The audio lingual method was started in the 1940’s as language training for World War II troops, who needed quick training for basic communication. The audio-lingual method was widely used in the United States and other countries in the 1950's and 1960's. The emphasis was not on the understanding of words, but rather on the acquisition of structures and patterns in common everyday dialogue. These patterns are elicited, repeated and tested until the responses given by the student in the foreign language are automatic.
The Audio-lingual Method is still in use today, though normally as a part of individual lessons rather than as the foundation of the course. These types of lessons can be popular as they are relatively simple, from the teacher's point of view, and the learner always knows what to expect.
• Theory of language
The Structural view of language is the view behind the audio-lingual method. Particular emphasis was laid on mastering the building blocks of language and learning the rules for combining them.
• Theory of learning
Behaviorism, including the following principles:
* language learning is habit-formation
* mistakes are bad and should be avoided, as they make bad habits
* language skills are learned more effectively if they are presented orally first, then in written form
Here are some of the objectives of the audio-lingual method:
* accurate pronunciation and grammar
* ability to respond quickly and accurately in speech situations
* knowledge of sufficient vocabulary to use with grammar patterns.
• The syllabus
Audiolingualism uses a structural syllabus
• Types of learning techniques and activities
1. Dialog Memorization
Students are given a short dialog to memorize then they must use mimicry and applied role playing to present the dialog.
Person 1: Good morning, Bill.
Person 2: Good morning, Sally.
Person 1: How are you?
Person 2: Fine thanks, and you?
Person 1: Fine. Where are you going?
Person 2: I'm going to the post office.
Person 1: I am too. Shall we go together?
Person 2: Sure. Let's go.
2. Backward Build Up
Provide students with the the sentence fragments found in the materials section. Students repeat each part of the sentence starting at the end of the sentence and expanding backwards through the sentence adding each part in sequence.
Teacher: Repeat after me: Post office
Class: Post office
Teacher: to the post office
Class: 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.
3. Some kinds of Drills
o Repetition drill : students are asked to repeat the teacher’s model as accurately and as quickly as possible.
o Chain drill : A chain of conversation forms around the room as the teacher greets or questions a student and that student responds then turns to the next student and greets or asks a question of the second student and the chain continues.
o Single slot substitution drill : the major purpose of this drill is to give the students practice in finding and filling in the slots oa a sentence.
o Transformation drill : The teacher provides a question which must be transformed into a statement. An extension of this activity is to have the students make a question out of a statement.
4. Complete the Dialog
Selected words are erased from the dialog students have learned. Students complete the dialog by filling the blanks with the missing words.
Using any piece of literature at the students' reading level, read the piece aloud several times. Have the students write down what they hear. The idea is to write what they have heard as literally as possible.
Using flashcards with words that are relevant to them brainstorm other words about the word on the card. A new word could be chosen each day.
7. Use of minimal pairs
The teacher works with pairs of words which differ in only one sound; for example ‘ship/sheep’. Students are first asked to perceive the difference between the two words and later to be able to say the words.
8. The Alphabet Game
The game is designed to get students to practice a grammar point within a context.
The teacher :
• Directing and controlling the language behaviour of the students
• Responsible for providing the students with a good model for immitation
The students :
Follow the teacher’s directions and respond as accurately and as rapidly as possible
Teachers want their students to be able to use the target language communicatively. In order to do this, they believe the students need to overlearn the target language, to learn to use it automatically without stop to think.
F. STREGTHS OF AUDIO-LINGUAL METHOD
• Better pronunciation. With an audio method, you can take your time practicing your pronunciation and comparing it to the native speakers you hear on the tapes or cd's. You will have better pronunciation skills and a better accent than you would with only a book to go by.
• Hearing the language. You will actually hear the language with it's unique cadence and rhythms spoken by native speakers. Speaking is only part of the problem, you still need to understand what someone is saying to you. With audio language learning methods, you will be encouraged to engage the native speakers on the cd in a conversation, which will accelerate your ability to hear and understand the language.
• It's convenient. You can take it with you wherever you go, provided you have a cd or cassette player. This kind of method is great for use in the car (when we are not usually being very productive) or with a walkman on your morning jog, or even doing housework. Our minds can be occupied with something productive while our hands our doing mindless work.
G. WEAKNESSES OF AUDIO-LINGUAL METHOD
• Limited in subject matter and vocabulary
Compared to books, an all audio format language learning method will have much less vocabulary. There is simply not as much time in an audio format as there is space in a written format. Even with Pimsleurs Comprehensive program, with each level containing 15 hours of audio, there is still not as much material as even one 300 page coursebook.
• Need additional written materials
Because it is often difficult to equate audio with the written word in a foreign language that we are just learning, you must have additional written materials to study from. Even a simple coursebook or phrasebook. Of course, if you never intend to read the language this is wholly unnecesary, but there are few occasions where someone wants to learn a language but never read it. Even Pimsleurs all-audio format has a small reading booklet and accompanying audio in order to assist the learner.
• Students are often found to be unable to transfer the skills acquired through audiolingualism to real communication outside the classroom.
• Many found the experience of studying through audiolingual procedures to be boring and unsatisfying
• The methodology did not deliver an improvement in communicative ability that lasted over the long term.
The audio lingual method can be used as a method of learning, although that method has some disadvantages. A teacher must be able to develop creative models for teaching the students so that they will be more enthusiastic in participating in this learning method and the material presented can be understood by students well.
Larsen, Diane and Freeman.2000.Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching.Oxford University press.
Richard, Jack and Theodore S. Rodgers.2001.Approaches and Methods in Language Testing.
Harmer, Jeremy. The Practice of English Language Teaching. 3rd Edition. pg. 79-80. Essex: Pearson Education Ltd., 2001