Jdi na obsah Jdi na menu
 


TYPOLOGY OF METHODS OF TEACHING FOREIGN LANGUAGES

24. 8. 2010

1-Introduction

 

Historian and epistemologist Claude Germain definies didactics of foreign languages as a discipline of observation as well as intervention[1]. Therefore, in a Kantian critical frame of analysis, a limited series of a priori categories is to be supposed that makes that observation possible.

In his book Méthodes et pratiques des manuels de langues[2], another historian and epistemologist, Henri Besse establishes a typology of methodologies of teaching a foreign languages (BESSE, 2005 : 21-24) by using four categories that allow to describe any methodology at all and the phenomena that manifest them.

Even if the number of those categories seems to be small, it should be able to distinguish and mark a difference between every methodology, which is the basic purpose of a typology. Indeed the figure of possibilities allowed by a four entry table that point out the presence or the absence of each phenomenon rise up to thirty (2 + 22 + 23 + 24 = 30.)

Henri Besse introduces eight classical metodologies. He does not tackle with so-called alternative methodologies such as Suggestopedy, Silent Way, Total Physical Response, Humanistic Approach, Comprehension-based approach…

Anyway Henri Besse’s proposition is remarkable in the sense that it considers a minimum of phenomena to describe a maximum of methodologies, respecting in this way the famous Occam’s razor.

Methodologies are in the historical order. Vertical axis shows the evolution of the ideas and practice of teaching throughout history.

 

 

2-Description of the four categories

 

I- The first category shows the absence or presence of the phenomenon of translation during the teaching process. Henri Besse points out that the textbook could only give a bad approxiamtion of translation. Indeed the teacher is the only one who could give a appropriate translation because he is the only one who speaks both languages. (BESSE : 21)

II- The category of grammar is made up of a double teaching phenomenon. Indeed it is possible to classify the activity of teaching grammar by to means :

1- By asking if the presentation of a grammatical point is A) explicit and deductive « explicite, déductive », in this case the teaching rationale is in charge of the explanation. The learner has to deduce the rules ; or is B) the presentation is implicit and inductive « implicite, inductive », without any metalinguistical statement, the methodology supposes that the learner will induce by himself the grammatical rules (BESSE : 22)

2- The presentation of the grammatical point A) involves or B) does not involve a morpho-syntactical description. This description could equally be explicit or implicit (BESSE: 22.) Thus an intensive repetition of the syntactical structrure by the use of drills is already an implicit description (MOA). But an extensive presentation of the structure through various contexts (SGAV-AC) is not considered as a description.

III- The third category allows the description of the material used for the presentation of the contents. Should the teacher use authentic material from the real linguistic life outside of the classroom or should the teacher use didactical material? In the first case, the learner has to choose what part of the material is appropriate to his learning agenda. Then emphasis will be put on the process of understanding. In the second case, the learner is asked to understand all material for the purpose of reusing it later (in a brifer or longer period). Thus emphasis is put on expression. (BESSE : 23)

IV- The last category is indeed deduced from the third one for the reason that the use of authentic material involves an a posteriori conceived progression of the contents. To the contrary, the creation of the didactical material results from an a priori conceived progress that has been imagined by the teacher (BESSE : 23)

 

3-Typology of methods

 

 

Categories

Methods

Translation

explicit grammar

morpho-syntactical description

Authentic material

A priori progression

Natural

-

-

-

+

-

Grammar-Translation.

+

+

+

-

+

Reading - translation

+

-

+

+

-

Direct

-

-

+

-

+

Of the Army

+

+

+

-

+

Audiolingual

+/-

-

+

-

+

S.G.A.V.

-

-

-

+

-

Communicative and cognitive M.

+/-

+

+

+

-

 
The + sign indicates the presence of, and the - sign shows the absence of, the phenomenon in the methodology. The +/- sign indicates a non compulsory presence of the phenomenon.

4-Justification of the table

 
Natural method (BESSE: 24): « No translation, no grammatical explanation, an authentic language submersion and no progression. »

Grammar-translation method (BESSE: 25): « The teacher translate what they present…they give grammatical explanations, they use examples which they have created for this purpose….they follow a grammatical progression »

Reading-translation method (BESSE: 28): « Translation applied to texts, most of the time authentic ones…not or few grammatical explanations, no grammatical exercices during the first step. » « Routine precedes rules. »

Direct method (BESSE: 31, 32): « Teacher uses only the 2L », « inductive and implicit approach », « the teacher use their own statements as examples » (therefore those statement are didactical marterials, adapted to the level of the learners), « grammatical description is introduced implicitly », « the progression which is adopted depends directly upon the pedagogical procedures » (from concrete to abstract)

Method of the Army (BESSE: 35): « Every class has a teacher of linguistics providing any explanations, grammatical or others » (therefore that implies lexical explanations and translation), « the learner should « do his/her best to understand the grammatical workings by using books of grammar and lecturers explanations », « dialogs elaborated by the conceptors »

Audiolingual method (BESSE: 36): « Sentences used as models are introduced sometimes with a translation, sometimes without a translation », « those drills (pattern drills), by the quick repetion they demand, are supposed to reinforce the already learned structures...and will allow the learner to generalise », « dialogues are elaborated according to the chosen progression. » This progression is basically a contrastive one, from the examples with as little interferance as possible between first and second language to the examples with the most interferences.

Structural-global audio visual method (BESSE: 40, 41): « the access to the meaning does not need translation but appears through the view of the situation », the « Structural-situational method confines itself to teach implicitly and inductivly the grammar », « the elements forming the dialogue presented at the begining of the lesson are exêcted to be used again in different situations », « dialogues are elaborated on the base of statistical survey of frequencies (français fondamental similar to special English.) » Thus progression is determined aposteriori after a survey on the study field.

Cognitive and communicative method (BESSE: 46): « Translation is accepted », « grammatical explanations are brought back into favour », « a more authentic L2 is offered to learners », « progression is determined according to the learner ».

 
5-Comments on the table

 
1- A typology of teaching practices

These four categories concern the unique field of teaching. Indeed, when Henri Besse describes the phenomenon of translation, he puts forward the fact that the teacher is the only one able to propose a translation adapted to the context and that the learner can refer to as a model to imitate. (BESSE: 21) Thus the absence of translation given by the teacher « does not mean that the learners do not translate silently. » (BESSE: 32) We can make the same remark about the others categories in the table. They refer to a teaching strategy of exposing grammar and of using didactic material. Therefore it has to be pointed out that this typology describes only « the practices of teaching » (BESSE: 12)

2- A qualitative typology

The concrete presence of the phenomenon can be understood as a qualitative causal analysis. The table exposes a causal link between a category – considered as a cause – and an application in the classroom – considered as an effect –. For instance translation is theoretically supposed necessary, thus it will be applied in the classroom. But this qualitative analysis shows insufficiencies in the way that it presents several methodologies as identical even if they are in reality different. That is to say, the audio-oral method appears really similar to the direct method and grammar-translation method appears completely identical to the method of the Army.

The qualitative analysis is therefore not efficient enough to describe the entire variety of the several methods. It must be completed by a quantitative analysis. Thus the table, instead of estableshing a simple causal relationship, would approach a more precise determinism.

3- Redundancy and inadequacies

Henri Besse notices that « the last parameter is linked to the third » (BESSE: 23). But strangely he does not push forward its logical point. Those two parameters, if they were causally tied, would be redundant. Thus if you identify a cause, it is useless to point out the effect that will necessarily follow.

Yet the definition of an authentic document, that appeared at the beginning of the 70’s and how it is stated by Jean-Pierre Cuq’s dictionary « an authentic document does not make any sense so far it is not framed by a methodological program (level, progress, needs, goals) » (CUQ : 29) As the use of an authentic document even if it implies an a posteriori progression of « the lexical and morphosyntaxical contents » (BESSE :23) still allows an a priori didactical progression by subordinating the content to the needs.

Following the example of this possible division of the categorie of an a priori progression, it appears that to divide the grammatical categorie could be useful as well. Indeed it is possible implicitly to give a morphosyntactical description. This happens for the direct method and audio-oral method. Both of them offer an implicit description of the syntactical rules when they are induced through drills based on « intensive. » repetition (BESSE: 22).

It is to be noticed that the category of a priori progress is not as simple as it looks to be. Indeed, if the learner’s needs are listed by an empirical (a posteriori) survey. But the contents are organized a priori from the didactical point of view. Indeed the frequencies of uses are hierarchically organized and presented with an a priori order that goes from the more to the less frequent. This order does not belong to the empirical material, but it is a theoretical and a priori principle.

 
6-Conclusions

 

This typology of methods troughout history of teaching foreign languages appears to be a really good first approximation for an ordering classification. But it stays incomplete in the way that it does not allow for a complete distinction among methods from each other. We can suppose that it needs more parameters to complete the description or it needs to change the qualitative parameters for quantitative ones.

It occurs that all the parameters alternate in different periods. Therefore it is not possible to predict which parameter will appear again in a further method or which one for sure will not be used again by methodologists. Any composition of all parameters is possible and any prediction on how the next method propunded will look is rash. Anyway the way the phenomena alternate in history seems to support the idea that the image of a pendulum is appropriate to describe the evolution of ideas in teaching methods.

Yet the pendular movement is even more than a simple metaphor used to describe an historical evolution. It could have its roots deep in life’s processes. Ethologist Korand Lorenz has observed it already as a « process of auto-regulation whose progress is delayed » mainly because of inertia (LORENZ, 1993: 41). In a theoretical field this pendular movement shows that « a new explicative principle is always overestimated by its discoverer » (LORENZ, 1975 : 321) Then the disciples who follow the master will use a better analytical examination of the principle and will « absorb the oscillation and push back things to a better middle », then once again, « the creation of a new common opinion will start with excessive challenging » (LORENZ, 1975 : 321) Thus this pendular movement is identified by Lorenz as a « cognitive function characteristic for human societies » (LORENZ, 1975: 321)

 

Bibliography

 

BESSE, Henri. 2005. Méthodes et pratiques des manuels de langues. Paris, Crédif/Hatier ISBN 2-278-03680-7

CUQ, Jean Pierre. 2003. Dictionnaire didactique du français langue étrangère et seconde. Paris, Cle/Asdifle. ISBN 2090339721

GERMAIN, Claude. 2001. La didactique des langues: une autonomie en devenir. In FDM Théories linguistiques et enseignement du français au non francophones, dir. BOUQUET, Simon, Clé internationale ISBN 209-037101-3

LORENZ, Konrad. 1983. L’agression, une histoire naturelle du mal. Paris, Flammarion. ISBN 2080810200

LORENZ, Konrad. 1975. L'envers du miroir : Une histoire naturelle de la connaissance, Flammarion, Paris. ISBN 2080812130


[1] « La didactique des langues est à la fois une discipline d’observation […] et d’intervention. » (GERMAIN 2001:14)

[2] BESSE, Henri. 2005. Méthodes et pratiques des manuels de langues. Paris, Crédif/Hatier (coll. « Essais ») ISBN 2-278-03680-7, 182 p.

 

Communications scientifiques de l’Eurorégion Nisa XIV, ACC Journal, Liberec 2008, ISBN 978-80-7372-379-8, pp. 222-227

 

 

Komentáře

Přidat komentář

Přehled komentářů

Zatím nebyl vložen žádný komentář