THE AUDIO-LINGUAL METHOD
The audio-lingual method consists of teaching a new language through reading a dialogue or text and carrying out drills associated with it. According to this method learning a language consists of getting to know its grammar and practicing its rules through different types of drills until habits in the new language are formed and speech becomes spontaneous. Through listening, imitating and performing controlled tasks, students acquire a new form of verbal behavior.
The essentials are: a) language learning is a process of habit formation, and good habits are formed by giving correct responses b) since language is basically oral, spoken form is presented before written form c) translation or use of the native tongue is discouraged d) students infer the rules of the language through practice, so the approach to the teaching of grammar is essentially inductive (as in the direct method).
The error has to be avoided.
The students had to work individually with a time of 15 to 20 hours per week.
Acquire syntactic structures and habits.
The methods used are imitation and repetition, where vocabulary is included.
Use of structural exercises.
The structures must be contextualized in a dialogue or text, which includes the linguistic structures that constitute the language of study.
It is not so important to study grammatical theories.
Only the language being studied is used in class and translation is not allowed.
Role of the teacher:
He is the protagonist of the class. He leads the class and makes the students participate. The teacher models the target language, controls the direction and pace of learning, checks and corrects the students’ performance. The teacher must keep the attention of the students varying the exercises and tasks, must also choose the most appropriate situations to practice the structures. To execute the linguists’ plans, you must use the materials and resources specified in the class plans and you must also receive training that will enable you to perform your function satisfactorily. (Richards and Rodgers, 1988, p. 61).
Role of the student:
A subject is required to participate actively during the learning process. With this it is expected that the person will be able to communicate in everyday contexts, mainly orally. A high level of listening and articulation of the sounds of the target language is expected; also, sufficient knowledge of the most recurrent lexicon in specific contexts.
Presence of grammar:
Learning is inductive and dependent on input, continuous practice is encouraged. Among its activities are the repetition of structures, memorization and simulation of dialogues (to internalize linguistic patterns), question and answer as in the Direct but in this case about equivalent models and transferable to variations in the structure. In the development of this method, the materials play a leading role: they are what allow the curricular design to be specified.
Audio-lingualism is based on behaviorism, a theory that sees learners as passive receivers of information whose behavior is shaped through positive or negative reinforcement. A critic made to behaviorism came on the part of linguist Chomsky (1957), who claimed “How can children make mistakes if they simply repeat what they hear?” In Chomsky’s view learners are credited with using their cognitive abilities in a creative way to work out hypothesis about the structure of the L2. His theory gave rise to cognitivism.
For behaviorists, learners were passive receivers of information whereas for cognitivists they are active processors. While the aim of behaviorism was to repeat until the habits were formed, cognitivists believed in problem-solving activities or tasks, which gave rise to communicative methods. Under a communicative approach learners need activities for meaningful learning so that they can use their innate and creative abilities to learn the rules of the language.