Language learning and teaching is dynamic and fluid.
There is nothing fixed about them (Larsen-
Freeman, 2004: 186).
Unlike the teaching of other subjects –
Math, Physics, etc. which have by and large remained
the same, the ELT tradition has been subject to
tremendous change especially throughout the
The whys and wherefores of the
paradigm shifts in ELT
Approximately, every decade a new approach or
methodology comes into practice.
Particularly, the period from the 1950s to 1980s has
often been referred to as “The Age of Methods”
during which a number of quite detailed prescriptions
for language teaching were proposed.
All the methods have had their glory days.
As elements of Computer-Aided Language Learning
(CALL) began to grow, the very need for human
teachers came briefly into question.
Many theorists, linguists, language
researchers, educational psychologists
and a sea of teachers have contributed
to our knowledge and understanding of
the language teaching and learning
i. Many new approaches
are rediscoveries of old
methods neglected but re-
• A few of the many major events, trends and
theories which shaped ELT during the past
ii. Gardner (1993) proposed a theory of Multiple
Intelligences in general education but was later
applied to language teaching .
This opened the way to more diversity of activities
focused on the students themselves and their innate
skills, preferences and abilities.
This consequently led to the concept of learner
centeredness realizing the individual differences.
Student-centered teaching and learning-based
courses, texts and programs developed at an
iii. Noam Chomsky’s theory of Transformational
Generative Grammar (1957) gave us greater
insights into language learning vs. language
His criticism on B.F. Skinner’s theory of
learning truly brought a revolution in the
arena of general learning as well as in
iv. Krashen’s theory of Second Language Acquisition
deepened our insights into language acquisition
v. Asher’s Total Physical Response claimed a
successful adult second language learning as a
parallel process to child’s first language
vi. Crossovers from the general educational trends
such as Cooperative Learning, Whole Language
Approach, and Neuro-linguistic Programming have
influenced language teaching and learning
vii. Content-based, task
learning and genre-based
language through meaning
With the facility of e-communication, it has been
possible for the English language teachers/
practitioners to network and enrich their teaching.
This has enabled the teachers to share their
experiences and develop their profession.
The Special Interest Group (SIG), Support Groups,
discussion, chat room, etc. have contributed to the
enhancement of teachers’ careers.
Networking has also enabled teachers not to
depend upon theories and methods
prescribed by the methodologists and to try
out as have been practiced by others.
Online ELT resources are growing
rapidly, newsletters on ELT are being used
more by both the teachers and students.
Method synergetics or eclecticism
It is crossbreeding of ‘elements of various methods to
find those practices which best support effective
If we view classroom practices, we find teachers not
blindly depending on a particular method of teaching
prescribed but the ELT practitioners often practice the
hybrid of more than one method of teaching.
Give a man a fish
He eats for a day
Teach him to fish
He eats for the whole life.
A trend in ELT today has been to make the students independent
Today, a school of thought has developed with the purpose of
equipping learners with appropriate learning strategies to take
the responsibility for self-direction.
The students are trained in the use of learning
strategies in order to improve their learning
Learners learn how to learn.
Cooperative Learning Methodologies and Multiple
Intelligences Theory teach learners different
learning strategies to apply while learning a
English language teachers all over the globe seem to have
realized that gone are the days when teachers deliver
lectures in front of their pupils who just sit as passive
Learner centeredness is the demand of the time.
That is why language teachers have to play the role of
facilitators in the classroom, not authorities.
As a matter of fact, pupils learn by doing in pairs and
This is about teachers’ questioning and exploring
their own practice of teaching.
It is a sort of systematic curiosity about going beyond
the edges of what we know and do, to find out how
we could do things differently or better
Reflecting upon our own way of teaching
tremendously helps the teachers improve the
One key trend in English teaching profession
linked to the growing interest in global
education is rethinking of basic educational
goals, the way of English education.
A growing number of educators are now
starting to discuss what the aims of English
language teaching should be.
Educators have argued that there is a need
for an approach to language education
that aims at fostering a sense of social
responsibility in students.
A growing number of educators are now
beginning to discuss global issues and
concerns in relation to language teaching
What are we doing for the earth?
Global peace and environmental issues
intrinsically affect every human being on
We, as English language teachers have a
mission of helping everyone in this world to
communicate with each other to prevent the
global disaster ahead.
Today, English language teachers seem to have
realized that conferencing is one of the best means of
English language teachers in almost all countries have
established their professional organizations; and they
organize and participate in different kinds of
seminars, workshops, training, and conventions in
order to grow academically and professionally.
Gone are the days when English language teachers
make the students parrot the rules of the language
and use them in making sentences either in speech or
Instead, recently the teachers of English have begun
to involve their pupils in grammaring rather than
Larsen-Freeman (2007) claims it to be the fifth skill
of language that incorporates the ability to use
grammar structures accurately, meaningfully and
appropriately for one’s communicative purposes.
Here grammar is seen as more of a process than a
Grammar lessons are no longer about knowing
language systems (declarative knowledge), but
about knowing how to use language (procedural
ELT practitioners today update their
knowledge of the language as well as the
methodology in various ways such as reading
journal, participating in training, seminar
workshops, enrolling in graduate
Surfing ELT websites also enables the teachers
to update their knowledge of trends and
techniques around the world.
Academic qualifications once acquired are not
enough for the teachers in anyway to teach
language effectively forever.
They need to go along the demand of the time
and current practices.
Locally produced materials
Today, countries around the globe have
realized that instructional materials produced
in one country may not be effective in other
Teaching materials in the form of textbooks
work texts and other reference materials
should suit the users’ soil, culture, and values.
Imported language teaching
materials are in no way practicable
in the context where they are not
produced keeping into
consideration the local needs.
Sharing with a colleague
Informal discussions with a colleague with
whom the teachers feel easy can add a lot to
one’s professional development as well as
heighten his/her morale.
The teacher who wishes to find a solution to a
teaching problem, speaks in confidence about
a failure, get an idea as to how to teach a
language item effectively.
The methodologists have ever been in search of
more effective method of teaching foreign
languages or second languages.
One method is embraced as an improvement over
Nevertheless, no method has been a panacea for
the solution of ELT problems.
This is why, a pessimistic view has been
developed among the methodologists
Methods do not matter because they do
not exist. Thee era of method is over.
ELT, therefore, is now in ‘post method
Whereas on the one hand, the ELT
practitioners have been keeping update
their profession going in line with the
current trends in ELT, a large mass of English
language teachers have not been able to
follow the trends due to lack of resources
available to them, which in turn have
developed a sense of frustration in them.
Particularly, the teachers working in the
hinterlands have been deprived of the online
resources, conferencing and unaware of the
emerging trends in the field and consider
themselves to be underprivileged.
The future is quite uncertain. Nevertheless, no one
can stop us from predicting the future.
Pondering on the existing trends and a wave of
change, we can make a sensible guess that we are
moving from simplicity to complexity, from
uniformity to diversity, from prescriptivism to
eclecticism, from oneness to pluralism, from
customary to embryonic ways of doing things, more
towards flexibility, practicality and towards
refinement of current practices in order to make a
There is no single most excellent
way of teaching languages.
The successful language teacher
will not confine himself/herself to
only a single method.
Nonetheless, ELT practitioners have not
remained reliant on fixed prescribed
and imposed practices.
Instead, ELT practitioners around the
globe put into practice a great deal of
diverse activities to keep themselves
up-to-date and enhance their practices
which have been dealt above.