Current Trends in English Methodology

September 5th, 20119:11 am


Current Trends in English Methodology

Current Trends in English Methodology

What is current methodology? Do we have to abandon all we have learned of the audio-lingual method (A-LM), the Direct Method (DM), and start anew? Thus far, the suggestions for change have been gentle, but we have not been left with a vacuum to be filled. Judging from techniques and trends of the past few years, we can see that current thinking in methodology seems to be in the direction of:

– relaxation of some extreme restrictions of the A-LM and DM;

development of techniques requiring a more active use of the students’ mental powers.

Let us examine these two trends in some detail.

Teachers have found that a close adherence to the listening-speaking-reading-writing order has not always been effective and brought the desired results.

On the other hand a lack of such adherence has not proved harmful. They had also called into question the theory that speech is primary and reading and writing are secondary manifestations. Such theoretical and experimental rethinking has resulted in the current trend toward teaching and testing the various language skills in a more integrated way. We find a renewed interest, for example, in tests of the dictation and cloze type (a cloze test is a test in which words are omitted from a text at regular intervals). The student must supply the missing words according to his understanding of the text and his knowledge of English structure and vocabulary.

The teachers no longer feel the need to defer or widely separate reading and writing lessons from listening and speaking activities.

Similarly, the prohibition against using the student’s native language has been considerably relaxed. It is just more efficient to give explanations and instructions in the native language because it affords more time for really meaningful practice in English.

Notable among current trends is the more practical recognition of the varying needs of learners. If, for instance, a learner needs a reading knowledge of English above all else, then reading must have priority, and the student must learn this skill through specific guided practice in reading.

Another question is whether the teacher should polish learner’s structure so as to exclude a chance of making a mistake. That “prohibition” of errors was largely due to the fear that mistakes would contribute to the creation of a bad habit. Now that the “habit theory” of language acquisition has been challenged and creative aspects of language learning emphasised, the teacher is freed from this fear. Student’s creative involvement is more important to the learning process than the mere avoiding of errors (this doesn’t mean that the teacher should not correct the student and provide necessary drill when appropriate).

Teachers for some time have felt a need of moving from A-LM (with its rigid structure pattern) to a less controlled situation in which the student can communicate his own ideas. Classroom activities may be grouped into four categories:

1. completely manipulative;

2. predominantly manipulative;

3. predominantly communicative;

4. completely communicative.

Examples of completely manipulative activity would be:

a) a drill in which the students merely repeat sentences after the teacher;

b) a simple substitution drill ( by showing a picture or explaining a scene from the students’ experience). The latter exercise could be made into a predominantly manipulative drill that is it would include a small element of communication).

In a more advanced class the students retell a story the teacher has given them. Finally, an example of pure communication would be a free conversation among the members of the class, such as a role-playing, conference, etc.)

Близнюк М.І. Курс лекцій з методики викладання англійської мови. – Чернівці: ЧДУ, 1999 – с.