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Audio-Lingual Method PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anwar Rahman   
Tuesday, 27 July 2010 10:43

Approaches, methods, procedures and techniques

Audio Lingual MethodTeachers do not put into account of what actually need to understand in language teaching. She/he only able to speak English very fluent and even do not give student a few chance to practice the target language that they wish to be acuired. Very basic foundation of teaching language knowledge is that what approach, methodology and technique of language is taught. Here are the terms, though somewhat vague, are deinable:
People use the term of approach to refer to theories about the nature of language and language learning which are the source of the things are done in the classroom and which provide the reasons for doing them. An approach describes how people acquire their knowledge of language and makes statements about the condition which will promote successful language learning.

A method is the practical realisation fo an approach. The originators of a method have arrived at decisions about types of activities, role of teachers and lerners, the kind of material which will be helpful and some model of language competence.  Methods includes various procedures and techniques.

A procedure is an ordered sequence of techniques. For example, a popular dictation procedure starts when students are put in small groups. Each group then send one representative to the front of class to read (and remember) the first line of a poem which has been placed on a desk. Each student then goes back to their repective group and dictate that line. The second students come to front and read the second line the dictate the line. These continue until the whole lines of poem has been writen out.

A common technique when using video or film material is called silent viewing. This is where the teacher plays the video with no sound. Silent viewing is a single activity rather than a sequence, and as such is a technique rather than a whole procedure.
Audio-Lingual Method

The Audio-Lingual Method (ALM) arose as a direct result of the need for foreign language proficiency in listening and speaking skills during and after World War II. It is closely tied to behaviorism, and thus made drilling, repetition, and habit-formation central elements of instruction. Proponents of ALM felt that this emphasis on repetition necessitated a corollary emphasis on accuracy, claiming that continual repetition of errors would lead to the fixed acquisition of incorrect structures and non-standard pronunciation.
In the classroom, lessons were often organized by grammatical structure and presented through short dialogs. Often, students listened repeatedly to recordings of conversations (for example, in the language lab) and focused on accurately mimicking the pronunciation and grammatical structures in these dialogs.

Critics of ALM asserted that this over-emphasis on repetition and accuracy ultimately did not help students achieve communicative competence in the target language. Noam Chomsky argued "Language is not a habit structure. Ordinary linguistic behaviour characteristically involves innovation, formation of new sentences and patterns in accordance with rules of great abstractness and intricacy". They looked for new ways to present and organize language instruction, and advocated the notional functional syllabus, and eventually CLT as the most effective way to teach second and foreign languages. However, audio-lingual methodology is still prevalent in many text books and teaching materials. Moreover, advocates of audio-lingual methods point to their success in improving aspects of language that are habit driven, most notably pronunciation.


Here is a comprehensive list of the differences of ALM and CLT

Audio-lingual Method

Communicative Language Teaching

1. Structure is important

Meaning is important

2. Memorization of structure-based dialogue

Dialogue, containing function not memorized

3. Language does not have to be contextualized

Contextualization is a basic premise

4. Language leaning is learning structure, sounds or words

Language learning is learning to communicate

5. Mastery, or “over-learning” is sought

Effective communication is sought

6. Drilling is central technique

Drilling may occur, but peripherally

7. Native-speaker-like pronunciation is sought

Comprehensible pronunciation is sought

8. communication activities only come after a long process of rigid drills and exercises.

Attempts to communicate may be accepted from very beginning

9. The use of Ss own language is forbidden

Use of Ss own language is accepted where feasible

11. Translation is forbidden at early level

Translation may be used where necessary

12. The language is learned through the teaching of sentences patterns.

The language is learned through the process of struggling to communicate

13. Linguistic competence is the desired goal

Communicative competence is the desired goal

14. varieties of language are nor emphasized

Linguistic variation is a central concept

15. The teacher controls the learners and prevents them from the making mistakes

Teachers help learners in any way to motivates them to work with the language

16. Accuracy, correctness of language is primary goal

Fluency is the primary goal

17. The teacher is expected to specify the language that students are to use

The teacher cannot know exactly what language the students will use

18. Intrinsic motivation will spring from an interest in the structure of the language

Intrinsic motivation will spring from an interest in what is being communicated by the language

Just as with the Direct Method that preceded it, the overall goal of the Audiolingual Method was to create communicative competence in learners.  However, it was thought that the most effective way to do this was for students to "overlearn" the language being studied through extensive repetition and a variety of elaborate drills.  The idea was to project the linguistic patterns of the language (based on the studies of structural linguists) into the minds of the learners in a way that made responses automatic and "habitual".  To this end it was held that the language "habits" of the first language would constantly interfere, and the only way to overcome ths problem was to facilitate the learning of a new set of "habits" appropriate linguistically to the language being studied.
Key Features

Here is a summary of the key features of the Audiolingual Method, taken from Brown (1994:57) and adapted from Prator and Celce-Murcia (1979).
(1)  New material is presented in dialog form.
(2)  There is dependence on mimicry, memorization of set phrases, and overlearning.
(3)  Structures are sequenced by means of contrastive analysis and taught one at a
(4)  Structural patterns are taught using repetitive drills.
(5)  There is little or no grammatical explanation.  Grammar is taught by inductive
analogy rather than deductive explanation.
(6)  Vocabulary is strictly limited and learned in context.
(7)  There is much use of tapes, language labs, and visual aids.
(8)  Great importance is attached to pronunciation.
(9)  Very little use of the mother tongue by teachers is permitted.
(10)  Successful responses are immediately reinforced.
(11)  There is great effort to get students to produce error-free utterances.
(12) There is a tendency to manipulate language and disregard content.
Role of Ss. Native tongue

An ALM-led classroom does not allow any other language inside but the target language. That is a belief that goes back to and inherited from the previous method, I mean the Direct Method, which came with the idea of monolingual teaching/ learning in an attempt to further enhance students’ learning through much exposure to the target language. Interfering is the native tongue for those believing in the ALM and a contrastive analysis between both languages is usually conducted to identify where mostly the native tongue would interfere. The results of which analysis are exploited to anticipate learning problems and their viable solutions.
Errors/ mistakes
These are not tolerated. A teacher in their implementation of the ALM might get angry and fussy at any mistake or error produced by students. To that, contrastive analysis and over learning are deployed to shun over mistakes and errors.

Evaluation. How is it achieved?

Mostly discrete-items based. Every question in a test would focus on one point of the language learnt at a time. E.g. supply the appropriate verb form in these sentences.

Typical techniques of the Audio-Lingual Method

A technique is, by definition, any exercise, activity or device that has been or is being used in-class to realize lesson objective or (s). The AL method, as any one of its sisters, made a call to a wide collection of techniques/ activities to achieve its teaching/ learning objectives, a collection of which here is an account:
a- Dialog Memorization:
Traditionally, an ALM lesson begins in a dialog or short conversation which is later memorized either through mimicry or applied role playing. To this latter, there are three ways:
1- Students take the role of one character of a dialog and the teacher takes the other with roles switching after a while.
2- One half of the class plays the role of one character from the dialog and the other half plays the other with roles switching after a while.
3- Or else, pair-work in which two students perform the dialog before their classmates.

b- Backward Build-up Drill:
A drill used to teach bugging lines. It consists of breaking up any student frustrating line into small units and then repeating it backward, one unit at a time. E.g. how are you? You take “you” as a first unit, “are you” as the second unit, and “how are you” as the last unit. Every unit should be repeated/ drilled a sufficient number of times, especially the last unit.

c- Transformation Drill:
A grammatical tool, as a matter of fact, in which students are asked to transform sentences of one form into another form. As, for example, transforming an affirmative sentence into a negative-affirmative one, a passive sentence into an active one or a simple statement into a question.

d- Question and Answer Drill:
Students are required, in such a drill, to answer questions and ask others as accurately and quickly as possible.

e- Complete the Dialog:
It simply consists of a dialog of which some linguistic items, grammatical or lexical, are dropped and which students should supply on their own or from a suggested box of possible answers.
f- Single-Slot Substitution Drill:

It goes in this way: The teacher states a line from the dialog, then uses a word or a phrase as a cue that students, when repeating the line, in the sentence in the correct place. E.g. “how old are you?” (Cues are: she/ he/ they), and the answer would be: “how old is he?”; “how old is she?”; “how old are they?”

g- Multiple-Slot Substitution Drill:
Akin to the previous drill with the exception that instead of providing one single cue to substitute, here the teacher provides a multiplicity of cues (two or more) that Ss. Should substitute and make any changes, as needed, to the structure of the sentence like subject-verb agreement.
E.g. She is playing in the school yard (cues: they/ go/ the park)

h- Repetition drill:
It is used to teach conversations/ dialogs. It simply consists of Ss. repeating lines of a given dialog as accurately as possible.


Diane-Larsen, Freeman. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. England: Oxford University Press, 1990.

H. Douglas Brown. Principles of Language learning and Teaching. US: Prentice-Hall, 1987.

Richards, Jack C (2002). Methodology in Language Teaching.. Cambridge University Press.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 August 2010 12:15