The method in language teaching. Novel ideas and history come together here to give us the thesis of your tutor. New and old methods always emerge as a historical reference or as a subject of methodological debate, take advantage of them to exorcise – rather than to reinforce – the concept of method.
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It reveals to us the importance of the concept of method and the change of this term for the focus in the 70s as a reflection of the need to teach languages in a comprehensive and less rigid way. There is no ideal method for teaching languages. Novel ideas and history come together here to give us the thesis of your tutor. New and old methods always emerge as a historical reference or as a subject of methodological debate, take advantage of them to exorcise rather than to reinforce the concept of method.
Hundreds of years have passed since the Middle Ages , the time when modern vernacular language teaching began in England , to the present day, when Brown ( 1987 ) ranked the best and worst of times in the language teaching profession. Because there have never been so many resources available for language learning and at the same time no definitive answers have been found to the questions of how to teach and learn a second language.
During these years, and especially in the more than nine decades of this century, there has been a notable development in the teaching of foreign languages, especially in English , under the converging influence of historical, social, political and scientific factors. – technicians, among which two stand out for the role they have played in this process.
Firstly, the advance and consolidation of related sciences such as pedagogy , linguistics and psychology, as well as more recent ones: ethno-methodology, semantics, pragmatics and sociolinguistics , should be mentioned . The logical, and generally beneficial, influence of these sciences has sometimes had a partial and / or excessive character, as is the case of psychology and especially linguistics, since the intention has been to interpret, define and implement the foreign language teaching only from a psychological theory of the forms or structures of the language.
It has been said on many occasions (Brumfit and Johnson, 1981 ) that the history of foreign language teaching has been characterized by a very marked parallel with the development of linguistics and the changes that have occurred in the formation and consolidation of this science, which have, in turn, determined the different forms that foreign language teaching has acquired, especially since 1940 .
There have been cases such as that of audiolingualism, in which the influences of Bloomfield’s North American linguistic structuralism, Skinner’s psychological behaviorism and Dewey’s pragmatic philosophy of education were combined , with other historical-social factors such as World War II , for produce a language teaching method. However, the pedagogy of language teaching.
However, the pedagogy of language teaching did not play a guiding role to analyze, integrate and summarize all these influences in an interactive and multidimensional vision, which Richards, in 1991 , called the matrix, from the classroom and from the point of view of the student and the teacher, as this is the moment when all the theoretical and practical implications of the language teaching activity converge and are defined, in terms of learning outcomes.
Secondly, we must highlight the process of development and consolidation of the language teaching profession that, from the isolated and personal efforts of teachers in the past, has been transformed into collective practice, the exchange of experiences, the national and international professional associations, and publications; They reflect the maturity of the profession, its independence and, increasingly, its leading role in the process. As the outstanding British specialist JPB Hallen will express in a conference during his first visit to Cuba in 1977 .
As we observe in this rough journey of almost a century, in a few pages, the development of foreign language teaching during that period has been closely linked to the concept of teaching method.
This concept, however, has been used in a varied and indiscriminate way to the point of being ambiguous as to its real meaning. The teaching of languages, like any other science or human activity, has followed a process of development in which various aspects of a pedagogical, social, political and historical type have influenced; and that this process has been different in different countries or regions of the world, according to local conditions and characteristics.
However, the greatest interest has been to emphasize the common characteristic of all teaching and learning methods and it is considered that by emphasizing or absolutizing one of the many aspects that they include in the process, be it psychological, linguistic or pedagogical; The problem of effectively teaching or learning a foreign language can be solved.