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Five ELT Approaches Working From The 20th Century Up Till Now

English language approaches that still work now

“Approach” is a broad term that reflects a certain model based on research or theory (e.g. Communicative approach) while a method is a set of procedures compatible with an approach (e.g. Silent way method). A method is more specific than an approach, but a technique is the narrowest term which refers to learning activities in the classroom that the teacher use in one or more methods (e.g. Using cooperative learning activity).

Here are the five English language teaching approaches that prevailed in the 20th century and are still working up till nowadays.

1. Grammar-Translation Approach:

  • The teacher uses the native language to give instructions.
  • Using English is little.
  • Focusing on grammar rather than English language functions.
  • Setting difficult texts for reading from the beginning.
  • Doing translation from English into the mother tongue is frequent.
  • Using English for communication is not the main focus.

2. Comprehension Based Approach:

  • English acquisition appears when learner comprehends meaningful input.
  • Listening comprehension is very important besides speaking, reading, and writing.
  • Listening to meaningful speech is very important.
  • The teacher postpones speaking until students are ready.
  • Error correction is unnecessary, understanding is most important.
  • Native teachers are preferable in teaching.
  • The teacher usually uses audiotapes and videotapes in the classroom.

3. Cognitive Approach:

  • What governs English is rules, not habit formation.
  • The teacher individualizes instructions.
  • Grammar taught both deductively (rules first, practice later) and inductively (rules after practice).
  • The teacher doesn’t focus on pronunciation.
  • Reading and writing are developed as well as listening and speaking.
  • Vocabulary instruction is important especially in intermediate and advanced levels.
  • Errors are inevitable and useful for learning.
  • Teacher must have general ability and proficiency of English language.

4. Situational Approach:

  • Spoken language is primary.
  • English is practiced orally. After an oral base in lexical and grammatical forms reading and writing comes.
  • English should be used in situations.
  • Most general and useful lexical items are to be ensured.
  • Grammatical structures are graded from simple to difficult.
  • Lexical and grammatical items should be given in situations.

5. Communicative Approach:

  • The goal is the learner’s ability to communicate.
  • purpose of language is communication.
  • The students use the content of language and social functions mainly not just linguistic structures.
  • Transferring meaning in pairs and groups.
  • Adjusting the use of English in different social contexts by role-plays and dramatizations.
  • In the classroom, the teacher usually uses authentic materials.
  • The teacher focuses on developing all skills from the beginning.
  • Teachers primarily facilitate communication. Secondarily correct errors.
  • The teacher uses the target language fluently and appropriately.

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