BACKGROUND:During the 1850’s to 1900, Europe experienced a trendaway from the grammar-translation method, based on thenotion that it was not achieving the desired results.Reformers were responding to a need for better languageteaching methods in a time of industrial expansion andinternational trade and travel. The resulting reforms wentunder a variety of names such as the natural method andthe phonetic method, but ultimately all were categorizedunder the name the "Direct Method". In more recent timesthe Direct Method, which almost disappeared as a distinctmethod during the early 1930’s, has become a tool foraiding the beginning stages of teaching a language ratherthan for advanced language learners
The direct-method approach to language teaching (alsoknown as both the natural method and theconversational method) came about as a reaction to thegrammar-translation approach. Whereas the grammar-translation approach was organized around a step-by-step method of learning the rules of a language, oftenthrough the use of the first language, the direct-methodapproach was based on the idea that learners can bestlearn what is “natural” to them and that an aural/oralsystem of teaching them was appropriate for thispurpose. This aural/oral method relied for itseffectiveness on the use of monolingual teaching, thatis, the L2 was the only language used in the class by theteacher and students.
The tenets of the direct-method approach are summarized byRichards and Rogers (2001) as follows:1. Classroom instruction was conducted exclusively in thetarget language.2. Only everyday vocabulary and sentences were taught.3. Oral communication skills were built up in a carefully gradedprogression organized around question-and-answerexchanges between teachers and students in small, intensiveclasses.4. Grammar was taught inductively.5. New teaching points were introduced orally.6. Concrete vocabulary was taught through demonstration,objects, and pictures; abstract vocabulary was taught throughassociation of ideas.7. Both speech and listening comprehension were taught.8. Correct pronunciation and grammar were emphasized.
Gottlieb Heness and Lambert Sauveur were two of thefirst teachers to adopt the direct-method approach in theirteaching in the late nineteenth century in the UnitedStates (see Howatt 1984). Heness and Sauveur opened alanguage school to teach German and French using asystem similar to that described earlier.
The direct-method approach was adopted and madepopular by Maximilian Berlitz (1852–1921). Berlitzfounded a chain of language schools, prepared teachingmaterials, and had the native-speaker instructors in theschools use a direct-method approach in teaching thestudents. The idea behind what was called the Berlitzmethod was that it was “simple, systematic, ordered,and replicable”
CHARACTERISTICS: refrains from using the learners native language uses only the target language. teaching vocabulary through pantomiming, real-life objects and other visual materials teaching grammar by using an inductive approach (i.e. having learners find out rules through the presentation of adequate linguistic forms in the target language) centrality of spoken language (including a native-like pronunciation) focus on question-answer patterns teacher-centering 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.
ROLE OF THE TEACHERS: The role of the teacher is to direct class activities, but students and teacher are partners in the learning process, and there is a large amount of Learner-Learner interaction.ROLE OF THE STUDENTS: the student role is less passive than in The Grammar- Translation Method. The teacher and the students are more like partners in the teaching/learning process.
STRENGTHS: It follows the natural order in which a child learns L1, that is, listening, speaking, reading, writing. It lays great emphasis on speaking, the most important skill for many learners. It avoids the unnatural block of translation in the communication process. Learners learn the language, not about the language. Learners have an active role. Lively classroom procedures motivate the learner. The learning is contextualised. The emphasis on speech make it attractive for those who need real communication in L2. The teaching of vocabulary through realia brings authenticity into the classroom.
WEAKNESSES: Learning L2 is NOT like learning L1. The child learning L1 has no previous language-learning experience, but the learner learning L2 does. There is little systematic structural practice. Learners run the risk of inducing incorrect rules. The method can be effectively used only by teachers who are native speakers. The learner is confronted with unstructured situations too soon. A great deal of teacher-energy is required.
CONCLUSION: Direct method is very effective to use the English language by the teacher to implement in their class. The students can understand easily if the teacher uses direct method because this method enhances the communication skills of the students.o Focuses on the listening skills of the learners.