The Quest for New Methods

The teaching of English as a second language or foreign language became an increasingly important activity after World War II. The role of English as a language of international communication had expanded rapidly by the 1950’s.

English was increasingly important in international trade and commerce. All of these developments supported the need for a practical command of English for people in many parts of the world than an academic mastery of the language as one might acquire in a typical school course.

The initial response of the English language teaching was to explore new directions in methodology. Linguistics was a source of theories about in the cause of new “scientifically based” teaching methods. The 1950s and 1960s in language teaching were hence times of methodological excitement. In Britain applied linguists developed a methodology that drew on oral approach that had been developed in the twenties and thirties linked in a carefully graded grammatical and lexical syllabus. The methodology had the following characteristics:


A structural syllabus with graded vocabulary levels


Meaningful presentation of structures in contexts through the use of situations to contextualized new teaching points


A sequence of classroom activities that went from Presentation, to controlled Practice, to freer Production (the PPP method)


This became known as the situational approach or the structural – situational approach or Situational Language Teaching and was the main stream teaching method in British language teaching circles from the 1950s. In1950s : Unglish taught in The structural situational approach, also used in Australia as the basis for English teaching programs for immigrants. 1960s       : In the United States , language teaching was also under the sway of a powerful method- the Audiolingual Method, Stern (1974,63) describes the period from 1958 to 1964 as the “ Golden Age of Audiolingualism”.

The linguist Bloomfield (1942, 12) had earlier stated a principle that became a core tenet of audiolingualism: “Language learning is overlearning : anything less is of no use .”  Rivers (1964) stated the assumptions of audiolingualism as :


 Habits are strengthened by reinforcement


Foreign language habits are formed most effectively by giving the right response, not by making mistakes


Language is behavior and behavior can be learned only by inducing the student to behave


Lado’s Lado English Series (Lado 1978) is based on this approach. A similar method was developed in Europe and became known as the Audiovisual Method because of its use of visual means for presenting and practicing new language items.The fascination with methods and the quest for the best method remained a preoccupation of language teaching for the next 20 years.Lange observes (1990, 253): Foreign language [teaching] ….has a basic orientation to methods of teaching. Unfortunately the latest bandwagon “methodologies” come into prominence without much study or understanding, particularly those that are easiest to immediately apply in the classroom or those that are supported by a particular “guru” .  Although concern for method is certainly not a new issue, the current attraction to “method” stems from the late 1950’s, when foreign language teachers were falsely led to believe that there was a method to remedy the “language learning and teaching problem”.

Changing Needs for Foreign Languages in Europe

            In 1969, the Council of Europe has made decision in order to promote effective learning of foreign languages, which are:

  1.  If full understanding is to be achieved in Europe the language barriers must be removed.
  2.  Linguistic diversity is part of the European cultural heritage, so through the study of modern languages they can have source of intellectual enrichment.
  3.  Only if the study of modern European languages becomes general will full mutual understanding and cooperation be possible in Europe.(Council of Europe 1969,8)

           There’s respond in the form of question conveyed by Van Els, T. Bongaerts, G. extra, C. Van Os,and A. Jansen-van Dieten (1984, 159):

  1. Does the community consider it important that all its members know foreign language, or is this considered necessary only for certain professional domains?
  2.  How many languages, and which languages, are felt to be necessary?
  3.  How great is the demand for each individual language? Does everyone need the same skills, or the same level of command per skill?
  4.  Is there a stable needs pattern?

           There was respond initiated by the Council of Europe that proposed “unit –credit system”:

           An educational system in which the syllabus, curriculum or body or material (knowledge and skills) to be studied, learned or acquired, is broken down into a number of quantum units of work, each with its own precise definition of the terminal behavior to be achieved by the learner. All of the units being accompanied by a carefully constructed system of credit ratings. (Kingsbury 1971, 11)

           English for Specific Purposes

The aim is to make language courses more relevant to learners’ needs.

The ESP approach to language teaching began as a response to a number of practical concerns:

  1. The need to prepare growing numbers of non-English background students for study at American and British universities from the 1950s.
  2. The need to prepare materials to teach students who had already mastered general English, but now needed English for use in employment, such as non-English background doctors, nurses, engineers, and scientists.
  3. The need for materials for people needing English for business purposes.
  4. The need to teach immigrants the language needed to deal with job situations

The materials given are:

  1. Spoken colloquial English : it is largely based on a structural description of written English and without reference to functional uses and to roles (Jupp and Hodlin 1975, 11)
  2. Language patterns and vocabulary (Darian 1972)
  3. The kinds of English learners would use or encounter in their specific occupations and situations.
  4. Selected texts and devised practice exercises (Howatt 1984, 222)

The ESP approach in language teaching:

  1. Register analysis

Register analysis studies the language of such fields as journalism, medicine, or law for distinctive patterns of occurrence of vocabulary, verb forms, noun phrases and tense usage


About nuniktriyani

I'm an English teacher at Gandhi School, Ancol 😘
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  1. minhthuy072 says:

    Hi! I am a Vietnamese girl. This post is so useful to me now. Would you mind posting the full chapter including 6 parts so that I can reference. Thanks a lot!

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