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The Audio-Lingual method and the Grammar-Translation method are two strategies and interventions that can be used for the teaching of second and foreign languages. They are both methodologies that go back as early as World War II and are quite accepted, but not prompted with the same popularity as modern methodologies such as Differentiated Instruction, Understanding by Design (UbD), and the use of Multiple Intelligences to guide instruction.
The Audio Lingual Method (ALM) , also known as the Aural approach, consists on teaching a second or foreign language through specific sentence and grammar building tools via repetition, listening, and answering in complete sentences. Audio-Lingual, literally, means listening (audio) and speaking (lingo). Therefore, it is the process of acquiring language and repeating it forward as a way to understand its structure and syntax. The benefit of the ALM is that it advocates for the consistent use of the target language to build and create a habit of speaking it (full immersion). Furthermore, it emphasizes in spoken language rather than written language in order to make it naturally acquired. Although the ALM does agree in that language can be acquired in a cultural context, it bases its foundation on the making of connections inter-linguistically, that is, understanding the roots of languages in order to make out what one word means. Analysis is not the aim of the ALM, as it is purely a behavioral process. This is different from the Grammar Translation method.
The Grammar Translation Method (GTM) as the name implies is a process of literal word translation that involves memorization, drills, and translation of text and written material. The idea is that the interpretation can be acquired through the process of translation because we would be able to make the necessary connections that will help us understand what we are translating. This is quite a limited scope to the process of second language (L2) learning and reduces the intellectual and cognitive abilities of the learner to a mere two-step process. The only shared concept that is somewhat similar to the ALM is that they both contend that people can learn a language by comparing one to another. However, it is accepted that such is not the case: That, actually, this is merely a fragment of the process.
For current practices, try to get more into a differentiated instruction setting where students take an interest inventory. Once you read the inventory you would be able to discern what kind of student you have, and what is the linguistic field that the student is ready for. If a student is an apprentice (mid level) learner an audiolingual method could work, but it is still not considered a modern method for learning languages. Grammar translation is totally outdated at this point and is not recommended for 21st century instruction. Differentiation is key.
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