Learning a foreign language is difficult. It can also be difficult to teach the English language to foreigners. Fortunately, there are several different approaches or methods that can be used based on the types of students you have.
In addition, if you can identify your learning style then you will also know the most effective approach for you to learn another language. Here are the 5 main methods that can be used when learning or teaching a language.
Audio-lingual Method – this method is closely related to behaviorism and was founded during the time around World War II. It stresses repetition and memorization of the target language in order to form the habits of using that language. Students listen to the language and are drilled to remember it.
Communicative Approach – this approach is more realistic to learning as it incorporates the elements of communication into learning the target language. Students are taught phrases that appear in typical conversations. Because they are remembering conversations they are better prepared to communicate than students who simply memorized lists of words. This is very similar to the popular Pimsleur Method of learning a language, which has listeners repeat phrases of a new language.
Total Physical Response – this approach encourages students to get involved and physically participate in the instruction. They may play games like Simon Says to learn the actions involved with the game. It is great for kinesthetic students who need to be active and move around in order to maintain attention.
Whole Language Approach – this approach centers on reading and writing in the target language. Students learn the structure of language including parts such as syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. They learn how to use the language by seeing and experiencing it in use. This is great for grammatical and analytical people as it focuses on the structure and rules of a language in order to learn how it is used.
Rassias Method – this method incorporates the use of real physical objects into the learning area and is focused on building confidence. Students interact with everyday items and learn what they are called. In addition, many cultural aspects are included like songs, stories, and movies.
Students are commonly involved in group activities and are encouraged to repeat words many times before they are expected to recall the word. This is the main method that the Concordia Language Villages use. They encourage full immersion and have lots of activities incorporated in their learning structure. In essence, they use many of the learning methods, but this is their core.
It is said that in order for you to learn a language you must first learn how to learn a language. Once you understand how to learn then the actual learning process becomes much easier. This is very true in that when you are able to learn information that coordinates with your learning style then you will learn it much more quickly than if it is unappealing to you.
This is why it is essential to know how you learn and, if you are teaching, make sure you know how your students learn. If you can do this, then your learning experience will be much more enjoyable.