Different people will choose different methods of teaching new languages depending on the convenience they attribute to the method. The direct method has been a common preference for many people due to its direct contact with the student and its ability to ensure that the content is clearly understood by the learner.
In this method the teaching is done entirely in the target language (Stewart et al. 120). The direct method emphasizes more on good pronunciation and avoids grammar rules as well.
Also known as the natural method, the direct method entails a full participation of the students in terms of listening and speaking of the language. In terms of the process, the direct method involves the gradual acquisition of the vocabularies and the grammatical structure as well. Here, the learner is taught to think more in terms of the target language, as opposed to the use of translation.
Principles of the direct teaching method
The direct method relies on a number of factors for it to be effective. It is based on the following principles (qtd. in Englemann 90):
Classroom instructions are conducted exclusively in the target language.
Only everyday vocabulary and sentences are taught during the initial phase; grammar, reading and writing are introduced in intermediate phase.
Oral communication skills are built up in a carefully graded progression organized around question-and-answer exchanges between teachers and students in small, intensive classes.
Grammar is taught inductively.
New teaching points are introduced orally.
Concrete vocabulary is taught through demonstration, objects, and pictures; abstract vocabulary is taught by association of ideas.
Both speech and listening comprehensions are taught.
Correct pronunciation and grammar are emphasized.
Student should be speaking at least 80% of the time during the lesson.
Students are taught from inception to ask questions as well as answer them.
Reasons for preference of the direct method
Experienced teachers have clearly explained that in order for a student to understand, what matters is not the teacher but the teaching method used by the teacher. The direct method works well with the instructor because it gives him the chance to give instructions in the target language.
This enables the student, too, to learn the language faster because they get used to hearing the same language for long and therefore they develop good speaking skills by hearing every word from the instructor’s mouth (Swanson and Sachse-Lee 125). It is also an active teaching method; where the instructor interacts directly in the same language with the student, and he can easily identify the areas where the student needs more attention.
In actual teaching, I would mostly borrow and encourage the aspect of asking and answering questions. It is a very helpful method of interactive teaching. The students ask questions and their fellow colleague’s responds to them, since the higher percentage of the class time should be taken by the students speaking in the target language (Mills et al. 94).
The teacher answers the ones which challenge the students. It points out the areas where the students have understood and the areas where they still have difficulties in understanding. This gives a hint to the teacher on the areas he should put more emphasis on (Kim and Axelrod 112).
On addressing the questions for a second time the teacher may then decide to issue a written test to gauge the students’ performance and level of understanding. It therefore ensures that all the students understand the course content and they have an opportunity to ask questions in the difficult areas.
Englemann, Siergfried. ‘Relating operant techniques to programming and teaching’. Journal of School Psychology, 6 (1968): 89-90.
Kim, Thomas and Axelrod, Saul. ‘Direct Instruction: An Educators’ Guide and a Plea for Action’. The Behavior Analyst Today, 6.2 (2005): 111-113.
Marchand-Martella, Nancy and Martella, Ronald. ‘An Overview and Research Summary of Peer-Delivered Corrective Reading’. The Behavior Analyst Today, 32 (2002): 214-21.5.
Mills, Puelette, Cole, Kelvin, Jenkins, Joseph. and Dale, Philip. ‘Early exposure to Direct Instruction and subsequent juvenile delinquency: a prospective examination’. Exceptional Children, 6.9 (2002): 85-97.
Stewart, Robert, Martella, Rachel, Marchand-Martella, Nancy and Benner, George. ‘
Three-Tier Models of Reading and Behavior’. JEIBI, 2.3 (2005): 115-123.
Swanson, Henry and Sachse-Lee, Chris. ‘A Meta-Analysis of Single-Subject-Design
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