Applied Linguistics

Situational language teaching teacher student role activities

Situational Language Teaching Method

At the end of the 19th century, the appearance of the direct method had caused a revolution in the methodological paradigm of second language teaching, relegating in many schools the traditional approach to grammar-translation. In this article we will provide you the information about Situational language teaching.

        During the first decades of the 20th century, a group of British linguists focused on establishing the theoretical foundations of foreign language teaching, in part because of this need to give the direct method a methodological solidity that it lacked. The most important linguists within this reform movement, which was condensed into the so-called oral approach or, later, the situational method of language, were Harold Palmer and AS Horby.

        His theories held that vocabulary was one of the most important aspects in teaching, so principles on vocabulary control were developed; Thus, a guide was established with the vocabulary necessary to learn to speak English as a foreign language. Later, this type of initiative showed an interest in establishing, for the first time in history, the basis for the development of language teaching programs.

        Grammar was also another relevant aspect within the situational method. However, this grammatical conception had nothing to do with that of the grammar-translation method, since the latter was based on a kind of universal grammar valid for the study of all languages. As in the case of vocabulary, these linguists made a systematic study of the most important grammatical structures of the English language, and, later, in 1953, they were incorporated into the first dictionary for the teaching-learning of English as a foreign language.

        The theory on which this approach is based, especially from the 1950s when it acquired the nomenclature of situational language teaching, is the behavioral theory of habit formation since the meaning of words and grammatical structures are inferred or deduced from the way it is used in a given situation. In fact, a series of systematic principles of three different types were established: selection, by which the lexicon and grammar were chosen; of gradation, that is, those principles through which the organization and sequencing of content were established; and, finally, presentation, that is, the techniques used for the presentation and implementation of certain elements.

        In this way, during the fifties and sixties the situational approach to the language spread to many countries, it considered the following characteristics:

  • The teaching had to start with the oral language since speech is considered as the basis of the language.
  • The language of expression in the class had to be foreign.
  • New linguistic aspects were practiced and acquired in situations.
  • To ensure vocabulary learning, word selection procedures were used.
  • Reading and writing were introduced after establishing a lexical and grammatical base.

Teacher role

The role of the teacher is fundamental. It is up to you to present, practice, and review. During the presentation, he creates situations where there will be a need for the structure under study and proposes models for the students to repeat. Through questions, orders, and stimuli, it encourages students to correctly enunciate the structures. During practice, where students are allowed to use the language in less controlled situations, he is on the lookout for mistakes around which to structure the lesson. Finally, during the review, the teacher controls the duration of the activities, proposes additional activities, encourages oral practice to support the structures of the textbook, plans and carries out the evaluation, and adjusts to the special needs of each student.

Student role

Initially, it has a role of listening and repeating what the teacher requests. He also responds to what the teacher asks him but does not have any control over the content. Later they are allowed more active participation by being able to take initiative in the answers and interact with their peers in questions and answers.
The student is always considered prone to falling into unwanted behaviors and wrong uses of the language and therefore the presentation and practice of the language must always be controlled by the teacher. Situational language learning with activities

Presence of grammar

It adopts an inductive approach in the teaching of grammar, which argues that the meaning of grammatical structures or words cannot be explained in the target language or the mother tongue, but must be induced through its application in a situation.  


Theme: Garments

Level: A1

General objective:

  • Recognize vocabulary related to clothing.

Specific objectives:

  • Associate clothing items with their respective names.


  1. The teacher shows the class different images of clothes with their respective names. As you teach them, ask your students to repeat them. You can do this exercise more than once, to promote learning.
  2. To facilitate the memorization of vocabulary, the teacher will pass his students one by one to the blackboard. He will have them choose one of the cards on the table. If the word comes out of the garment, they should draw it on the board and if the image corresponds to it, they should write the name of the garment on the board. If someone does not know the name of the garment corresponding to the image, they should tell their colleagues (never show the image) so that they ask them about the garment: What is it like? Where is it used? Is it male? … and thus be able to help with the term. If it were the opposite, that is, if the student takes out the word and does not know it, he will show it to the class, and in this case, he will be the one who asks his classmates the questions (the teacher will correct them if necessary).
  3. Finally, students will be asked to write a paragraph incorporating at least five items of clothing studied. The paragraph must be corrected by the teacher so that the student can read it in front of their classmates.

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