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Which of the Discussed Classical Approaches Have You Personally Experienced as a Language Learner? What Were Your Impressions and What Is Your Assessment of the Effectiveness of the Approach(es)?

Essay by review  •  March 1, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,609 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,316 Views

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During the last hundred years, English has become the most important language in the world. In the contemporary age, learning any foreign tongue has become both fashionable and necessary. But is there a perfect method which can be applied to achieve the appropriate level of English?

I have been learning English for more than 10 years, but have never realized that there are so many different techniques and approaches to teach English as a second language. While studying, I have noticed that I had experienced some of them at the primary and secondary school. In this essay I would like to present my personal opinions and reflections about the approaches I encountered, the ways they were presented and exploited by my English teachers.

First, I want to concentrate on the Grammar-Translation Method. Personally I think that many teachers use this technique while teaching a foreign language, but they do not even realize it. We may contend that it is the most common method, due to the fact that it is considered to be quite easy. I contend there is nothing more complicated than to give students a passage to translate from one language to another. Is it interesting or challenging for the students? I do not think so. I remember I did a lot of translation at school and that was not my favorite activity. Besides, it was hard for us to find any purpose in them. Apart from that, most of my classmates were simply bored. Sometimes it was too difficult and we had to spend many hours to find the meaning of a particular word in a dictionary. Without a doubt, that was not the way I wanted to learn English. Furthermore, translating a literary text was something entirely useless for me. And although we were rarely exposed to such a translation, I must admit that it was a bit discouraging and exhausting. Another thing that I could not stand was the memorization of long lists of new vocabulary items. I was able to learn a number of words by heart, but not very many. I needed more time to acquire them. The last detail I want to focus on is the application of rules. I can not recall any other way of learning grammar rules than the deductive way. As far as I remember, this technique was quite successful and most of the students did not have serious problems with understanding grammar points. Generally I think that we fancied this method because we were not accustomed to any better. Usually it was the teacher who dictated the rule that we were supposed to write down. Then we were shown some examples which presented both the meaning and the form. The next step was to do several exercises with the use of the target structure. The interaction was mainly reduced to pair or group work. In the end a translation of similar sentences was given as the homework. From time to time we were provided with a set of words and we had to find synonyms or antonyms in the reading passage. In my view, it was a very good idea. I am fond of doing any kind of exercise that allows me to group new words somehow.

As far as the Direct Method is concerned, reading aloud was in a way, a lesson routine. Every time a text occurred in the course book, we were to read it. I do not mind reading and maybe that is why I did not have major problems with it. Meanwhile, some of my colleagues read in such a way that the rest of the class could not understand anything from the text. Yet, I like the way of conveying the meaning by using gestures, demonstration, showing pictures or realia and that is what my English teachers used to do. It unquestionably helped me to understand the language better and to remember it for a longer period of time. Unfortunately, I came across some other problems. For instance some words were ambiguous and sometimes my tutor could not present the meaning of a distinct word or phrase. I have always wanted to accomplish fluency in English. That is the reason why I really enjoyed any kind of communicative activities. Nevertheless, I think that my teachers were in a way afraid of them because they were not used frequently. Still, I can understand their anxiety. Most of the time, they came across singular difficulties. For one thing, the students did not use the target language as they were supposed to and it was quite noisy in the classroom. After such an activity we could not concentrate on anything serious. In addition, some students were extremely shy. Therefore, they could not say anything and as a result they did not participate in the activities at all.

As I have said, I have always wanted to be able to use the target language communicatively. Thanks to the exercises based on the Audio-Lingual Method I had the chance to speak English more often and as a consequence it helped me to acquire fluency. My teachers liked to deal with dialogs but only those which were in the course book. I seldom took part in role plays but that was not the most important for me. I enjoyed the fact that each student had a chance to speak. Drilling was much more interesting for me than writing exercises. The teacher trained us to produce the language automatically and although not everybody understood what they were repeating, drills were treated like games and they gave us a lot of fun.

The most common was the question and answer drill. It was the teacher who usually asked and the student was to give the answer.

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