Reading and writing are the major focus: little or no systematic attention is paid to speaking or listening.
In a typical G-T text, the grammar rules are presented and illustrated, a list of vocabulary items is presented with their translation equivalents, and translation exercise a prescribed.
the sentence is the basic unit of teaching and language practice. Much of the lesson is devoted to translating sentences into and out of the target language, and it is this focus on the sentence that is a distinctive feature of the method.
of grammar rules, which are then practised through translation Accuracy is emphasized. Students are expected to attain high standarts in translation, because of "the high priority attached to meticulous standards of accuracy which was a prerequisite for passing the increasing number of formal written examinations that grew up during the century"
Grammar is taught deductively, that is, by presentation and study exercises.
The student's native language is the medium of instruction. It is used to explain new items and to enable comparisons to be made between the FL and the student's mother tongue. (G-TM dominated in FLT from the 1840s to the 1940s, and in modified form it continues to be widely used in some parts of the world today).
In the mid- and late nineteenth centuries opposition to G- TM gradually developed in several European countries. This Reform Movement, as it was referred to, laid the foundations for the development of a new way of language teaching and raised controversies that have continued to the present day.
From the 1880s, however, practically minded linguists like Henry Sweet in England, Wilhelm Victor in Germany and Paul Passy in France began to promote their intellectual leadership needed to give reformist ideas greater credibility and acceptance.
The main principles of their theory were:
the study of the spoken language;
an inductive approach to the teaching of grammar;
teaching new meanings through establishing associations within the target language rather than by establishing associations with the mother tongue;
translation should be avoided, although the mother tongue could be used in order to explain new words or to check comprehension.
The idea put forward by members of the Reform Movement had a role to play in developing principles of FLT out of naturalistic approach to language learning. This led to what has been termed 'natural method' and ultimately led to the development of what came to be known as the Direct Method.
In the 1920s and 1930s H.E.Palmer, A.S.Hornby and other British linguists developed an approach to methodology that involved systematic principles of selection (the procedures by which lexical and grammatical content was chosen), gradation (principles by which the organization and sequencing of content were determined), and presentation (techniques used for presentation and practice of items in a course). Their general principles were referred to as the oral approach to language teaching. The characteristic feature of the approach was that new language points were introduced and practised situationally.
Later the terms Structural Situational Approach and Situational Language Teaching came into common usage.
Like the Direct Method, Situational Language Teaching (SLT) adopts an inductive approach to the teaching of grammar. The meaning of words or structures is not to be given through translation in either the native tongue or the target language but is to be induced from the way the form is used in the situation. H.Palmer believed that "if we give the meaning of a new word, either by translation into the home language or by an equivalent in the same language, as soon as we introduced it, we weaken the impression which the word makes on the mind".
Explanation is therefore discouraged, and the learner is expected to deduce the meaning of a particular structure or vocabulary item from the situation in which it is presented.
In 1939 the university of Michigan developed the first English Language Institute in the United States. It specialized in the training of teachers of English as a foreign language and in teaching English as a second or foreign language.
The approach to FLT became known as the Audio-Lingual Method. According to this method FL was taught by systematic attention to pronunciation and by intensive oral drilling of its basic sentence patterns.
The language teaching theoreticians and methodologists who developed Audio-lingualism (Charles Fries, William Moulton) believed that the use of the student's native language should be forbidden at early levels .
Translation as a teaching device may be used where students need or benefit from it. It was one of the principles of Communicative Language Teaching the origins of which are to be found in the changes in the British language teaching tradition dating from the late 1960's.
Looking back from the vantage point of 1990's we can see that the Direct Method, Audio-Lingual and Communicative Methods have their rationale and supporters, yet they are not equally efficient for all learners, and for all teachers, and for all situations.
The methodology must be flexible and electric, based on a careful selection of facets of various methods and their integration into a cohesive, coherent procedure. Of central importance are positive attitudes of learners and teachers; they should permeate all stages of teaching/learning process, make every learning hour a stimulating, motivating experience leading to pleasure and success in language acquisition.
The teacher's pivotal responsibility is to imbue students with confidence and self-esteem, emotional security and a well-integrated personality that will make them life-long learners.
The emerging "paradigm shift" in teaching strategies needs new generalizations which will lead to improved attitudes, and better results in teaching/learning process, which will be beneficial both for learners and teachers alike.
It is difficult to predict whether the Communicative Method will last any longer than its predecessors but it can't be denied that the work of the innovators constitutes a challenge to convention thinking about language teaching, which is unfortunately "stubbornly" adhered by many classroom teachers and teacher-practitioners.
What is current methodology? Do we have to abandon all we have learned of the Audio-Lingual method, the Direct Method (DM), and start anew?