"Chapter 1. A brief history of language teaching."

(key words)

Grammar-Translation, Gouin, Series Method, reform movement, IPA, Direct Method, Natural Method, Berlitz, Coleman Report

Grammar-Translation Method

dominated European and foreign language teaching from the 1840s to the 1940s.

has no advocates, no theory, no support from linguistics, psychology and educational theory


  1. to read literature in a foreign language
  2. to benefit from mental discipline

accuracy is emphasized

deductive learning

L1 is the medium of instruction

Language teaching innovations in the 19th century

  1. C. Marcel
  2. T. Prendergast
  3. F. Gouin


The Reform Movement

From 1880s, practically minded linguists (Henry Sweet in Britain, Wilhelm Vietor in Germany, Paul Passy in France)

the International Phonetic Association founded in 1886

Reformers believed that:

  1. spoken language is primary
  2. the findings of phonetics should be applied to teaching and to teacher training
  3. learners should hear the language first, before seeing it in written form
  4. words should be presented in sentences, and sentences should be practiced in meaningful contexts
  5. grammar should be taught inductively

The Direct Method

Natural Method

L. Sauveur

language could be taught without translation or the use of the learner's native tongue if meaning was conveyed directly through demonstration and action

theoretical justification was given by F. Franke

the Direct Method was introduced in France and Germany and officially approved in both countries)

In the USA, Sauveur and Maximilian Berlitz (see Supplement 2) used the Direct Method


  1. strict adherence to the method principles was often counter- productive, since teachers were required to go to great length to avoid using the native tongue
  2. required teachers who were native speakers or nativelike speakers
  3. lacked a thorough methodological basis

(in Europe) the use of DM in noncommercial schools had declined by the 1920s

(in the U.S.A.) implementing DM in the schools were moved with caution

Coleman Report (1929) --- reading knowledge was considered as a more reasonable goal of foreign language learning

Subsequent developments led to:

  1. Audiolingualism (USA)
  2. Oral Approach (UK)
  3. Situational Language Teaching (UK)

Further Reading

Titone, R. (1968). Teaching Foreign Languages: An Historical Sketch. Georgetown University Press.


Supplement 1

I walk to the door.I walk.

I draw near to the door. I draw near.

I draw nearer to the door.I draw nearer.

I get to the door.I get to.

I stop at the door.I stop.

I stretch out my arm.I stretch out.

I take hold of the handle.I take hold.

I turn the handle.I turn.

I open the door.I open.

I pull the door.I pull.

The door moves,moves

The door turns on its hinges.turns

The door turns and turns.turns

I open the door wide.I open.

I let go of the handle.let go.

Supplement 2

Never translate: demonstrate

Never explain: act

Never make a speech: ask questions

Never imitate mistakes: correct

Never speak with single words: use sentences

Never speak too much: make students speak much

Never use the book: use your lesson plan

Never jump around: follow your plan

Never go too fast: keep the pace of the student

Never speak too slowly: speak normally

Never speak too quickly: speak naturally

Never speak too loudly: speak naturally

Never be impatient: take it easy

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