LINGUIST List 23.3613

Tue Aug 28 2012

Review: Applied Linguistics; Language Acquisition: Bateman & Lago (2011)

Editor for this issue: Rajiv Rao <rajivlinguistlist.org>



Date: 28-Aug-2012
From: Laleh Moghtadi <l_moghtadiyahoo.com>
Subject: Methods of Language Teaching
E-mail this message to a friend

Discuss this message

Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/22/22-2809.html
AUTHOR: Blair Bateman, Baldomero LagoTITLE: Methods of Language TeachingPUBLISHER: RoutledgeYEAR: 2011

Laleh Moghtadi, Azad University (Iran)

SUMMARY

The first two chapters of this book contain an ‘Introduction’ and ‘Questions forObservation and Thought.’ The other ten chapters cover the following methods:The Grammar-Translation Method, the Audio-lingual Method, the CognitiveApproach, Total Physical Response (TPR), the Natural Approach, CommunicativeLanguage Teaching, Teaching Proficiency and Reading through Storytelling (TPRS),Content-Based Instruction / Content and Language Integrated Learning, Task-BasedInstruction, and the Lexical Approach. All chapters except the first two followa standard format; the 'Historical Background' section historicallycontextualizes each method by showing how each method emerged and developed andwent into and out of favor with those in the field.

The introductory chapter explains the rationale behind the writing of the bookand provides a justification for including two largely rejected methods by theprofession (i.e. the Grammar Translation Method and the Audio-lingual Method)while excluding other methods (e.g. Suggestopedia, the Silent Way, and CommunityLanguage Learning/Counseling Learning) based on the practicality of the methods’application for current classroom settings, and the availability of a skilledteacher to demonstrate the methods.

The second chapter, ‘Questions for Observation and Thought,’ poses ten questionsfor language teachers to consider after reading the description of a particularmethod and observing its accompanying video. The specific points discussed areas follows:

1. Which of the three views of language (a structural view, a functional view,and an interactional view) do you think this particular method espouses? Explainyour answer.2. On what theory or theories of language learning does this particular methodseem to be based? Why?3. What is the syllabus of this particular method organized around?4. What types of materials (such as textbooks, handouts, Internet-basedmaterials, realia, etc.) does this particular method use?5. What roles (such as responding to the teacher's questions, drawingcomparisons between L2 and L1, participating in pair and/or group activities,communicating ideas and feelings in the language, taking responsibility fortheir own learning, etc.) does this particular method require of learners? Whatwould it be like to be a student in a classroom where this method was used?6. What roles (such as providing comprehensible input in the language, tellingstories, providing opportunities for interaction in the language, providingauthentic oral or written texts, etc.) does this particular method requireteachers to assume? How would these roles compare with those of other methods interms of the demands placed on teachers and the expertise required of them?7. What elements of the standards (such as the American Standards for ForeignLanguage Learning or ESL Pre-K-12 Standards, the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines,the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, the Canadian LanguageBenchmarks, or similar regional or local standards) does this method address?Are there any elements that it neglects?8. What are the overall strengths and weaknesses of this method? What aspects oflanguage learning and use does it emphasize? Are there aspects that are notaddressed by the method? What learning outcomes might be expected from the method?9. Does this method give attention to the learning of culture? If so, how isculture addressed? If not, are there ways in which it might be easily incorporated?10. How do the tenets of this method fit with your own philosophy of languageteaching and learning?

The next section, entitled 'Theory of Language Learning,' provides the languagetheory and the learning theory underlying each method, the goals of each method(e.g. one of the goals of the Grammar-Translation Method is to develop theability to read literature in the target language), the key concepts introducedin each method (e.g. one key concept of the cognitive approach is thedistinction between meaningful learning and rote learning), the premises uponwhich each method is based (e.g. TPR is based on the premise that human beingsare biologically programmed to learn languages; Communicative Language Teachingis based on the fact that language is a tool for communication and that studentslearn language by using it to communicate), the rationale behind each method(e.g. Content-based instruction is based on the rationale that ''people learn asecond language more successfully when they use the language as a means ofacquiring information, rather than as an end in itself'' (Richards & Rodgers,2001: 207)).

The 'Classroom Activities' section provides an explanation of how a typicallesson could be organized. For example, the main activities in a class based onthe TPRS method present new vocabulary words along with their Englishtranslation, introduce a story, provide repeated exposure to new vocabularythrough asking multiple questions after introducing each new sentence of thestory (e.g. after introducing the sentence ''The girl wants to have a dog,'' theteacher might ask ''Does the girl want to have a dog? Who wants to have a dog?What does the girl want to have? Does the boy or the girl want to have dog? Doesthe girl want to have a dog or a cat?''), and address grammar by providingmultiple repetitions of grammatical features in stories (e.g. a German teachermight contrast third person singular and plural verb endings by asking ''Whatdoes the t in kommt do? What does just komm mean without the t? Or what does theen in kommen do? What does just komm mean without the en?'').

In the last section, 'Notes on the Video', the authors attempt to describe aclass being filmed and give some information to language teachers about thecharacteristics of the class, the teacher, the lesson, teaching and learningactivities, etc. For example, the description ''the lesson begins by introducingvocabulary words and associated actions, and then contextualizing these words ina simple story. The story is followed by a vocabulary quiz, a group reading ofanother story using similar vocabulary, and finally, the writing and telling ofstudents' own original stories'' deals with a class in the TPR Storytellingmethod. Furthermore, the authors try to include a variety of languages (such asAttic Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and English) and levels (suchas beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels or a first-semester class inhigh school) in the videos. For example, the description ''the lesson in thevideo shows a first-year class in Attic Greek (a dialect of ancient Greece)taught by Dr. Bill Tortorelli of Brigham Young University'' deals with a class inthe Grammar-Translation Method.

EVALUATION

The main audience of this book is trainee teachers. Therefore, it is intended toappeal to language teachers interested in language teaching methods.

The distinctive feature of this book is its video demonstration of classroomactivities associated with each method/approach. The videos are well filmed, thesound quality is clear and the navigation within the videos is easy. The authorsattempt to include a variety of languages, levels, activities, and a variedpicture of teaching styles in the videos. The teachers included in the videosare all energetic and vibrant, especially those who teach lessons based ontask-based instruction and TPR storytelling methods. Such exposure provides askillful model of target language classroom interactions for new and beginnerteachers. However, in my opinion, what makes the video based on task-basedinstruction more effective than the other videos is having more studentinvolvement and participation in the class, more negotiation, and moreteacher-student interaction. The teacher provides opportunities for students tospeak and listen to the language for communicative purposes. Information gapactivities, role plays, and decision making tasks are frequently used.

Since commonly used textbooks on teaching methods (to the best of my knowledge)merely include written descriptions of each method, providing videos along withthe written descriptions is particularly useful to both audio and visuallearners, which may help learners more easily visualize what does and does notwork well. Moreover, supplementing the written descriptions with the videos mayhelp students connect theory to practice in order to fully understand eachmethod and decide which is the most appropriate method/approach for them andtheir program.

The authors attempt to provide a historical context for each method/approachthrough an explanation of when, how, and why each method/approach developed, aswell as its advantages and disadvantages, without labeling any method/approachas 'good' or 'bad'. Therefore, they achieve their goal of preferring to letteachers and students think critically and ultimately individually makedecisions about shortcomings and advantages of each method/approach. To achievethis goal, the authors have included a separate 'Questions for Observation andThought' section that language teachers ponder after reading the description ofa particular method and observing the video.

At first, the book seems too light to serve as a textbook in a TESL/TEFLmethodology course. It seems that learners need to go into more details for eachmethod in a TESL methodology course. But the succinct discussion of the tenmethods/approaches is still useful, not necessarily for comprehensive coverage,but rather for quick reviews and summaries.

In sum, this clearly written book of language teaching methods would most aptlybe used to supplement a methods textbook for a foreign language teaching methodscourse.

Note: This review was done from a CD of the book, and thus page numbers were notavailable.

REFERENCES

Larsen-Freeman, Diane. 2000. Techniques and principles in language teaching (2ndedn). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richards, Jack. C. & Theodore S. Rodgers. 2001. Approaches and methods inlanguage teaching (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Laleh Moghtadi is a Ph.D. candidate in English language teaching. She is currently a lecturer teaching English at Azad University in Iran. Her research interests include applied linguistics, discourse analysis, language acquisition, and language teaching.


Page Updated: 28-Aug-2012