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Situational Language Teaching

The Oral Approach

Background
It was an approach for ELT developed by the British linguists from the 1930s to the 1960s. Two of the leaders in this movement were Harold Palmer and A. S. Hornby. Aim: To develop a more scientific foundation for an oral approach to ELT than the Direct Method.

Harold Edward Palmer

1877 - 1949

Hornby, Albert Sydney

1988 - 1978

Vocabulary control
Vocabulary was one of the most important aspects. Reading skills were emphasised as the goal of foreign language study in some countries. Palmer, Michael West and others produced the Interim Report on Vocabulary Selection (1936). Later revised by West (1953) as A General Service List of English Words.

Grammar control
Palmers view on grammar was very different from the abstract model of Grammar Translation-Method. Palmer, Hornby and other British applied linguists analysed English and classified its major grammatical structures into sentence patterns (later called substitution tables).

The Oral Approach and Situational Language


The new method involved systematic principles of selection, gradation and presentation. It was referred as the Oral Approach so as not to be confused with the Direct Method. One of its most active proponents in the 60s was the Australian George Pittman.

Main characteristics
1.

2. 3. 4.

Language teaching begins with spoken language. Material is presented orally before it is presented in written form. The target language is the language of the classroom. New language points are introduced and practiced situationally. Vocabulary selection procedures are followed to ensure that an essential general service vocabulary is

Main characteristics
Items of grammar are graded following the principle that simple forms should be taught before complex ones. 6. Reading and writing are introduced once a sufficient lexical and grammatical basis is established. How can SLT be characterised at the levels of approach, design, and procedure?
5.

Theories of language and learning

APPROACH

Theory of language

Teaching can be characterised as a type of British structuralism. Speech was the basis of language. Structure was the heart of speaking ability.

Word Order, Structural Words, the few inflections of English, Content Words, will form the material of our teaching Frisby, 1957. Our principal classroom activity in the teaching of English structure will be oral practice structures. This oral practice of controlled sentence patterns should be given in situations designed to give the greatest amount of practice

Theory of learning

A type of behaviourist habit-learning theory.

There are three processes in learning a language receiving the knowledge or materials, fixing it in the memory by repetition, and using it in actual practice until it becomes a personal skill Frisby, 1957. The fundamental is correct speech habits The pupils should be able to put the words, without hesitation and almost without thought, into sentence patterns which are correct. Such speech habits can

Theory of learning

Like the Direct Method, SLT adopts an inductive approach to the teaching of grammar.

If we give the meaning of a new word, either by translation into the home language or by an equivalent in the same language, as soon as we introduce it, we weaken the impression which the word makes on the mind Billows, 1961.

Objectives, the syllabus, activities, roles

DESIGN

Objectives
To teach a practical command of the four basic skills of language. Skills are approached through structure. Accuracy in both pronunciation and grammar is crucial. Errors to be avoided at all costs. Automatisation of basic structures and sentence patterns is fundamental to reading and writing skills; achieved through speech work.

The syllabus
Basic to teaching SLT is a structural syllabus and a word list. Structural syllabus: a list of basic structures and sentence patterns of English, arranged according to their order of presentation. Situation refers to the manner of presenting and practising sentence patterns.

Types of learning
A situational approach to present new sentence patterns. A drill-based manner of practising them. The use of concrete objects, pictures, and realia, which together with actions and gestures can be used to demosntrate the meanings of new language items.

Practice Techniques
Guided repetition. Substitution activities. Chorus repetition. Dictation. Drills. Controlled oral-based reading and writing tasks. Pair-practice & group work.

Learner roles
Initial stage: Ss listen & repeat; respond to questions and commands. Later learners may initiate responses and ask each other questions, although teacher-controlled introduction and practice of new language is stressed throughout.

Teacher roles

The teachers function is threefold:


1. A model. 2. Conductor of an orchestra. 3. A watchman.

Responsibilities:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Timing Oral practice, to suport the textbook structures. Revision (i.e. review) Adjustments to special needs of individuals. Testing. Developing language abilities other than those arising from the textbook. (Pittman 1963)

The role of instrumental material


Situational Language Teaching is dependent upon both a textbook and visual aids. Visual aids: charts, flashcards, pictures, sticks figures, and so on. A carefully graded grammatical syllabus is a crucial aspect of SLT. The textbook should be used only as a a guide to the learning process. The teacher is expected to be the master of his textbook Pittman 1963