Applied Linguistics




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.

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 has 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.

English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers want 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.

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.

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