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

Approach is a broad term that reflects a certain model based on a 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 used in one or more methods (e.g. Using cooperative leaning 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:

  • Instructions are given in native language.
  • 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 mother tongue is frequent.
  • Using English for communication is not encouraged.
  • English is not spoken by the teacher in the classroom.

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.
  • Speaking is postponed until students are ready.
  • Error correction is unnecessary, understanding is most important.
  • Native teachers are preferable in teaching.
  • Audiotapes and videotapes are also used in the classroom.

3. Cognitive Approach:

  • English is rule governed not habit formation.
  • Individualized instruction is done.
  • Grammar taught both deductively (rules first, practice later) and inductively (rules after practice).
  • Pronunciation isn’t emphasized.
  • 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 learner ability to communicate.
  • purpose of language is communication.
  • Content of language and social functions are mainly focused not just linguistic structures.
  • Transferring meaning in pairs and groups.
  • Adjusting the use of English in different social contexts by role plays and dramatizations.
  • Authentic materials are used.
  • All skills from the beginning are developed.
  • Teacher primarily facilitate the communication secondarily correct errors.
  • Teacher uses the target language fluently and appropriately.

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