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AUDIO-LINGUAL AUDIO-VISUAL METHOD

Mid 1960's - three new technological aids came into general use in the classroom-language laboratory, portable tape-recorder and film-strip projector. All these were greeted with euphoria in all modern language departments. Extensive use of tapes and equipment was revolutionary for language teachers. Instead of buying sets of books to equip a class, teachers were demanding most expensive boxes of film-strips and sets of tapes. Blackout facilities and electric points had to be installed.

Potential offered to language teaching by tape-recorder was enormous - now possible to bring native speaking voices into classroom. Editing and self-recording facilities now available. Tapes could be used with tape recorder or in language laboratory. Early audio-visual courses consisted of taped dialogues, accompanied by film -strips which were designed to act as visual cues to elicit responses in the foreign language.

Most audio-lingual courses consisted of short dialogues and sets of recorded drills. Method was based on a behaviourist approach, which held that language is acquired by habit formation. Based on assumption that foreign language is basically a mechanical process and it is more effective if spoken form precedes written form. The stress was on oral proficiency and carefully- structured drill sequences (mimicry/memorisation) and the idea that quality and permanence of learning are in direct proportion to amount of practice carried out.

But early enthusiasm for audio-visual materials and language laboratory soon cooled as teachers gradually recognised limitations of this approach.

Disadvantages of Audio-Visual/Audio-Lingual Method Basic method of teaching is repetition, speech is standardised and pupils turn into parrots who can reproduce many things but never create anything new or spontaneous.

Pupils became better and better at pattern practice but were unable to use the patterns fluently in natural speech situations.

2 Mechanical drills of early Audio-Visual approach criticised as being not only boring and mindless but also counter-productive, if used beyond initial introduction to new structure.

Audio-Visual materials were open to same sort of misuse. Tendency to regard audio-visual materials as a teaching method in themselves, not as a teaching aid.

Soon became clear to teachers that audio-visual approach could only assist in presentation of new materials. More subtle classroom skills were needed for pupils to assimilate material and use it creatively. This final vital phase was often omitted by teachers.

7 Series of classroom studies threw doubt on claims made for language laboratory. Showed that this costly equipment did not improve performance of 11+ beginners, when compared with same materials used on single tape-recorder in classroom.

But Audio-Lingual/(Visual approach did mark start of the technological age in language teaching and it did introduce important new elements Emphasised need for visual presentation and possibility of eliciting language from visual cues. It placed far more weight on use of foreign language in classroom by both teacher and pupil, and the language used was of far greater practicality.

More gifted and energetic teachers used new courses with great success - moved forward to open-ended question and answer work and extended dialogue, designed own supplementary materials, exercises and worksheets.

However, generally teachers were disillusioned and dissatisfied with the new methods - at a time when whole secondary education was being reorganised with advent of comprehensive schools.


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