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Nobody Gets It The First Time: The Audio-Lingual approach

Updated on April 12, 2012

The behaviorist contributions to language teaching conducted a heavily grammatical view of language teaching, but recent theories suggest that it takes more than grammar to teach a language. Yet, grammar has been one of the fundamental aspects in second and foreign language learning and teaching. In the 1980s there was a movement that suggested that grammar can be acquired naturally in simulated interactive opportunities

The audio-lingual approach is an oral based approach, i.e., the students are drilled on the use of grammatical patterns in meaningful simulated conversations. It is based on the habit formation theory inherited form the behaviorist school (skinner, 1957). The leader of this method is Charles Fries (1975). This method aims to enable the students to use the target language automatically without stopping to think. That can be achieved by over learning the target language. The students overlearn the language to an extent that it becomes a habit.

In an audio-lingual class the teacher is like an orchestra leader providing the students with a good model to follow. The students are simply imitators.

Grammar is induced form a dialogue provided for the students where new vocabulary items are presented with a great emphasis on daily spoken language. The target language must be used extensively in order for this approach to work. Students’ errors are to be kept at a minimum by not presenting difficult vocabulary and limiting them to say what they are taught. The emphasis is on having students produce error free utterances. This method of language learning supports kinesthetic learning styles. Concrete vocabulary is taught through the demonstration of objects and pictures. But, Abstract vocabulary is taught through association of ideas. Whenever, a dialogue is given, the printed word must be kept away as long as possible.

Some techniques of this method are:

1. Dialog Memorization

2. Transformation Drill

3. Complete the Dialog

4. Dictation: important details

5. Flashcards

6. Chain Drill

Although this approach is old and not in harmony with the new theories of language teaching, it is an essential tool to present knowledge in my EFL class. As far as human knowledge is concerned, there's no finite truth, So, I use a mixture of approaches depending on the skill under focus.


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    • English-Central profile image

      Naif Hamed Almutairy 5 years ago from Saudi Arabia

      Thank you. your comment gave me the goosehubs!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Hello English Central, welcome to Hubpages!

      As a site dedicated to writers you article on Grammar is very important and will be highly appreciated by quite a few of us. Thanks for taking the time to share this.

      Happy hubbing!

    • English-Central profile image

      Naif Hamed Almutairy 5 years ago from Saudi Arabia

      you're totally correct. real life language is essential and people who promote the Pimsleur approach made a fortune out of it. watch their promotional video on youtube

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 5 years ago from Andalusia

      I too favour the audio-lingual approach because it is more natural than learning through grammatical rules and their exceptions. I live among a community of English ex-pats in Spain. Those who go to Spanish lessons and know all the verbal conjugations often stop to think and cannot be understood by the locals because they lack fluency and correct pronunciation. Others who don't go to Spanish lessons but mix and speak with the Spanish people learn a lot faster and better.