The Direct Method

In the 19th century, reformers began experimenting on the ways a child learns a language naturally. In a natural set up, a child does not need grammar to learn the mother tongue. Language comes to the child through listening, then speaking and afterwards reading and writing. These observations led to the claim that a foreign language could also be taught without teaching grammar or using mother tongue.

German scholar F. Franke (1884) believed that a language can be best taught by using it actively in the classroom. Instead of explaining rules of grammar, teachers must encourage direct and natural use of the language. The teacher replaces the textbook in early stages. Speaking begins with systematic attention to  pronunciation. New vocabulary is taught using known words, pictures, demonstration and mime. Thus natural learning principles provide  the  foundation  of  the  Direct  Method,  also  known  as  the  Natural Method.

Principle of Direct Method of teaching-

  • Direct link between the word and its meaning: - The mother tongue does not come between the English words its meaning. It is an attempt to minimize the use of mother-tongue and translation method .
  • Inhabitation on the use of mother - tongue: - This method is also called natural method of teaching. Because it teaches the language in its natural forms not in translation form.
  • Oral Training: - It lays emphasis on oral training. It creates the direct bond between language and thought. Audio-visual aids are used to explain the meaning, stress is given on speech.
  • Using  Sentence  as  the  unit  of   speech: - Sentence  is the  unit  of  the language. It does not focus on individual word. Because words have  no meaning whether they are not arranged in order. So, sentence is the basic unit of English teaching.
  • Inductive teaching of grammar: - It has no place for theoretical grammar. Grammar is taught indirectly and inductively. Rules of grammar are not taught directly. In this method language, proceeds grammar.

  1. Krikman, "Learning of grammar is not a precondition of learning the language. Grammar is not an end in itself "
  2. Champion, "In the direct method, grammar is not an end but a means to an end, as a guide to enable the student to correct errors of language".
  • Questionnaire technique is adopted.
  • Emphasis is given on pronunciation.
  • Vocabulary is taught on the basis of selection and gradation. Two maxims of teachings are followed.
1.                  Simple to complex
2.                  Concrete to abstract.

Advantages of Direct Method

The Direct Method, Principle, Advantages and Disadvantages of Direct Method of teaching, ENGLISH PEDAGOGY Notes, CTET 2015 Exam Notes, TEACHING OF ENGLISH Study Material
Makes English Easier: - It makes easier the understanding of English by doing away with the intervention of mother-tongue and  establishing direct link between the English words or phrases and concrete objects. The learner acquires the ability to understand directly what he hears or reads in English.

Develop Reading Habit- The student taught through this method acquires a great love for reading English magazines and books. It encourages self-study in English. This method of teaching a foreign language was a sort of reaction against the traditional method.

Fluency  of  speech- Direct method aims to develop fluency in speech. It establishes a direct  link between  experience  and expression. A  direct association is established between the word a linguistic symbol  and the thing symbolized by it. Their pronunciation is also better, as  they are given free opportunity to speak English.

Based on Psychological principles- It lays emphasis on making sentence as the unit of the learning. It makes  ample use of demonstration and audio-visual aids. These aids make the lesson interesting because it is based on sound psychological principal of teaching. It proceeds from the whole to the parts.

Emphasis on written work- It leads to ease in writing as writing requires ability of expression. It is noticed that those who can speak fluently can also write easily.

Disadvantages of Direct Method

Suitable teachers are not available- It can be successful only in the hands of able and experienced teachers. Most of Indian teachers have command of English. Pronunciation is not so good. They cannot make ample use of this method.

Not a complete method- It lays great stress or emphasis on the oral aspect of language learning. It neglects all three aspect of language learning i.e. listening, reading and writing. Students who are good in speaking commit many mistakes i.e. grammatical and spellings.

Lack of atmosphere- The success of this method requires a proper atmosphere. But such type of atmosphere is not developed in India English atmosphere created by the teacher in his period will soon disappear and lose its significance and total effect. The pupils will find themselves translated from England to India with the ringing of the bell. It is also true that the greater number of Indians requires only a 'passive knowledge of English'.

Lack  of  facilities- It requires audio-visual aids like language  laboratory. These facilities are lacking in India. Visual presentation is more effective than purely auditory or vocal. All children are not linguistic-minded.

Words  cannot  have  direct link with their  meaning- only a limit number of words can be directly associated with their meanings or objects they represent. Some words phrases and idioms that bear abstract sense cannot be taught directly e.g. honesty, integrity, and truth,   beautiful . The meaning of a word like,  'organization' cannot  be   conveyed  without defining it through the mother-tongue.

The difference in the meanings of 'tremble' and 'shiver', small and 'short' fat and thick 'pretty and' 'beautiful', Fetch' and 'bring' will not be easily learnt in the Direct Method.

Difficult   and   Expensive-  Indian  schools  cannot  provide  for  sufficient equipment and facilities for using this method  successfully.  Most of the schools   have   no   buildings   of   their   own.   Classroom   fall   short   of accommodation.

Reason for failure in India- First, text books were not graded as regards grammar and composition. Second, a vast majority of English teachers did not possess sufficient command of the language and ability to practice it.

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