The goal of the direct method of teaching a language is to have students learn how to speak the target language in the same way that they learned to speak their native language, while the goal of the audio-lingual method of teaching is that students should be able to repeat drills and learn a target language through initially memorizing and repeating grammatical forms. In both methods, the spoken target language is emphasized over the written language, and students are expected to only use the target language (not their native language).
The process of teaching using the two methods varies. In the direct method process, students learn the meaning of the target language, and the main emphasis is on vocabulary. Students develop their vocabulary by using complete sentences in lessons focused on one topic or situation. In this method, grammar is taught inductively, and students and teachers are involved in conversation. Students also learn about the culture of people who speak the target language.
In the audio-lingual method of teaching another language, students imitate and repeat dialogues that involve everyday language to learn new vocabulary and structures. The point is to make the dialogues automatic through practice. The main focus is on listening and speaking first, followed by reading and writing. Students learn grammatical forms through the dialogues, and their later writing and reading work is based on their oral work. In this method, students engage in drills and repetition with their teacher. Students learn about the culture of the target language through studying everyday behavior presented in the dialogues.