Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching

Teaching language

There is a distinction between language learning theory and its application. This can be split into three (Anthony):

  • Approach → Correlative assumptions dealing with language learning
  • Method → Plan for the ordered presentation of language learning material, based upon approach
  • Technique → Implementation of method/s to achieve learning objective

Theories of Language

  • Cognitive Theory: Language reflects implicit proprieties of the human mind. According to (Attkinson):
    • can be thought of as mind as a set of operators used to produce an output
    • that the brain creates an internal representation of external events (representationalism)
    • that learning is the process of abstract knowledge acquisition, and that humans have an innate “universal grammar” (Chomsky) where language principles are universal but the parameters vary.
  • Structual: Language is a system of structurally-related elements used for coding meaning (e.g. phonemes, clauses-phrases-sentences, operations, lexical terms.) Learning is knowing these and how to combine them.
  • Fuctional: Language is a vehicle for expression of real-world activities (Brown). Used in English for Specific Purpose (ESP) and Common European Framework of Reference
  • Interactional Model: Language is a vehicle for realisation of interpersonal relations (links to conversation analysis and ethnomethodology). Students achieve language facility when they send/receive messages interesting to both in relevant setting (Rivers). Leads to Task-based learning and CLIL.
  • Socialcultural model: Language is a communicative model in which social context is central.
  • Genre model: Human activity has norms. Genre is how language is used inside these norms. Text ares units of discourse that occur inside genres.
  • Lexical model: Lexis (words), lexical chunks, and the interrelation of grammar and vocabulary lead to grammatical competence and thus language.

Theories of Language Learning

  • Behaviourism: Learning occurs in response to specific positive or negative stimuli. It comes from habit formation, repitition and reinforcement.
  • Cognitive-Code Learning: People are taught grammatic rules which are then applied in practice. LEarning comes from the cognitive processing and mental effort of making these constructions.
  • Creative Construction: Learning is a creative process
  • Skill Learning: Skills are integrated behaviour sets which are learnt then combined and performance. There are two types: controlled processing (active combination) and automatic (automatic).
  • Interactional Theory: Learning comes from negotiating meaning in an interactive process
  • Constructivist: Cognitive and social aspects are important. Meaning is made by creating internal models of the world.
  • Socialcultural Learning: Learning is situated in time, space, experience. Learning is guided by an experience other, who provides scaffolding (Rogoff) which is removed as learning happens
  • Individual Factors: Pay attention to learning preferences, affective factors, motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic).