Foreign Language Teaching and Learning for All Levels
The phenomenon of language learning begins immediately as soon as an infant starts babbling. However, linguists consider the learning of a mother tongue also known as the native language spontaneous as compared with learning a second language considered as a foreign language if not spoken within that community. According to these investigators of language, mother tongue is acquired naturally whereas the second or foreign language is learned as a result of a deliberate effort of an individual. The extent of his/her intentional effort determines the level of competence and performance over the second or foreign language. However, the contribution and instruction of a teacher can never be overlooked as he/she acts as a guide and model for the learners to develop expertise over the target language. Therefore, multiple strategies such as direct method, audio lingual method, total physical response and grammar translation method are being practiced within different institutions to teach the language learners of different levels. However, none of these is considered best to cover all the levels. Henceforth, an eclectic approach can provide answers to this conundrum under the following guidelines:
Begin with Total Physical Response: If an individual is not aware of the form, vocabulary and function of a language, the training may begin with this approach designed by James Asher as it involves the collaboration of language with physical movement. Expressions such as “stand up”, “open the door” and “come here” exemplify the association of language with a physical response thus making it convenient for a learner to remember these short bits of language.
The Outset of Audio Lingual Method: As a language is meant to communicate and express oneself before the other conversationalists, the next step is to provide learners with small chunks of language which can used to get the response of a verbal action. This strategy known as the Audio Lingual Method is also known as the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) as it was applied for communication among allied forces during the Second World War. Expressions for greetings, farewell and outdoor activities can be easily taught with this strategy for getting quick responses.
Interpreting the Language in Use: The next level of training commences with providing translation in native language of all the vocabulary in use so that the learner may have an idea of which word to use keeping in view the changing situations. This strategy is known as grammar translation method generally applied to teach the grammatical rules of classic languages such Greek and Latin.
Moderated Guidance and Suggestions: This is the final stage of language learning where the learners should be encouraged to interact in the target foreign language without taking any help from the native language so that the learners may try to think directly within the foreign language instead of contemplating in mother tongue followed by its translation and articulation in foreign language. In this step, the instructor should act as a moderator providing suggestions to learners when they are unable to think of the right work at the right time.