Applied Linguistics

Principles of direct method


It arises at the end of the XIX century, in opposition to the traditional method of grammar-translation. This method is not based on an explicit linguistic theory but is based on the idea that a language is a communication tool used in concrete situations every day. The language is learned by exposure to it, since structures, sounds, and words are assimilated little by little. For this reason, what is oral is privileged over what is written; Also, the usefulness of explicit grammatical explanations is underestimated and the translation is censored. Learning is inductive and the prototype of the language is the informal oral language. Principles of direct method

        This method was introduced in France and Germany at the beginning of the 20th century and widely known in the United States thanks to L. Sauveur and M. Berlitz, who applied it in their schools. However, based on experience, the correction of errors is essential, because the consolidation of appropriate habits is pursued; otherwise, communication may be affected. The student’s life experience is also used through associations, especially with images but also mental ones (language is a system of representation of the world).

The direct method was born in Germany and in France, around 1900 and its creators were Berlitz and Sauze. This method is based on the idea that learning a second language should be an imitation of the mother tongue since it is the natural way in which individuals learn any language. This method places great emphasis on the correct pronunciation of the language being learned.

According to this method, the written text should be kept away from the student, until he has adequate knowledge of the oral part of the language, just as a student does not use the written text until he has adequate knowledge of his own language.

“The learning of writing and spelling should be delayed until the written text has not been entered. Grammar and translation should be avoided as this would result in the involvement of the student’s mother tongue. “

This method avoids the students’ native language use and concentrates almost entirely on the second language. Principles of direct method

The direct method has only one rule: written translations are not allowed. As with the Audio-Lingual method, the direct method also refused to use the basic techniques of the grammar-translation method, and thanks to this motive it became very popular. Its principles have been applied for several years by teachers and have marked the history of teaching methodologies.

Principles and procedures:

1. Instructions are given exclusively in the second language.

2. Oral communication skills are taught progressively and by exchanging questions and answers between the teacher and the students.

3. Every day they are taught a certain number of phrases and vocabulary.

4. Grammar is taught inductively.

5. The concrete vocabulary is taught through demonstrations, objects, and photographs, the abstract vocabulary is learned through the association of ideas.

6. They are taught conversation and listening comprehension.

7. Emphasis is placed on correct pronunciation and grammar.


  • The vocabulary about grammar is emphasized.
  • The four skills are worked from the beginning.
  • Out loud reading
  • Question and answer exercises
  • Student self-correction
  • Conversation practices
  • Dictations
  • Exercises to fill in blanks
  • Paragraph writing

Role of the teacher. Principles of direct method

English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers wants students to think and speak in the target language 100 percent of the time while in class. The direct method to achieve this emphasizes conversation and pronunciation while giving little importance to the study of traditional grammar through reading and writing. The teacher should use activities to encourage students to listen, speak and think in the language they are learning without hesitation.  The study program is based on real-life situations. Students learn inductively. Vocabulary is practiced in complete sentences, never in isolation.

Dictation:  Teachers who use the direct method read aloud to students in the target language. The teacher reads three times an appropriate passage for the student’s language level. The first time, the students listen. The second time, the teacher reads the passage sentence by sentence, slow enough for students to write what they hear. The third time, the teacher reads the passage normally and the students review what they have written to make sure it is correct. Principles of direct method

Questions and answers:  When ESL teachers use the direct method, emphasis is placed on speech, rather than reading and writing. To accomplish this, the teacher will ask simple questions that he knows students will have the ability to answer at their current level, even if doing so has a little difficulty. The teacher will choose a student and ask a question like “What are you going to have lunch today?” and then wait for the student to answer using a complete sentence. To prepare for this, the teacher demonstrates that a complete answer would be “I’m going to eat a sandwich and a banana for lunch today” instead of “A sandwich and a banana.”

Out loud reading: When the direct method is used, the teacher wants students to speak as much as possible in the target language, but the student’s ability to do so on their own may be limited. To make the students speak in the target language above their current level, the teacher chooses passages from novels, plays, magazines, or other sources, and has the students take turns reading aloud. Students are exposed to new words and receive practice with pronunciation, comprehension, and oral expression.

Self-correction: Instead of correcting students directly, a teacher who uses the direct method directs students to reflect on their own mistakes when speaking. If a teacher asks: “What are you going to have lunch today?” and the student’s answer is: “I will eat a sandwich with bananas” instead of “a sandwich and a banana”, the teacher may ask “Does your sandwich have bananas in it or are you eating a banana and a sandwich?”. The student has to stop and think about the way he wrote the sentence and correct himself. Principles of direct method

Role of the student.

They must have active participation. During the lessons, your interaction and use of the language should be maximized.

Presence of grammar.

The teaching of grammar is inductive from the observation of the examples. The student is expected to be able to extract grammar rules directly from the language he listens and reads, without receiving explicit grammatical explanations from the teacher or being able to give those explanations himself.

ACTIVITIES – DIRECT METHOD Principles of direct method

 Theme: The kitchen

Level: A2

General objective:

  • Describe your preferences for the foods and types of cuisine in your life.

 Specific objectives:

  • Relate topics about cooking and food that appear in a text with their daily life.
  • Find similarities and common tastes among classmates.


1- The teacher asks the class if they know the word “Kitchen”. He will also ask them about its meaning and about the types of cuisine they know or like.

2- The teacher will guide a conversation with a question sheet for the class, always related to the topic of food and cooking in general.

Questions guide for class conversation:

  1. Who cooks at home in your country?
  2. Who cooks in your Costa Rican home?
  3. Can you cook?
  4. Do you like to cook?
  5. If you cook, what do you usually like to prepare the most?
  6. How many times a day do you cook?
  7. How many times a week do you cook?
  8. Do you eat out in restaurants? How many times per week?
  9. What kind of food do you eat outside your home?
  10. Do you like to prepare salads?
  11. What do you eat when you don’t have time?
  12. Do you cook for yourself or someone else? For whom it is?
  13. What is your favorite food and why?
  14. What is your favorite restaurant in the world called and what kind of food does it serve?
  15. What do you usually eat for breakfast in your country and what do you eat for breakfast in Costa Rica?
  16. What do you have for lunch in your country and in CR?
  17. What dinner in Costa Rica and what dinner in your country of origin?
  18. If you don’t know how to cook, do you want to learn?
  19. Do you know a good restaurant in Costa Rica? Principles of direct method
  20. What kind of food do they cook at this restaurant?

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