sábado, 5 de fevereiro de 2011

The Audiolingual Method


This paper has as its objective to present the Audiolingual method, pinpointing its features, highlighting how oral production might be reached in the described method.
Along our work, we will also describe and present one class sample applying such method, and as a wrap up comment on its positive and negative aspects, as we see them, as well as our conclusions and experiences as foreign language teachers.
We have decided on sampling the class in Italian in order to provide a more realistic impact on the students, once our whole audience already speaks English. You may find it attached in the end of this paper.
Throughout our thorough research on the origin of the audiolingual method, we came across Richards and Rodgers´s book Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching, 1987, which enlightened us on the background of audiolingual method use.
On their chapter about the Audiolingual method, they describe that in the end of 1950´s, the USA needed to rethink foreign language learning in order not to be left out of the latest technologies (the Soviet Union had launched a satellite).
The USA had also, at that time, become a major international power, therefore there was the need to teach English to foreign students arriving at American universities.
Charles Fries (Michigan University 1989) rejected the approaches which the Direct Method had used ever since, justifying that language learners  “They require drill, drill, and more drill, and only enough vocabulary to make such drills possible"  (Hockett 1959).
The materials produced by Fries and his group were widely used, but it was the linguistic principles of the Oral approach and Skinner´s behaviorist learning theory that emerged the Audiolingual method.
Vera Menezes (2004) tells us that (our translation) “the behavioral psychology is a theory of learning based on the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning that occurs with the interaction with the environment. “
              This method consists in a learning based on three elements: stimulus, response and reinforcement. It is a method seen as a habit formation using the memorization and the learning through dialogs and drills, as stated by Vera Menezes.
The language is learned inside a context, the number of words is limited because it is believed that the learner should have the grammar system first. The books were developed in a gradual difficulty in grammar structures. The learning process was given through the repetition of the same structure and some more nouns that were changed at the same position as that was in the example, according to Richards (2002).
We intend to illustrate this model in an Italian class, using the participation of the peers. We will present the vocabulary and train the structures; attached to this paper.

Based on Richards and Rodgers, a list of key features to elucidate the Audiolingual method follows:
·         Foreign language learning is a process of mechanical habit;
·         Good habits are acquired by giving correct responses rather than by making mistakes;
·         Memorizing dialogues minimizes mistakes;
·          The target language is presented in the oral form first, prior to its written form;
·         Explanation is not given until the learners have practiced the language in a variety of contexts;
·         Drills can enable learners to form a correct analogy;
·         Grammar approach is inductive;
Richards and Rogers describe in their book, the suitable activities for teachers to perform the audiolingual method, here they are listed:
·         Repetition: I know him- I know him.
·         Inflection: She bought the doll.- She bought the dolls.
·         Replacement: Paul drinks water- Paul drinks wine.
·         Completion: I have my book and you… I have my book and you have yours.
·         Expansion: I know him. (hardly)- I hardly know him.
·         Among others.

According to Richards and Rodgers, the teachers´ role is central and active, it´s a teacher-centered-method. The teacher must provide the model pronunciation of the words, so if the teacher is not a native speaker of the target language, s/he should use a tape recorder.
Learners are guided to produce responses. The method focuses on the external process of learning. Learners are reacting to stimuli and are not encourage to initiate interaction, because it may lead to mistakes.
Rivers (1975) apud Fernandes (2004)  mentions that even if the method has reached good results with the purpose of doing the students speak and understand another language, it has shown being very limited and it doesn´t let the student free to use the language from his own thoughts ( our translation).
The Audiolingual Method was developed as a reaction to the Grammar-Translation Method which had been used to teach for thousands of years, but it became totally the opposite to it and couldn´t find a balance between both. Under the light of these authors, who have given us valuable information about the audiolingual method, we shall list the positive and negative aspects of the method, as we, teachers, see them.
Starting with the vocabulary presented in the topics or lessons, we understand that it is not necessarily useful to the students, once it is not elicited from them (students), it is only the necessary vocabulary to make the drills possible. Therefore, the vocabulary might not be relevant to the students, once they had no participation in its choice.
Accuracy must be reached at any cost; correct pronunciation of words rather than fluency or contextualization.
Dialogue memorizing fails to prepare the students for a real life situation, because it does not prepare the learner to improvise.
The dynamic of the class may fall into boredom, since the class starts and ends in a predictable way, preventing the learner from being challenged. The students become too dependent on the models given by the teachers, so people after some time consider the method like “parroting” and stop noticing further progress.
If a positive aspect must be taken into consideration here, maybe it would be the fact that a great percentage of the class is devoted to oral production; there is the feeling of language production regarding the learners.
Speaking and listening are considered the most important competences, over writing and reading.
Our personal experience in the audiolingual method is interesting, because we learned at school using such method at CCAA, and in our lives as language teachers we have already taught at franchising language institutes using the drills of the audiolingual method.
At school, when we were kids, it was the fashionable method, and truth to be told, it turned out to be effective.
We were able to understand the dialogues without any visual help, such as subtitles, or text books; maybe due to the fact that we got involved with the characters and their lives in family and school environment.
The classes happened exactly as described above, and in the end we were given the text and assigned written homework.
It was the ultimate way of learning English, widely spread.
Later in our lives, as language teachers, we faced the franchise language institutes, using some of the drills from the audiolingual method.
We have noticed that it is still being used, widely, and it has been working with real beginners English learners, especially adults, who claim that have started and quit studying a foreign language countless times.
In many sites of forums with people´s opinion we meet who support and recommend the method defending its efficiency because at the first moment the students notice the evolution of their learning in knowing nothing at the beginning and after some classes they are able to know some vocabulary and build some small sentences. The feeling that the method gives to the low level students is that the learning comes fast.
In some moment of the method the students are exposed to more independent situations where the difficulties increase and the students do not know how to deal with it.
Advanced learners would not benefit from such method, because it is not given them the necessary autonomy to communicate in a real situation. At this moment they usually give up because the method does not support them in their real necessities.



Mangiare – comer                                      Bere – beber


pasta – massa                                                         succo - suco
frutta – fruta                                                 acqua - água
riso – arroz                                                   vino - vinho
carne – carne                                                          birra – cerveja
io – eu                                                                      lei – ela
ma – mas                                                     non – não


Buon giorno – Bom dia
Buona sera – Boa noite (chegada)
Buona notte – Boa noite (saída)


Io mangio pasta
Lei mangia frutta.
Io bevo succo.
Lei non beve birra.



Io mangio/Lei mangia

Io bevo/Lei beve


Presentare il vocabolario

Mangiare/Io mangio/pasta/frutta
Lei mangia/riso/carne/pasta

Bere/ Io bevo/succo/acqua
Lei beve/vino/birra
Lei NON beve birra/vino/acqua/succo


Buon giorno
Buon giorno, io mangio/frutta/buona sera

Buona notte, lei non beve/vino/birra


Io mangio pasta/ma non mangio frutta

Lei beve/acqua/ma non beve succo.


Fernandes, José Adjailson Uchôa. Representações de aluno e professor: o método audiovisual para o ensino de inglês como LE. USP, 2004. Available at http://stoa.usp.br/zeuchoa/files/161/478 access on 31/01/2011.

Menezes, Vera. Ensino de vocabulário. Available at www.veramenezes.com/vocabulário. Access on 27/01/2011

PAIVA, V.L.M.O Ensino de vocabulário.In:  DUTRA, D.P & MELLO, H. A gramática e o vocabulário no ensino de inglês: novas perspectivas. Belo Horizonte: Faculdade de Letras/UFMG, 2004.

Richards, Jack C., Renandya, Willy A., Methodology in Language Teaching. An Anthology of Current Practice. Cambridge University Press.2002. Access on 27/01/2011  www.books.google.com 

Richards, J. C. and Rodgers, T.S. Approaches and Methods in language teaching. C.U.P., pp. 44 Richards, J.C. y T.S. Rodgers (1987). The Audiolingual Method. En Approaches and Methods in language teaching (pp. 44-63). Reino Unido: Cambridge University Press.
Fernandes, José Adjailson Uchôa. Representações de aluno e professor: o método audiovisual para o ensino de inglês como LE. USP, 2004. http://stoa.usp.br/zeuchoa/files/161/478 access on 31/01/2011.


Um comentário:

  1. I was looking for some (they did not have to be a lot) positive aspects. I was certainly looking for an article without that much bias. Next time, try to avoid these over suggesting kind of text.