In 1942, The entry of the United States into World War II, to supply the U.S government with personnel who were fluent in German, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Malay, and other languages and could work as interpreners, code-room assistants, and translators, it was necessary to set up a special language training program which has the objective of the army to attain conversational proficiency in a variety of foreign langguages.
Then World War II broke out, and suddenly the United States was thrust into a world-wide conflict, heightening the need for Americans to become orally proficient in the languge of both their allies and their enemies. The time was ripe for a language-teaching revolution. The U.S military provided the impetus with funding for special, intensive language courses that focused on aural-oral skills, these courses came to be known as Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) or, more colloquially, the “Army Method,” In all its variations and adaptations, the Army Method came to be known in the 1950s as the Audiolingual Method.
The Audio-Lingual Method is an oral based approach. It drills students in the use of grammatical sentence patterns. It has a strong theoretical based on linguistics and psychology. Charles Fries (1945) of the University of Michigan led the way in applying principles from structural linguistics in developing the method, and for this reason, it has sometimes been refered to as the ‘Michigan Method.’ Later in its development, principles from behavioral psychology (Sinner 1957) were incorporated. It was thought that the way to acquire the sentence patterns of the target language was through conditioning-helping learners to respond correctly to stimuli through shaping and reinforcement, so that the learners could overcome the habits of their native language and form the new habits required to be target language speakers.
The Audiolingual Method (ALM) was firmly grounded in linguistic and psychological theory. Structural linguists of the 1940s and 1950 were engaged in what they claimed was a “scientific descriptive analysis of various languages; teaching methodologists was a direct application of such analysis to teaching linguistic patterns (Fries, 1945). At the same time, behavioristic psycholotgists advocated conditioning and habit-formation models of learning that were perfectly married with the mimicry drills and pattern practices of audiolingual methodology.
Theory of language
The theory of language underlying Audiolingualism was derived from a view proposed by American linguists in the 1950s – a view that came to be known as structural linguistics. Structural linguistics had developed in part as a reaction to traditional grammar. The reaction against traditional grammar was prompted by the movement toward positivism and empiricism, which Darwin’s on the Origin of Species had helped promote and by an increased interest in non-European languages on the part of scholars. An important tenet of structural linguistics was tha the primary medium of language isd oral: Speech is language. Therefore, it was assumed that speech had a priority in language teaching.
Theory of learning
The language teaching theoreticians and methodologists were working in a period when a prominent school of American psychology-known as behavioral psychology. To the behaviorist, the human being is an organism capable of a wide repertoire of behaviors. The occurrence of these behaviors is dependent on three crucial elements in learning:
- A stimulus, which serves to elicit behavior
- A response triggered by a stimulus
- Reinforfement, which serves to mark the response as being appropriate (or inappropriate) and encourages the repetition (or suppression) of the response in the future.
Reinforcement is a vital element in the learning process, because it increases the likelihood that the behavior will occur again and eventually become a habit. To apply this theory to language learning is to identify the organism as the foreign language learner, the behavior as verbal behavior, the stimulus as what is taught or presented of the foreign language, the responses as the learner’s reaction to the stimulus, and the reinforcement as the extrinsic approval and praise of the teacher or fellow students or the intrinsic self-satisfaction of target language use. Language mastery is represented as acquiring a set of appropriate language stimulus-response chains.
A number of learning principles which became the psychological foundations of Audiolingualism are the following:
- Foreign language learning is basically a process of mechanical habit formation. By memorizing dialogues and performing pattern drills the chances of producing mistakes are minimized.
- Language skills are learned more effectively if the items to be learned in the target language are presented in spoken form before they are seen in written form.
- Analogy provides a better foundation for language learningf than analysis. Analogy involves the processes of generalization and discriminationb. Drills can enable learners to form correct analogies.
- The meanings that the words of a language have for the native speaker can be learned only iun a linguistic and cultural context and not in isolation.
Audiolingualists demanded a complete reorientation of the foreign language curriculum. They advocated a return to speech-based instruction with the primary objective of oral proficiency, and dismissed the study of grammar or literature as the goal of foreign language teaching.
Brooks distinguishes between short-range and long-range objectives of an audiolingual program.
Short-range objectives includes training in listening comprehension, accurate pronunciation, recognition of speech symbols as graphic signs on the printed page, and ability to reproduce these symbols in writing.
These immediate objedtives imply three others:
- Control of the structures of sound, form, and order in the new language
- Acquaintance with vocabulary items that bring content into these structures
- Meaning, in terms of the significance these verbal symbols have for those who speak the language natively.
Long-range objectives must be language as the native speaker uses it. There must be some knowledge of a second language as it is possessed by a true bilingualist.
The teaching of listening comprehension, ponunciation, grammar, and vocabulary are all related to development of oral fluency. Reading and writing skills may be taught, but they are dependent on prior oral skills.
Audiolingualism is a linguistic, or structure-based, approach to language teaching. The language skills are taught in the order of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Listenig is viewed largely as training in aural discrimination of basic sound patterns. The language may be presented entirely orallly at first; written representations are usuallyu withheld from learners in early stages. When reading and writing are introduces, students are taught to read and write what they have already learned to say orally. An attempt is made to minimize the possibilities for making mistakes in both speaking and writing by using a rightly strucured approach to the presentaion of new language items.
Types of learning and teaching activities
Dialogues and drills form the basis of audiolingual classroom practices. Dialogues provide the means of contextualizing key structures and illustrate situations. Dialigues are used for repetition and memorization. Correct pronunciation, stress, rhythm, and intonation are emphasized. After a dialogue has been presented and memorized, specific grammatical patterns in the dialogue are selected and become the focus of various kinds of drill and pattern-practice exercises.
The use of drills and pattern practice is a distinctive feature of the Audiolingual Method.
Various kinds of drills are used.
- Repetition. The students repeats an utterance aloud as soon as he has heard it.
This is the seventh month. – this is the seventh month.
- Inflection. One word in an utterance appears in another form when repeated
I bought the ticket. – I bought the tickets
- Replacement. One word in an utterance is replaced by another.
He bought this house cheap. – He bought it cheap
- Restatement. The student rephrases an utterance and addresses it to someone else, according to instructions.
Tell him to wait for you. –Wait for me
Ask her how old she is. – How old are you?
- Completion. The student hears an utterance that is complete except for one wored, then repeats the utterance in completed form
I’ll go my way and you go…- I’ll go my way and you go yours.
We all have… own troubles. – We all have our own troubles…
- Transposition. A change in word order is necessary when a word is added.
I’m hungry. (so). – So am I
I’ll never do it again. (neither). – Neither will I…
- Expansion. When a word is added it takes a certain place in the sequence.
I know him. (hardly). – I hardly know him
- Contraction. A single word stands for a phrases or clause.
Put your hand on the table. – Put your hand there
They believe that the earth is flat.- they believe it…
- Transformation. A sentence is transformed by being made negative or interrogative.
He know my address.
He doesn’t know my address
Does he know my address?
- Integration. Two separate utterances are integrated into one.
They must be honest. This is important. – It is important that they be honest.
I know the man. He is looking for you. – I know the man who is looking for you.
- Rejoinder. The student makes an appropriate rejoinder to a given utterance. He is told in advance to respond in one of the following ways:
Be polite. Examples
Thank you.- your’re welcome
May I take one? .- certainly
Answer the question. Examples
What is your name? – My name is Smith
- Restoration. The student is given a sequence of words that have been culled from a sentece but still bvear its basic meaning. He uses these words with a minumum of changes and additions to restore the sentence to its original form.
Studdents/waiting/bus. – The students are waiting for the bus.
Learners are viewed as organisms that can be directed by skilled training techniques to produce correct responses. Learners play a reactive role by responding to stimuli, and thus have little control over the content, pace, or style of learning.
The teacher’s role is central and active; it is a teacher-dominated method. The teacher models the target language, controls the direction and pace of learning, and monitors and corrects the learners’ performance. The teacher must keep the learners attentive by varying drills and tasks and choosing relevant situations to practice structures.
The role of instructional materials
Instructional materials in the Audiolingual Method assist the teacher to develop language mastery in the learner. They are primarily teacher-oriented. A student textbook is often not used in the elementary phases of a course where students are primarily listening, repeating, and responding.
Tape recorders and audiovisual equipment often have central roles in an audiolingual course. A language laboratory may also be considered essential. It provides the opportunity for further drill work and to receive controlled error-free practice of basic structures.
Since Audiolingualism is primarily an oral approach to language teaching, it is not surprising that the process of teaching involves extensive oral instruction. The focus of instruction is on immediate and accurate speech’ the target language is used as the medium of instruction, and translation or use of the native language is discouraged.
The following procedures would be observed:
- Students first hear a model dialogue. They re4peat each line of the dialogue, individually and in chorus. The teacher pays attention to pronunciation, intonation, and fluency. Correction of mistakes of pronunciation or grammar is direct an immediate.
- The dialogue is adapted to the students’ interest or situation, through changing certain key words or phrases.
- Certain key structures from the dialogue are selected and used as the basis for pattern drills of different kinds. These are first practiced in chorus and then individually.
- The students may refer to their textbook, and follow-up reading, writing, or vocabulary activities based on the dialogue may be introduced.
- Follow-up activities may take place in the language laboratory, where further dialogue and drill work is carried out.
Audiolingualism holds that language learning is like other forms of learning. Since language is a formal, rule-governed system, it can be formally organized to maximize teaching and learning efficiency. Audiolingualism thus stresses the mechanistic aspects of language learning and language use.
The characteristics of the ALM may be summed up in the following list:
- New material is presented in dialogue form
- There is depencence on mimicry, memorization of set phrases, and overlearning
- Structures are sequenced by means of contrastive analysis and taught one at a time
- Structural patterns are taught using repetitive drills
- There is little or no grammatidcal explanation. Grammar is taught by inductive analogy rather than by deductive explanation
- Vocabulary is strictly limited and learned in context
- There is much use of tapes, language labs, and visual aids
- Great importance is attached to pronunciation
- Very little use of the mother tongue by teachers is permitted
- Successful responses are immediately reinforced
- There is a great effort to get students to produce error-free utterances
- There is a tendency to manipulate language and disregard content
Materials were carefully prepared, tested and disseminated to educational institutions.
The students are attentively listening as the teacher is presenting a new dialogue, a conversation between two people. The students will be expected to memorize the dialogue the teacher is introducing. All of the teacher’s instructions are in English. Sometime she uses actions to convey meaning, but not one word of the students’ native language is uttered.
- The teacher ask the students to listen:
Sally : Good morning, Bill
Bill : Good morning, Sally
Sally: Where are you going?
Bill : I’m going to the post office
Sally : I’m, too. Shall we go together?
Bill : Sure. Let’s go.
- After the students have repeated the dialoigue several times, the teacher gives them a chance to adopt the role of Bill while she says Sally’s lines.
- Then the teacher divides the class in half so that each half on their won gets to try to say either Bill’s or Sally’s lines.
- The teacher selects two students to perform the entire dialogue .
- Then the teacher moves next to the second major phases of the lesson. She continues to drill the students but these drills require more than simple repetition. The first drill the teadher leads is a singule-slot substitution drill in which the students will repeat a sentence from the dialogue and replace a word or phrase in the sentece with the word or phrase the teacher gives them. This word or phrase is called the cue. The teacher has the whole class repeat each of the lines of the dialuge after her model.
Teacher: Repeat after me: post office
Class : Post office’
Teacher : To the post office
Calss : to the post office
Teacher : going to the post office
Class : going to the post office
Teacher I’m going to the post office
Class : I’m going to the post office
- The teacher begins by reciting a line from the dialogue. I am going to the post office. Following this she shows the students a picture of a bank and says the phrase (the bank), which the teacher supplies, and put it into its proper place in the sentence.
- The teacher now gives them the cue phrase, (the drugstore). By showing the picture. The students repeat by substituting the phrase in a sentence. And so on.