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Methods for Learning a Foreign Language

    Communicative Approach

    • This communicative approach to language learning has communication and interaction as its goal. An early focus on comprehension receives support from classroom re-creations of everyday interactions and conversations. After students reach a level of basic comprehension and output, they can continue to learn basic speech patterns and vocabulary and build up to more fluent conversation.

    Total Physical Response

    • The Total Physical Response method uses an action-and-reaction teaching technique. With this method, the instructor gives the student a command, such as "Pick up the book," and the student must act out the command. By using his body in a physical activity to respond to a spoken prompt, the student can internalize the language. Students can practice output by repeating instructions to their fellow students.

    The Silent Way

    • With the Silent Way, students learn to speak the language and pronounce the words before they fully comprehend the meaning of the words. This method is known as the Silent Way because instructors remains silent as the students do the talking. Typically, the teacher displays a phonetics sound chart with the alphabet of the target language so that the students can practice enunciating words with proper pronunciations Through gestures, the instructor indicates errors in the pronunciations and the students must discern how to correct them. A teacher working with the Silent Way also typically uses brightly-colored rods of varying lengths to add an illustrative element to instruction.

    Total Immersion Technique

    • A language immersion program seeks to use only the target language in instruction. The student's native language should not interfere with the use of the target language. In the earliest phase of language immersion, the teacher should speak slowly and clearly to prevent confusion and frustration among the students. In addition, the teacher should use illustrative pictures, hand gestures and means other than the native language to assist in the learning process. At higher levels, a more normal speed of conversation may occur. An immersion program typically entails that the students use the target language in multiple contexts, rather than just in the classroom. Therefore, the teacher should coordinate activities outside the classroom, such as field trips, in which the students can use the target language.

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