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