The Development of Language Teaching

Adapted from Shrum and Glisan (2010) on pages 481-484


Grammar-Translation Method (GTM)

Approx. 1600 - Approx. 1890

Influence of teaching of Latin and Classical Greek- "The mind needs to be trained by analysis of rules, paradigms; application of these rules in translation exercises (Chastain, 1988)." Uses translation, memorization, explicit grammar rules, bilingual word lists, little emphasis on oral skills.

Direct Method

Approx. 1890 - Approx. 1940

Reaction to Grammar-Translation Method-"Learners should acquire rules of grammar inductively through imitation, repetition, speaking and reading. The best way to teach meaning is to use visual perception (Chasten, 1988). Exclusive use of L2, while L1 is forbidden; use of visuals; inductive teaching of grammar rules; emphasis on correct pronunciation.

Skinner's Operant Conditioning


Audiolingual Method (ALM)

Approx. 1940 - Approx. 1960

Result of Behavioral Psychology and Structural Linguistics/National Emphasis on Oral Skills-"L2 should be taught without reference to L1". Students learn through stimulus-response (S-R) techniques. Pattern drills should precede any explanation of grammar. The natural sequence of LSRW (listening, speaking, reading, writing) should be followed in learning the language (Chasten, 1988). Derives from behaviorist beliefs; stimulus-response pattern drills; dialogue memorization; correction a must; comparison of L1 and L2; exclusive use of L2; grammar rules learned through induction; skills learned in the LSRW order; focus on culture. Proponents: Skinner, Bloomfield

Noam Chomsky's Innate Hypothesis


Cognitive (Code)

Approx. 1960 - Approx. 2015

Reaction to ALM- "Learners must attain control over the rules of the target language so they can generate their own utterances. The teacher should move from known to new information. Creative use of the language should be promoted. Grammar should be explained so that students understand the rules. Language practice should always be meaningful (Chasten, 1988)." meaningful language use; deductive teaching of grammar in native language; grammar practice follows mechanical, meaningful, communicative sequence. Proponents: Chomsky, Ausubel

Total Physical Response (TPR)

1974 - 2015

Result of Studies in First Language Acquisition "Comprehension must be developed before speaking. Speech will emerge naturally as students internalize language. Learners learn to understand best through physical movement in response to commands (Asher, Kusudo, & de la Torre, 1974). Listening and responding physically to oral commands for the first ten hours of instruction; exclusive use of target language; creative language use. Proponent: Asher

Community Language Learning

1976 - 2015

Focus on Development of Individual Humanistic Methods- "The teacher, in the role as "knower" or "counselor", should remain passive in order to reduce anxiety among students. Learners learn when working in community with others who are trying to achieve similar goals (Curran, 1976). Translation by teacher from native language to target language in early lessons; theme of each class determined by learners; analysis of group conversations from tape

Focus on Proficiency

Approx. 1980 - 2015

"Knowing a language means being able to use it in communication. Learners use the language to perform the functions in a range of contexts and with a level of accuracy in grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, fluency, and pragmatic competence, and sociolinguistic competence." Opportunities for self-expression and creativity; use of language in a variety of contexts; exposure to authentic texts; interaction with others; integration of culture and language. Proficiency Guidelines established

Natural Approach

Approx. 1980 - 2015

Result of Studies in First Language Acquisition- "Learners should acquire language before being forced to learn it. Affective factors merit much attention in language instruction. Learners need to acquire a great deal of vocabulary to understand and to speak (Terell, 1982). Creative, communicative practice; limited error correction; "foreigner talk"; acquisition activities: comprehension, early speech production, speech emergence; inductive teaching of grammar.

Focus on Standards

Approx. 1990 - Approx. 2015

Opportunities to use the language as a vehicle for learning content; integration of skills and culture; interaction with others by means of technology; exploration of cultural products and practices and their relationships to cultural perspectives

ESL Standards for PreK-12


TESOL Standards (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
"informed in part by the work that was then underway to develop foreign language standards"

PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards


TESOL 2006-

WIDA Consortium

2007 - 2015