Linguists, such as Henry Sweet (1845-1912)in England,
Wilhelm Viëtor (1850-1918) İn Germany, and Paul Édouard
Passy (1859-1940)in France too became interested in the
controversies that emerged about the best way to teach
foreign languages, and ideas were fiercely discussed and
defended in books( The Practical Study of Languages by H.
Sweet), articles and pamphlets(Language Teaching Must
Start Afresh by W. Viëtor).
Reformers in the late 19th century shared many beliefs
about the principles on which a new approach to teaching
foreign languages should be based.
The Reform Movement
The Direct Method
The late nineteenth-century reformers shared
the following beliefs:
Knowing a language is being able to speak it.
Great stress on correct pronunciation and target language from
Second language learning must be an imitation of first language
learning, as this is the natural way humans learn any language.
The written word / writing should be delayed until after the
printed word has been introduced.
The learning of grammar ductively/ translating skills should be
All above items must be avoided because they hinder the
acquisition of a good oral proficiency.
The Direct Method
Teachers, frustrated by the limits of the Grammar Translation
Method in terms of its inability to create communicative
competence in students, began to experiment with new ways
of teaching language like Direct Method in post-war and
depression era classrooms. This method’s name comes from
the fact that meaning is to be conveyed directly in the target
language. And it’s also called Natural Method as it’s based on
the way children learn their native language.
The Direct Method
Aim: The Direct Method aims at establishing the direct bond
between thought and expressions and between experience and
language. It is based on the assumption that the learner should
experience the new language in the same way as he experienced
his mother tongue.
Its main features are:
1. Only the use of target language is allowed in class,
2. Students are encouraged to think in the target language,
3. Grammar should be taught inductively,
4. This method is based on sound principles of education. It
believes in introducing the particular before general, concrete
before abstract and practice before theory.
5. The teacher should demonstrate not explain or translate,
6. Vocabulary should be learned in full sentences rather than
memorizing word lists,
7. Pronunciation should be worked on right from outset,
8. Self-correction facilitates language learning,,
9. First speaking is taught and then reading and writing,
10. The learner should be actively involved in using the target
language in realistic everyday situation,
11. The syllabus is based on situations or topics, not usually on
12. Objects should be used to help student understand the
A comparison between the Direct Method and the
Grammar Translation Method
1. avoids close association between
the second language and the
2. lays emphasis on speech.
3. follows the child’s natural way of
learning a language.
4. teaches the language by ‘use’
5. does not favour the teaching of
formal grammar at the early
1. maintains close association
between the second language
and the mother tongue.
2. lays emphasis on translation.
3. follows the adult’s natural way of
learning a language.
4. teaches the language by ‘rule’.
5. teaches formal grammar from the
There were many linguists in the 19th century who tried to
apply natural principles of learning language, as a child
does, to the second language classroom.
Among those who best presented the method were
F. Franke: thought a language could best be taught by using
it actively in the classroom.
L. Sauveur: used intensive oral interaction in the target
M. Berlitz : referred to Direct Method used in his school as
the ‘’Berlitz Method’’.
The main guidelines for teaching oral language in
Never translate: demonstrate
Never explain: act
Never make a speech: ask questions
Never imitate mistakes: correct
Never speak with single words: use sentences
Never speak too much: make students speak much
Never use the book: use your lesson plan
Never jump around: follow your plan
Never go too fast: keep the pace of the student
Never speak too slowly: speak normally
Never speak too quickly: speak naturally
Never speak too loudly: speak naturally
Never be impatient: take it easy
Strategies Using Direct Method
Q & A: The teacher asks questions of any nature and the
Dictation: The teacher chooses a grade appropriate passage
and reads the text aloud. Teacher reads the passage three
Reading Aloud: Students take turn reading sections of a
passage, play or dialog out loud.
Getting Students to Self-Correct: The teacher should have
the students self-correct by offering them a choice between
what they said and the correct answer.
Conversation Practise: The teacher asks students a number
of questions in the target language which the students are
able to answer correctly. Later, the students ask each other
their own questions using the same grammatical structures.
Map Drawing: Students are given a map without labeled
then the students label it by using the directions the
Paragraph Writing : The students are asked to write a
passage in their own words. They can do this from memory
or use a reading passage in the lesson as a model.
The Goal of teachers is to encourage students to think in
the target language.
The Role of the teacher is to direct the class activities and
the role of the student is more active than they are in
Grammar Translation Method.
The interactions between ‘’student-teacher’’ can go both
Teacher to students
Students to teacher
The teacher and the students are like partners in the
Students can also converse each other in the target
One of its positive points is that it promises to teach the
language and Not about the language.
It is a natural method which teaches language in the same
way the mother tongue is acquired. Only the target
language is used and the learning is contextulaized.
Its emphasis on speech made it more attractive for those
who have needs of real communication in the target
It is one of the first methods to introduce the teaching of
vocabulary through realias.
In spite of its achievements, the direct method fell short
from fulfilling the needs of educational systems. One of its
major shortcomings is that it was hard for public schools to
integrate it. As R.Brown (1994:56) points out, the Direct
Method ” did not take well in public schools where the
constraints of budget, classroom size, time, and teacher
background (native speakers or nativelike fluency) made
such a method difficult to use.”
After a short popularity in the beginning of the 20th
century, it soon began to lose its appeal because of these
constraints. It then paved the way to the Audiolingual
Larsen-Freeman, D. 2000. Techniques and Principles in
Language Teaching; Oxford University Press.
Richards, J. C.& Rodgers T. S. 2001. Approaches and Methods
in Language Teaching; Cambridge University Press.
Bibliography and Further Reading