12 Popular Language Learning Approaches

Learning a new language while working and living in the host country is essential to understand its culture and ways of doing things. The ability to communicate in the host language helps the foreign employees engage better with the working community. Language skills can additionally set you apart from your monolingual peers as this remains to be one of the most demanded competences in the labour market. However, as an adult, getting yourself proficient in a new language is not a piece of cake. Here are 12 most popular and useful language learning approaches to set you on your path.

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1. Direct Method

In the direct method, all instruction is given in the new language, encouraging learners to think in that language. Learners do not practice translating or using their native language in class. This method is believed that learners need to experience a second language without the interference of their native language as if they are learning the first language. In this method, strict rules of grammar are not the focal point, but can be learnt from guidance. This means that learners will understand the grammar rules themselves by practicing the language. The learning goal is to develop the relationship between experience and language by focusing on good pronunciation and developing oral skills. 

Using this method, learners’ comprehension, fluency, reading comprehension and listening competences will be improved. Standard techniques are Q&A, conversation, reading aloud, writing, and self-correction practices.

2. Grammar-translation

With this method, learners study the new language majorly by translating to and from that language, with which learners memorise grammar rules and vocabulary lists while speaking and listening are not emphasised. In this method, the presence of learners’ first or fluent language is dominant. Therefore, the learning goals are to improve their reading comprehension of second language literature and to reinforce the general intellectual capability of learners. The common approach used in this method is grammar exercises and translation practices.

Despite its popularity, this method has significant disadvantages that make it outdated in modern schools. Mainly, students often have difficulty communicating in a second language because they do not receive instruction in speaking skills.

3. Audio-lingual

The auditory method enables learners to form habits that aid in language learning. Learners generally study the new language through pattern exercises, particularly dialogues, which help them practice and memorize language. These dialog windows adhere to common communication practices. This strategy employs four sorts of learning:

  • Repetition – Learners repeat exactly what they hear or are instructed to do.
  • Inflection – One of the words appears in a different form than in the preceding sentence (for example, a verb can be transformed into a noun)
  • Substitution – One word is replaced while the structure of the sentence stays the same
  • Paraphrasing – Learners transform the whole statement

This technique starts with listening and speaking, then moves on to reading and writing, emphasising hearing and speaking before experimenting with its written form. It is an excellent alternative for remote and/or independent language study.

4. Structural Approach

Advocates of the structural approach see language as a collection of grammatical rules that must be acquired sequentially and in a certain order. Rather of memorising language, it focuses on mastering these structures, gaining skill after skill. This is comparable to how young toddlers acquire a new language organically. A structural method may include teaching the present tense of a verb, such as “to be,” before progressing to more complex verb tenses, such as the present continuous using “to be” as an auxiliary.

Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are the four core language skills addressed by the structural method. The simpler grammatical ideas are taught first, followed by the more challenging ones.

5. Total Physical Response (TPR)

Total physical response emphasises auditory understanding by allowing learners to respond to simple orders like “Open the door” or “Sit down.” It mixes verbal with physical movement to provide a comprehensive learning experience. In classroom, the language trainer uses this strategy to offer vocal orders in the new language that are complemented by body motions; learners then reply by doing a physical activity in response to the command, which reflects their understanding on the commands. It enables them to actively connect meaning with language while also passively seeing linguistic structure.

6. Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)

One of the most common techniques and methods of language acquisition is communicative language teaching. In order to properly learn a new language, this technique stresses engagement and conversation. Learners engage in common circumstances that they could experience in the new language, such as initial dialogues, making suggestions, issuing invitations, complaining, providing information on times and places, and so on. Topics other than traditional grammar are introduced to help learners build the learning capacity to react in varied scenarios. Rather than emphasising grammar acquisition, this helps learners attain their major goals by learning to communicate in the target language. Role-playing, interviews, group collaboration, and idea exchange are common activities in communicative language programmes, so are games like scavenger hunts.

7. Natural Approach

This method attempts to emulate natural language development by emphasising exposure dialogue and teaching. The emphasis of this strategy is not on formal grammar teaching. Instead, a stress-free environment is promoted, which eliminates the need for forcing learners’ language development. Teachers that use this strategy do not openly correct their errors. The goal is to lessen learners’ language anxiety and encourage them to work on a second language on their own time. Content techniques that mix different topics, such as problem-solving exercises, educational games, emotive humanistic tasks that include learners’ own ideas, and culture, are widely employed in a natural way.

8. Task-based Language Teaching (TBL)

Learners accomplish the real task in the target language using this strategy. This method enhances fluency by raising student confidence in each completed task and decreasing direct error correction. Tasks are classified into three types:

  • Information-gap actions include the conveyance of data from one person, location, or form to another.
  • A reasoning gap assignment that asks students to uncover new knowledge from a specific collection of material by using reasoning, perception, and deduction.
  • Opinion-gap exercises that allow students to express their thoughts and opinions in response to specific events.

Popular educational tasks accomplished in task-based learning include conducting interviews with peers and adults in the target language or making a poster and presenting a brief presentation about a current issue. The fundamental advantage of TBL is that learners may study the language in whichever method they wish. They can also acquire some awareness and collaborative skills.

9. Suggestopedia Language Learning Method

Georgi Lozanov, a psychotherapist, pioneered this strategy in the 1970s. It was originally known as the positive suggestion technique, but it was eventually shortened to “Suggestopedia”. Aside from providing learners with a pleasant physical setting and a positive classroom atmosphere, the following are some of the primary benefits of language learning method:

  • Identifying the locations where instructors will introduce new grammar and vocabulary.
  • A concert session in which trainers read texts and learners listen to background music. It might be active or passive.
  • A refinement that adds to what the learners have learnt in a play or song.
  • A light-hearted introduction in which the trainers present something new.
  • A performance in which learners talk and engage without interruption or change.

10. Silent Method

Most language classes strive to be as learner-centred as possible. Teachers use this strategy to avoid talking as much as possible, with the premise that learners learn best when they discover things for themselves. Learners are encouraged to be self-sufficient in discovering and understanding the language. Rather than speaking, the teacher communicates via gestures, facial expressions, and objects. It is not practicable to teach the full course silently, but it is undoubtedly beneficial in that it pushes learners to talk more.

11. Functional-notional Approach

This strategy begins by recognising that language is a kind of purposeful communication. People talk because they desire to convey information to others. Nouns and verbs are parts of speech that exist to represent the function or notion of a language. People talk to provide informed consent, to ask questions, to persuade, to rate, and to fulfil a variety of other roles. Language is also used to discuss ideas and terminology like time, events, and locations. The teacher’s responsibility in this strategy is to examine how learners utilise the language or learners themselves discover own goals to study that language. Specific grammatical patterns and vocabulary are essential for learning a new language, but when using a functional method, learners should constantly keep in mind why they need to know these things.

12. The Test Teach Test Approach (TTT)

This method of foreign language learning is perfect for directly addressing the demands of the learners. It is best suited for intermediate to advanced users and should not be utilised by elementary-level learners.

There are three distinct stages:

  • An exam or task in which learners must utilise the target language.
  • Concentrate on clear teaching or precision in controlled exercises.
  • Another exam or exercise to assess learners’ improvement.
  • ESL Speaking. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching: CLT, TPR, Audio-Lingual. Avaiable at: https://eslspeaking.org/approaches-methods-language-teaching/

  • ESL Speaking. ESL Teaching Philosophy: How to Write One. Available at: https://eslspeaking.org/esl-teaching-philosophy/

  • Stevie, D. 10 Flexible Language Teaching Approaches That Are Totally Approachable. Available at: https://www.fluentu.com/blog/educator/language-teaching-approaches/

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