Language teaching has come a long way since its inception. The methods and principles of language teaching have evolved over time in response to various factors such as linguistic research, social changes, educational policies, and advances in technology. In the early years, language teaching was heavily focused on the mastery of grammar rules and vocabulary lists, with little attention paid to communication skills. However, with the emergence of communicative language teaching in the 1970s, there was a shift in focus towards communication and the use of language in real-life situations.
This shift in focus sparked a revolution in language teaching, which paved the way for the development of various teaching approaches and methods. The evolution of language teaching methods has been shaped by a variety of factors such as the changing nature of language learning goals, advances in linguistic research, and the changing social and cultural contexts of language learning.
It is essential for language teachers to have a deep understanding of the evolution of language teaching methods and principles. This knowledge enables teachers to critically evaluate teaching practices and select the most appropriate methods for their learners. It also helps teachers to adapt their teaching methods to the changing needs and goals of their learners and to keep up with the latest trends in language teaching.
In this chapter, we will explore the evolution of language teaching methods and principles, drawing on the seminal work of Diane Larsen-Freeman and Marti Anderson in their book “Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching.” This book provides a comprehensive overview of the principles and techniques that have shaped language teaching over the years, from the Grammar-Translation Method to the Communicative Language Teaching approach.
We will begin by looking at the Grammar-Translation Method, which was the dominant approach to language teaching in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This method was based on the idea that language learning involved the mastery of grammar rules and vocabulary lists, with little emphasis on communicative competence. We will then move on to discuss the Direct Method, which emerged in the early 20th century as a reaction against the Grammar-Translation Method. The Direct Method emphasized the importance of oral communication and aimed to immerse learners in the target language. We will then explore the Audio-Lingual Method, which emerged in the 1950s and was heavily influenced by the behaviorist theories of learning. This method focused on repetition and drills, with the aim of developing automatic responses in learners. We will then discuss the Communicative Language Teaching approach, which emerged in the 1970s and emphasized the importance of communication and the use of language in real-life situations.
In addition to exploring these methods, we will also discuss the principles that have shaped language teaching over the years. These principles include the importance of creating a supportive learning environment, the need to provide learners with opportunities for authentic communication, and the importance of developing learners’ autonomy.
Overall, the evolution of language teaching methods and principles is an important topic for language teachers to study. By understanding the historical development of language teaching methods and principles, teachers can better evaluate current teaching practices, adapt to changing educational contexts, and select the most appropriate methods for their learners.