Audio-lingual method, inescapable

20180514_085625Second language teaching in New Zealand is something I’d always thought I could do, and now are doing at the present with an institute in town. My students are genuine first learners or I surmise, “false beginners”. And oddly enough, most of them are Chinese, though I did have one student that was from Columbia.

They’ve had the benefit of English learning but, possibly had not had the chance to speak much, or at all. I feel that some of them have quite high affective filters. But, the biggest thing that’s letting them down is the way that they’re learning, which is through the Audio-lingual method. (Which is “repeat after me!) Being a good CELTA, I have tried to have them learn through more productive methods. Sadly, having them produce anything is to wait a long time to produce. Another thing I’ve seen, and have proved again is that any material that they have in their hands is instantly translated into Chinese, sometimes through translation software. Good if you want speed, bad if you want learning. Thanks Google.

/dʒózəfs dʒǽkət ɪ́z tú lɔ́ŋ/

Still, teaching the chants, pronunciation and rhythms of speech takes me back to when I was teaching Elementary school in Korea. I even taught my current students what a schwa (/ə/) was when pronouncing the reduced form of a vowel. Still, I’ve managed to write fluently using phonemic speech most times, with, few errors.

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Audio-lingual, U-RAH, U-RAH!

The Audio-lingual method is one of learning by repetition. That is, having the students repeat the target language, many times.  I hear it was invented by the US military, as a way of teaching its’s soldiers the lingo of the country that they would be based in, let alone the language of the people that they might be fighting. In a Korean classroom, (especially that of an Elementary classroom) Audio-lingua is king, and I’m not talking about Elvis. Students here are expected to read, write and recite the target language.  As a student of the Communicative language teaching method, this is just wrong, as in simply just inane. I can cite that if the context is not set properly, the target language that the student would be saying, means nothing. But what I can get from the students, what is worthy of pronunciation, sometimes isn’t worth the effort at all. They’ve been drilled and drilled with a said response to a question, it can be difficult to get them away from the default response and have them think about a real answer.