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The ESL/EFL History

7 pages
1750 words
University of Richmond
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Dissertation chapter
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The use of Grammar-Translation is a long-standing method in teaching foreign languages and second languages. However, Grammar-Translation and teaching translation remain to be a controversial issue that has been greatly debated in the field of teaching foreign language. As a pedagogical tool, Grammar-Translation particularly in Foreign Language (EFL) programs has had no solid worth on the nature of its importance (Nagy, 2015). According to the grammar-translation method is one of the oldest methods with its techniques and principles being the same as those used in teaching dead languages such as Greek or Latin. Grammar-translation is based on language acquisition by Abdulkhaleq and Abdullah (2013) learning grammar and vocabulary rules with translation considered the main operational technique.

Grammar-translation started in the 1950s. However, before the development of Grammar-Translation methods in the 19th century more emphasis had been placed on grammar in teaching translation using translation methods that helps in understanding and learning grammatical use of second Language (L2) better. Unnatural L2 sentences were used to introduce the grammatical targets of L1and also induced false impression, which fixed phrase to phrase translation between L1 and L2. When European schools started to offer foreign language instruction, teachers used the same translation-based methodology used in teaching dead languages such as Greek or Latin (Abdulkhaleq and Abdullah, 2013)). Although most Grammar-translation classes are carried out using native languages of students, there is little time for students to get involved in oral communication in the language learned. Therefore, the ESL should be learned deductively by involving translating sentences and grammar drills from the L2.

One of the major shortcomings of Grammar-translation method include the inability of students to cope with real communicative situations even though they master the grammar of the language (Abdulkhaleq and Abdullah 2013); Natsir & Sanjaya, 2014).Another limitation is the ability of teachers to adapt to newskills that have been developed to compensate for the teaching approaches used in the past.

Direct MethodThe L2 theorists consider that one of the major techniques used in teaching translation was the direct method. The method was developed as a result of the ineffectiveness and monotony of grammar translation classes (Chung, 2017). The Direct Method was developed in a nineteenth-century by Charles Berlitz, a linguist. Berlitz wanted to use target language as a way of communication and instruction and avoids the use of translation and mother tongue as a technique. He believed that students could learn the L2 by imitating the way children learn their second language. Therefore, grammar was taught inductively through listening and speaking without translation (Chung, 2017).

The Direct Method created a mono-language learning environment, which required teachers to be innovative while teaching language. As a form of immersion, the method encouraged students to communicate, write, and speak in the second language and discouraged the use of mother tongue. The method helped to develop new techniques for EFL programs (Hashemi and Sabet, 2013). Thus, students learned to communicate, write, and speak in the target language.

Most linguistics raised concerns about handling mistranslations beyond the elementary level without accessing the students mother tongue (Liu & Shi, 2006; Chung, 2017).Students first took turns reading loudeither an anecdotal or a dialogue passage. The teacher would ask questons using the target language while the students would also respond by repeating and mimicing using the target language. This makes the target language the main language in classroom. Most advocates of Grammar-Translation believed that when students are learn in an environment with aforeign language, they will be able to learn the target language.The personal qualifications, gender and age of the teacher were considered purposeful, creative, energetic and more devoted (Zakaria, 2013).

The Audio-lingual Method

The Audio-Lingual Method was developed during the Second World War. It emphasized the teaching of foreign language, from written to spoken. The method is believed to have developed teaching grammar from art to science to enable students to master foreign language more efficiently and effectively (Richards & Rodgers, 2014). Audio-Lingual Method assumes that learning a language involves learning the rules and mastering the elements of language by combining the elements from words to sentences. Thus, the method was characterized by skills such as writing, reading, speaking and listening (Liu, & Shi, 2006). Through the use of dialogue as the main process of teaching and stressing practical techniques such as mimicry and pattern drills, speaking and listening becomes the center stage. Thus, the Audio-Lingual method is more of a purely behavioristic approach to teaching language. Since it is based on drill work, it makes use of extensive conservation practice and form good language habits in the target language. Students receive different linguistic stimuli and either responds to them correctly incorrectly and enjoy a reward that promotes good habit formation or receive no reward that represses the response.

The major disadvantage of audio-lingualism is its theoretical foundation, which was attacked for being unsound both on learning and language theorieswhere its results fell short of expectations (Liu, & Shi, 2007, p. 70) because most students found it difficult to transfer the skills acquired to communicate with peop;lein the general community.

Communicative MethodThe emergence of the communicative method occurred in the 1970s. It involved actual teaching methods such as the competencybased approach, the total physical response, and the functional-notional approach. Through the influence of sociolinguistics works such as W.Labov and Dell Hyms and British applied linguists such as M.A.K. Halliday and John Firth who stressed the communicative and functional potential of language, the communicative method was advocated in method in teaching foreign languages and second languages. The communicative method focused primarily on communicative proficiency instead onjust mastering the structures (Liu & Shi, 2006).The communicative approach put more emphasis on naturalistic approach such as children learning L1and emphasis on realistic situations such as exposure or meaningful input in L2. Mother tongue and teachning using explicit forms were avoided. It targets communicative and productive skills, which provide exchange and negotiation among students. Thus, the communicative method teach four skills,which acknoledges the interdependence of communication and language that encourage activities that involvereal communications. Teachers are required to be counselors, analysts, guides, and organizers while students are required to be negotiaters. Today, the communicative method dominates language education because of its ability of making language instruction more inspiring and meaningful through developing both communicative and linguistic competencies.

The major limitation of communicative method is that it does not provide opportunities for developing some language skills and knowledge such as language use accuracy (Liu and Shi, 2006). Other concerns were expressed by Liu and Shi looks to the future of ESL by teaching the following issues:

i. Can this approach be evaluated properly?

ii. Is the method practicalfor all learning and teaching levels?

iii. Are teachers who are non-native able to adapt to it?

iv. Is the method adaptable to grammar-based examinations requirements?

v. Are teacher who are more experienced and older able to adjust themselves to the changing based vernaculars?

vi. Will students be able to communicate through talking, writing andreading and be able to communicate using their native English speaking peers?

Grammar-Translation particularly in Foreign Language (EFL) programs has along way to go. The trend since the times of audio-lingual methods, translation began re-introduced in EFL classes after years of communicative and postcommunicative teachings. The incorporation of translation in teaching target langiuageensures it is conducted in a communicative manner. It makesit clear to students that by relating the activities to their own experiences. Translation in this context is an operation on the use of language and aims to make students aware of the communicative value of language they are learning. Teachers have plenty of materials at their disposal, which they can use in communicative activities instead of using traditioonal and boring mechanical translation activities. The main element of language teaching today is based on real life communications,language functions, speech acts and situations that replicate real world contexts and situations.

Arguments in Favor of Using L1 in EFL Classrooms

Many studies support the use of L1 in EFL classroom and show its importance in language learning. According to a study by Littlewoods, L1 can be used in giving class management and class instructions because it is a significant technique for exploiting class time (Littlewood and Yu, 2011). Littlewoods believe that the potential of students mother tongue use needs more exploration. According to David Atkinson, the gap in literature is the major reason for the uneasiness and hesitation of teachers about using students mother tongue either in the classroom. Atkinson (2003) states that the use of L1 is important because of the following reasons: most students prefer translation because it helps them in revealing their feelings, in building the differences between the L2 and L1, and avoids negative transfer. According to Jadallah and Hasan (2010), there are reasons for code switching to L1, which leads to language learning such as praising learners, capturing learners' attention, reviewing a previous lesson, and introducing concepts.

Harbord (1992) consider L1 as a natural communication tool that teachers use to give instructions to students, however, he believed that L1 should not be used in explaining grammar. L1 can also be used as a facilitator for learning L2 (Piske, MacKay, & Flege, 2001). Therefore, comparing two languages to point out the differences and similarities between L2 and L1 would lead to learning L2. According to Cook (2001) since L1 is seen as a resource, it is important in organizing the class, explaining grammar and conveying meaning while at the same time used in individual strategy and collaborative tasks for students. Besides, the process of learning between children and adults is not similar.

According to Tang (2002), a number of intermediate group of students believe that using L1 help them to understand different concepts in classroom. Primarily, there are positive attitudes towards using L2 and L1 in classes. In his research, Scott, (2008) believes that the use of L1 and L2 in classroom is important because students prefer using both L1 and L2 because they perceive the classroom not the real context for L2 social culture. Thus, L1 has an essential role in communicating content and meaning and because it is both effective and necessary.

Arguments against Using L1 in EFL Classrooms:

Most opponents of the use of L1 in EFL classrooms believe that the use of too much L1 deprives learners the input in the L2 and it does not encourage or motivate learners to use L2 in classroom. According to Krashen and Terrell (1983), students can only acquire L2 through following the same path used in attaining L1. Speaking, writing and understanding need to be practiced while learning L2 to assist students to not only under...

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