The 'traditional methodologies'

Some of the methodological proposals traditionally included in the Humanistic Approaches are the Community Language Learning, Suggestopedia, T.P.R., the Silent Way and the Natural Method.

Some of the new theories included in the group are the Multiple Intelligences Theory, the Dominance Profile Theory, N.L.P. or the studies about the importance of the Affective Element.

Although some of these methodologies may show contradictions, however they have some points in common :

-The global aim to be achieved is a holistic and integral development.
-The work is always based on the pupils´ interests and needs.
-The pupils´ participation and involvement in the classroom planning is essential.
-The emphasis of the lessons is in the development of the communicative skills.
-The linguistic contents are as important as other different aspects:
.........The development of the affective element.
.........The development of self-esteem.
.........The development of the procedures to learn autonomously.
.........The development of the human values.





Suggestopedia is a method developed by the Bulgarian psychiatrist-educator Georgi Lozanov. Suggestopedia is a specific set of learning recommendations derived from Suggestology, which Lozanov describes as a "science . . . concerned with the systematic study of the nonrational and/or nonconscious influences" that human beings are constantly responding to (Stevick 1976: 42). Suggestopedia tries to harness these influences and redirect them so as to optimize learning. Suggestopedia includes the use of different elements. The most conspicuous ones are the decoration, furniture and arrangement of the classroom, the use of music, and the authoritative behavior of the teacher. The method has a somewhat mystical air about it, partially because it has few direct links with established learning or educational theory in the West, and partially because of its arcane terminology and neologisms, which one critic has unkindly called "a package of pseudo-scientific gobbledygook".

The claims for suggestopedic learning are dramatic. "There is no sector of public life where suggestology would not be useful'' (Lozanov ). "Memorization in learning by the suggestopedic method seems to be accelerated 25 times over that in learning by conventional methods (Lozanov 1978: 27). Precise descriptions of the conditions under which Suggestopedia experiments were run are as hard to come by as are precise descriptions of "successful" classroom procedures. For example, Earl Stevick, a generally enthusiastic supporter of Suggestopedia, notes that Suggestopedia teachers are trained to read dialogues in a special way. "The precise ways of using voice quality, intonation, and timing are apparently both important and intricate. I have found no one who could give a first-hand account of them".

Lozanov acknowledges ties in tradition to yoga and Soviet psychology. From raja-yoga, Loza-nov has borrowed and modified techniques altering states of consciousness and concentration, and the use of rhytmic breathing. From Soviet psychology Lozanov has taken the notion that all students can be taught a given subject matter at the same level of skill. Lozanov claims that his method, following different steps, works equally well whether or not students spend time on outside study. He promises success through Suggestopedia to the academically gifted and ungifted alike. Soviet psychology also stresses the learning environment, and Lozanov similarly specifies the requirements of an optimal learning environment in great detail .

Suggestopedia can perhaps be best understood as one of a range of theories that try to describe how attentiveness is manipulated to optimize learning and recall. A number of researchers have attempted to identify the optimal mental states for facilitating memorization and facilitating recall.

Lozanov believes most learning takes place in a relaxed but but focused state. We thus locate Lozanov's proposals in the aware-alert area.

A most conspicuous feature of Suggestopedia is the centrality of music and musical rhythm to learning. Suggestopedia thus has a kinship with other functional uses of music, particularly therapy. One of the earliest attested uses of music therapy is recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible: "When the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took up his harp and played with his hand; so Saul found relief; and it was well with him, and the evil spirit departed from him" (1 Samuel 12:23). Lozanov might have described this incident as the use of music to assist in the "liberation from discrete micro psychotraumata, for destruction of incompatible ideas about the limits of human capabilities".

Gaston (1968) defines three functions of music in therapy: to facilitate the establishment and maintenance of personal relations; to bring about increased self-esteem through increased self-satisfaction in musical perfomance; and to use the unique potential of rhythm to energize and bring order. This last function seems to be the one that Lozanov calls upon in his use of music to relax learners as well as to structure, pace, and punctuate the presentation of linguistic materia.

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The Total Physical Response Method.

Total Physical Response (TPR) is a language teaching method built around the coordination of speech and action. It attempts to teach language through physical (motor) activity and there are different reasons to recommend its use with young learners. Developed by James Asher, a professor of psychology at San Jose State University, California, it draws on several traditions, including developmental psychology, learning theory and humanistic pedagogy, as well as on language teaching procedures proposed by Harold and Dorothy Palmer in 1925.

Total Physical Response is linked to the "trace theory" of memory in psychology (e.g., Katona 1940), which holds that the more often or the more intensively a memory connection is traced, the stronger the memory association will be and the more likely it will be recalled. Retracing can be done verbally (e.g., by rote repetition) and/or in association with motor activity. Combined tracing activities, such as verbal rehearsal accompanied by motor activity, hence increase the probability of successful recall. In a developmental sense, Asher sees successful adult second language leraning as a parallel process to child first language acquisition. He claims that speech directed to young children consists primarily of commands, which children respond to physically before they begin to produce verbal responses. Asher feels adults should recapitulate the processes by which children acquire their mother tongue.

Asher shares with the school of humanistic psychology a concern for the role of affective (emotional) factors in language learning. A method that is undemanding in terms of linguistic production and that involves gamelike movements reduces learner stress, he believes, and creates a positive mood in the learner, which facilitates learning emphasis on developing comprehension skills before the learner is taught to speak links him to a movement in foreign language teaching sometimes referred to as the Comprehension Approach (Winitz 1981). This refers to several different comprehension-based language teaching proposals, which share the belief that

(a) comprehension abilities precede productive skills in learning a language;

(b) the teaching of speaking should be delayed until comprehension skills are established;

(c) skills acquired through listening transfer to other skills;

(d) teaching should emphasize meaning rather than form;and

(e) teaching should minimize learner stress.

The emphasis on comprehension and the use of physical actions to teach a foreign language at an introductory level has a long tradition in language teaching. In the nineteen century Gouin had advocated a situationally based teaching strategy in which a chain of action verbs served as the basis for introducing and practising new language items. Palmer experimented with an action-based teaching strategy in his book English Through Actions (first published in Tokyo in 1925 and ultimately reissued as Palmer and Palmer in 1959), which claimed that "no method of teaching foreign speech is likely to be eco nomical or successful which does not include in the first period a very considerable proportion of that type of classroom work which consist of the carrying out by the pupil of orders issued by the teacher.

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The Community Language Learning

Community Language Learning (CLL) is the name of a method developed by Charles A. Curran and his associates. Curran was a specialist in counseling and a professor of psychology at Loyola University, Chicago. His application of psychological counseling techniques to learning is known as Counseling-Learning. Community Language Learning represents the use of Counseling-Learning theory to teach languages. Within the language teaching tradition Community Language Learning is sometimes cited as an example of a "humanistic approach." Links can also be made between CLL procedures and those of bilingual education, particularly the set of bilingual procedures referred to as "language alternation" or "code switching." Let us discuss briefly the debt of Community Language Learning to these traditions.

As the name indicates, CLL derives its primary insights, and indeed its organizing rationale, from Rogerian counseling. Counseling, as Rogerians see it, consists of one individual (the counselor) assuming "insofar as he is able the internal frame of reference [of the client], perceiving the world as that person sees it and communicating something of this empathetic understanding" (Rogers 1951). In lay terms, counseling is one person giving advice, assistance, and support to another who has a problem or is in some way in need. Community Language Learning draws on the counseling metaphor to redefine the roles of the teacher (the counselor) and learners (the clients) in the language classroom. The basic procedures of CLL can thus be seen as derived from the counselor- client relationship.

Consider the following CLL procedures: A group of learners sit in a circle with the teacher standing outside the circle; a student whispers a message in the native language (L1); the teacher translates it into the foreign language (L2); the student repeats the message in the foreign language into a cassette; students compose further messages in the foreign language with the teacher's help; students reflect about their feelings. We can compare the client-counselor relationship in psychological counseling with the learner-knower relationship in Community Language Learning.

CLL techniques also belong to a larger set of foreign language teaching practices sometimes described as humanistic techniques. Moskowitz defines humanistic techniques as those that blend what the student feels, thinks and knows with what he is learning in the target language. Self-actualization and self-esteem are the ideals the exercises pursue. The techniques asociated witj this method help build rapport, cohesiveness, and caring that far transcend what is already there. They also foster a climate of caring and sharing into the foreign language class by helping students to be themselves, to accept themselves and be proud of themselves. In sum, humanistic techniques engage the whole person, including the emotions and feelings (the affective realm) as well as linguistic knowledge and behavioral skills. That´s why it can be used to cope with language anxiety.

Another language teaching tradition with which Community Language Learning is linked is a set of practices used in certain kinds of bilingual education programs and referred to by Mackey as language alternation." In language alternation, a message/lesson/class is presented first in the native tongue and then again in the second language. Students know the meaning and flow of an L2 message from their recall of the parallel meaning and flow of an L1 message. They begin to holistically piece together a view of the language out of these message sets. In CLL, a learner presents a message in L1 to the knower. The message is translated into L2 by the knower. The learner then repeats the message in L2, addressing it to another learner with whom he or she wishes to communicate. CLL learners are encouraged to attend to the "overhears'' they experience between other learners and their knowers. The result of the "overhear" is that every member of the group can understand what any given learner is trying to communicate. In view of the reported success of language alternation procedures in several well-studied bilingual education settings it may be that this little-discussed aspect of CLL accounts for more of the informally reported successes of CLL students than is usually acknowledged.



The Silent Way

The Silent Way is the name of a method of language teaching devised by Caleb Gattegno. Gattegno's name is well known for his revival of interest in the use of colored wooden sticks called cuisenaire rods and for his series Words in Color, an approach to the teaching of initial reading in which sounds are coded-by specific colors. His materials are copyrighted and marketed through an organization he operates called Educational Solutions Inc., in New York.

The Silent Way represents Gattegno's venture into the field of foreign language teaching. It is based on the premise that the teacher should be silent as much as possible in the classroom and the learner should be encouraged to produce as much language as possible. Elements of the Silent Way, particularly the use of colour charts and the colored cuisenaire rods, grew out of Gattegno's previous experience as an educational designer of reading and mathematics programs. (Cuisenaire rods were first developed by Georges Cuisenaire, a European educator who used them for the teaching of math. Gattegno had observed Cuisenaire and this gave him the idea for their use in language teaching.) The Silent Way shares a great deal with other learning theories and educational philosophies. Very broadly put, the learning hypotheses underlying Gattegno's work could be stated as follows:

1. Learning is facilitated if the learner discovers or creates rather than remembers and repeats what is to be learned.

2. Learning is facilitated by accompanying (mediating) physical objects.

3. Learning is facilitated by problem solving involving the material to be learned.
Let us consider each of these issues in turn.

1. The educational psychologist and philosopher Jerome Bruner distinguishes two traditions of teaching- that which takes place in the expository mode and that which takes place in the hypothetical mode. In the expository mode "decisions covering the mode and pace and style of exposition are principally determined by the teacher as expositor; the student is the listener." In the hypothetical mode "the teacher and the student are in a more cooperative position. The student is not a bench- bound listener, but is taking part in the formulation and at times may play the principal role in it". The Silent Way belongs to the latter tradition, which views learning as a problem-solving, creative, discovering activity, in which the learner is a principal actor rather than a bench-bound listener. Bruner discusses the benefits derived from "discovery learning" under four headings:

(a) the increase in intellectual potency,

(b) the shift from extrinsic to intrinsic rewards,

(c ) the learning of heuristics by discovering, and

(d) the aid to conserving memory.

As we shall see, Gattegno claims similar benefits from learners taught via the Silent Way.

2. The rods and the color-coded pronunciation charts (called Fidel charts) provide physical foci for student learning and also create memorable images to facilitate student recall. In psychological terms, these visual devices serve as associative mediators for student learning and recall. The psychological literature on mediation in learning and recall is voluminous but, for our purposes, can be briefly summarized in a quote from Earl Stevick: If the use of associative mediators produces better retention than repetition does, it seems to be the case that the quality of the mediators and the student's personal investment in them may also have a powerful effect on memory.

3. The Silent Way is also related to a set of premises that we have called "problem-solving approaches to learning. "These premises are succinctly represented in the words of Benjamin Franklin:

............................................................ Tell me and I forget,
............................................................ teach me and I remember,
............................................................ involve me and I learn.

In the language of experimental psychology, the kind of subject involve ment that promotes greatest learning and recall involves processing of material to be learned at the "greatest cognitive depth" or, for our purposes, involving the greatest amount of problem-solving activity. Memory research has demonstrated that the learner's memory benefits from creatively searching out, discovering and depicting. In the Silent Way, "the teacher's strict avoidance of repetition forces alertness and concentration on the part of the learners". Similarly, the learner's grappling with the problem of forming an appropriate and meaningful utterance in a new language leads the learner to realization of the language "through his own perceptual and analytical powers" .The Silent Way student is expected to become "independent, autonomous and responsible" - in other words, a good problem solver in language.

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The Natural Approach

In 1977, Tracy Terrell, a teacher of Spanish in California, outlined a proposal for a 'new' philo-sophy of language teaching which he called the "Natural Approach". This was an attempt to develop a language teaching proposal that incorporated the naturalistic" principles researchers had identified in studies of second language acquisition. The Natural Approach grew out of Terrell's experiences teaching Spanish classes. Since that time Terrell and others have experimented with implementing the Natural Approach in elementary to advanced-level classes and with several other languages. At the same time he has joined forces with Stephen Krashen, an applied linguist at the University of Southern California, in elaborating a theoretical rationale for the Natural Approach, drawing on Krashen's influential theory of second language acquisition. Krashen and Terrell's combined statement of the principles and practices of the Natural Approach appeared in their book, The Natural Approach, published in 1983. The Natural Approach has attracted a wider interest than some of the other innovative language teaching proposals discussed in this book, largely because of its support by Krashen. Krashen and Terrell's book contains theoretical sections prepared by Krashen that outline his views on second language acquisition (Krashen 1981; 1982), and sections on implementation and classroom procedures, prepared largely by Terrell.

Krashen and Terrell have identified the Natural Approach with what they call "traditional" approaches to language teaching. Traditional approaches are defined as "based on the use of language in comminicative situations without recourse to the native language" - and, perhaps needless to say, without reference to grammatical analysis, grammatical drilling, or to a particular theory of grammar. Krashen and Terrell note that such "approaches have been called natural, psychological, phonetic, new, reform, direct, analytic, imitative and so forth".The fact that the authors of the Natural Approach relate their approach to the Natural Method has led some to assume that Natural Approach and Natural Method are synonimous terms. Although the tradition is a common one, there are important differences between the Natural Approach and the older Natural Method, which it will be useful to consider at the outset.

The Natural Method is another term for what by the turn of the century had become known as the Direct Method. It is described in a report on the state of the art in language teaching commisioned by the Modern Language Association in 1901 (the report of the Committee of 12):

In its extreme form the method consisted of a series of monologues by the teacher interspersed with exchanges of question and answer between the instructor and the pupil - all in the foreign language . . . A great deal of pantomime accompanied the talk. With the aid of this gesticulation, by attentive listening and by dint of much repetition the learner came to associate certain acts and objects with certain combinations of the sounds and finally reached the point of reproducing the foreign words or phrases . . . Not until a considerable familiarity with the spoken word was attained was the scholar allowed to see the foreign language in print. The study of grammar was reserved for a still later period.

The term natural, used in reference to the Direct Method, merely emphasized that the principles underlying the method were believed to conform to the principles of naturalistic language learning in young children. Similarly, the Natural Approach, as defined by Krashen and and Terrell is believed to conform to the naturalistic principles found in successful second language acquisition. Unlike the Direct Method, however it places less emphasis on teacher monologues, direct repetition, and formal questions and answers, and less focus on accurate production of target language sentences. In the Natural Approach there is an emphasis on exposure, or input, rather than practice; optimizing emotional preparedness for learning; a prolonged period of attention to what the language learners hear before they try to produce language; and a willingness to use written and other materials as a source of comprehensible input. The emphasis on the central role of comprehension in the Natural Approach links it to other comprehension-based approaches in language teaching.




Some basic reading :

Arnold, J. (ed) (1999). Affect in Language Learning. Cambridge. C.U.P.

Hearn, I. & Garcés, A. (2003). Didáctica del Inglés. Madrid, Pearson, Prentice Hall.

Richards, J. & Rodgers, T. (2003) Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge. C.U.P.

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford, O.U.P.

Harmer, J. (1991). The Practice of English Language Teaching. New York, Longman.