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Disadvantages of Direct Method

1. Major fallacy of Direct Method was the belief that the second language should be learned in a way in which the first language was acquired - by total immersion technique. But obviously far less time and opportunity in schools exists compared with a small child learning his mother tongue.

2 Is the first language learning process really applicable to second foreign language learning at later stages? The first language learning is essential part of child's total growth of awareness of world around him. He starts off with blank sheet, then starts collecting/selecting organizing the experience of a totally new world, perceived through his senses, by formulating a variety of pre-verbal concepts.

Subsequently, part of the process of learning how to live is the acquisition of skills to verbalize his desires and aversions and to label his concepts, so as to make living more sufficient and secure.

Effectiveness of these verbalizing skills depends on maturation level of the child / on type of environment on intelligence.

Language is part of an intrinsic process through which child learns to recognize / deal with new situations.

4 The Direct Method rejects use of the printed word - but this objection is illogical since second language learner has already mastered his reading skills.

Does printed word interfere with FL pronunciation? -In fact experiments show that the printed word is of real help to consolidate the FL and actually reinforces retention (ef 'Je ma pel') - leaves mental imprint, image of shape of word.

5 Later disciples of Direct Method took it to extremes and refused to speak a single word of English in lessons. To avoid translating new words, they searched for an association between new words and the idea it stood for: 'Voilà un livre, voici une craie'. Extreme Direct Methodists had cupboards full of realia. Explanations became cumbersome and time-consuming. (Definition type explanations UN meunier est UN homme qui travaille dans UN moulin' / 'court est le contraire de long'). Teachers would be jumping over desks flapping fins, rather than say that the English for 'saumon' is 'salmon'. Concepts like cependant'/ 'néanmoins' - obviously need immediate translation!

6Successful teacher of the Direct Method needed competence in his language / stamina/ energy/ imagination/ ability and time to create own materials and courses - beyond capacity of all but gifted few.

"The method by its very nature presupposes a teacher of immense vitality, of robust health, one endowed with real fluency in the modern language he teaches. He must be resourceful in the way of gesture and tricks of facial expression, able to sketch rapidly on the board and in the language teaching day, he must be proof against linguistic fatigue".

7 Also Direct Methodists failed to grade and structure their materials adequately - no selection, grading or controlled presentation of vocabulary and structures. Plunged pupils into flood of living language - quite bewildering for pupils.

However, many teachers did modify the Direct Method to meet practical requirements of own schools, implemented main principles, i.e teaching through oral practice and banning all translation into target language. Obviously compromise was needed.

Direct method did pave the way for more communicative, oral based approach, and as such represented an important step forward in the history of language teaching.

1. 3. Contributions of Other Disciplines

Foreign language education has been evolving in new directions under the influence of research in certain social sciences that emerged relatively recently as a result of interdisciplinary approaches in science and education. For instance, Chomsky's emphasis on linguistic competence greatly stimulated the development of the related disciplines of psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. Other related fields are anthropological linguistics, computational linguistics, mathematical linguistics, sociolinguistics, and the philosophy of language.

Here are some of the significant interdisciplinary aspects of science and scientific disciplines that contributed to the development of foreign language teaching approaches and methods:


Defined as the study of the nature and structure of language, it traditionally encompasses semantics, syntax, and phonology.

Synchronic linguistic studies aim to describe a language as it exists at a given time; diachronic studiestrace a language's historical development.

Greek philosophers in the 5th century BC who debated the origins of human language were the first in the West to be concerned with linguistic theory. The first complete Greek grammar, written by Dionysus Thrax in the 1st century BC, was a model for Roman grammarians, whose work led to the medieval and Renaissance vernacular grammars. With the rise of historical linguistics in the 19th century, linguistics became a science.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Ferdinand de Saussure established the structuralist school of linguistics, which analyzed actual speech to learn about the underlying structure of language.

In the 1950s Noam Chomsky challenged the structuralist program, arguing that linguistics should study native speakers' unconscious knowledge of their language (competence), not the language they actually produce (performance). His general approach, known as transformational generative grammar, was extensively revised in subsequent decades. Other grammatical theories developed from the 1960s were generalized phrase structure grammar, lexical-functional grammar, relational grammar, and cognitive grammar.


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