europe during 19th century. It was of German origin and it was known in the USA as The Prussian Method. It is a mainly book-oriented method of learning the grammatical system of the language. The main purpose of this method was to enable students to read literature in target language; Language learning involves the memorisation of rules and vocabulary related to first language meaning by means of massive translation practice. Grammar-translation lays no emphasis on the speaking or listening of second language speech. In the mid-late 19th century, increased opportunities for communication among Europeans created a demand for oral proficiency in foreign languages. One of the main areas to challenge the Grammar Translation Method was the Gouin Series. The proposals of the reformer F. Gouin were based on the observation of the way a child learns its mother tongue. So language, gestures and action are linked leaving behind the passivity of the method mentioned before. This means a big step to the Communicative Approach, as it represents a shift from grammar-translation methods to natural methods. This tendency to consider spoken language as an essential element in language learning also led to the founding of an International Phonetic Association (1886), which brought about a reform of language learning methodology. Reformers believed that grammar had to be taught inductively, translation avoided,

and language learning should be based on hearing the language first, before seeing it in written forms. According to Rivers, this interesting for developing teaching principles from principles in first language acquisition led to the development of what we know as The Direct Method. This method is characterised, above all, by trying to apply natural principles to language classes. Sauveur in France and Berlitz in America promoted the use of intensive oral interaction in the target language and the avoidance of translation as a technique. 2.3. The 20th century: a communicative approach. When these principles were systematised into coherent teaching procedures, the Direct Method developed into the Situational Language Teaching method in Britain and the Audiolingual method in the United States. Both methods, popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s, have structural roots. They are oral approaches to language teaching and therefore there is little provision for grammatical explanation or talking about the language. They place special emphasis on contextualising the language, one of the main features of the Communicative Approach that we will look at later. As Rivers states, there is a vocabulary selection, used in listening and speaking first, followed by reading and writing. Normally, the oral practice is based on guided repetitions, controlled oral tasks, drills, etc. and a written practice mainly focusing on dictations. The target language is the only one that is used in the classroom. Audiolingual method is also based on behavioristic psychology: accuracy is more important than fluency so that errors are prevented, and the sounds or sentence patterns become a habit. These methods had its decline at the end of the 70’s, with the publishing of Chomsky’s Generative Transformational Grammar. For him, language is innate and not formed from habits. The sentences are generated by the student’s competence and not imitation. So these teaching traditions started to be

questioned by applied linguists who saw the need to focus in language teaching on communicative proficiency rather than on mere mastery of structures. At the end of 70’s decade, new methods based on psycholinguistics seemed to open a wholly different way of teaching languages. One of those methods is The Silent Way. Gattegno introduced this classroom technique in which the teacher should remain silent while students produce the language using token and pictures cards as central elements. The students learn to associate sounds in the language with colours. Students should be able to use the language for self-expression; they do not need to learn items for passive understanding, only for active use. This principle allows learners to monitor and self-correct their own production. It is here where this method differs notably from other ways of language learning. A method connected to 19th century Guoin series is what we know as Total Physical Response, developed by James Asher. For him, including movement within the linguistic production reduces learner stress, creating a positive mood which facilitates learning. It became very popular with infants and primary students as it is an excellent way of encouraging them to participate. In fact, the system still forms a part of the methodology used with young learners today. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Suggestopedia method was developed by called Georgi Lozanov. The most outstanding feature of this method is, according to Rivers, the use of external elements; the arrangement of the classroom to create and optimal atmosphere to learning, by means of decoration, furniture and, specially, the use of music. He believed that the human mind is capable of great acts of memory if learning takes place in the right conditions. All this, then, finally leads us to the most used

methodology in language teaching nowadays, the method that developed from all these others, the Communicative Approach. Here content is organized by categories of meaning and function rather than by elements of structure and grammar. The key concept is that of communication or communicative competence. The term “communicative competence”, first used by Hymes (1972) in contrast to Chomsky’s “linguistic competence”, reflects the social view of language. For M. Canale & M. Swain (1980), communicative competence is understood as the underlying system of knowledge and skills required for communication, and they identified four dimensions of communicative competence: grammatical, sociolinguistic, discursive and strategic competence. These are incorporated into the Spanish curriculum, but are adapted to include Linguistic Competence, which involves a knowledge of phonetics, morphology and syntax. The goal of the teachers who use the Communicative Approach is to have their students become communicatively competent. It involves being able to use the language which is appropriate to a given social context. The teacher facilitates the students’ learning and his role is that of the motivator, monitor and guide, so less dominant, with the students taking the responsibility for their own learning. Almost everything is done with a communicative intent. Students may use the language a great deal through games, role-plays and problem solving tasks. Ultimately the students are able to use the language freely and creatively in any given communicative context. This also will help with the transversal topic of cooperation as the students will learn to work together. This approach is eclectic in that it not only uses the other communicative approaches, but it also uses some elements from the earlier methods For Rivers, an Eclectic approach seeks the balanced development of all four skill at all stages, while retaining an emphasis on the early development of oral skills. The method is also adapted to the changing objectives of the day and

to the type of students who pass through the classes. This approach is being currently applied to language teaching as part or our present educational system, based on communicative methods. 3. NEW DIRECTIONS ON LANGUAGE TEACHING At the beginning of the 1990’s, as a result of a lot of research and ongoing work on communicative objectives, the Council of Europe designed one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken in the field of language education: The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, whose main aim is to provide a reference method for language learning, teaching and assessment for all main European languages. The approach adopted could be defined as the sum of the levels of competence (linguistic and non-linguistic) required when performing tasks in order to communicate appropriately. It is based on the strategies used by learners in order to carry out communication activities related to the four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

language educators is about “what content” and “how much content” best supports language learning. The goal is to best match learner needs and interests and to promote optimal development of second language competence.

4. CONCLUSION Humanity has been learning languages for more than two thousand years but it’s especially during the 20th century when language teaching has evolved. On revising the literature on language teaching theories, it is possible to get a sense of the wide range of proposals from the 1700’s to the present, with their weakness and strengths, from grammar-based methods to more interactive communicative approaches. This proliferation of approaches and methods is a relevant characteristic of contemporary second and foreign language teaching, and is only understood when the learner’s need is approached from an educational perspective. There is still present a constant preoccupation for teachers and linguistics to find more efficient and effective ways of teaching languages. A critical question for

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