AUDIO-LINGUAL AUDIO-VISUAL METHODMid 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

1 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.

3 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.

4 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.

New technology caught publishers and text-book writers unprepared – very few commercial materials were available in the early stages. Those that did exist stressed oral and aural skills and didn’t develop reading and writing skills.

6 New materials necessitated extensive use of equipment with all associated problems of black-out, extension leads, carrying tape-recorders from classroom to classroom. Some schools set up Specialist- Language rooms, but teachers still had to set up projectors and find places on tape. Equipment could break down, projector lamps explode, tapes tangle – not sophisticated equipment of today. Hardware involved extra time, worry and problems, and, for these reasons alone, its use gradually faded away.

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.

Examples of Drill Patterns

Audio – Lingual Drill Meaningful Drill
Audio-Visual Drill  Open-Ended Drill

Audio – Lingual Drill

tape stimulus student response
Je vais à la boucherie
Je vais à la gendarmerie
Je vais à la gendarmerie
Je vais au cinéma
Je vais au cinéma
Je vais à la discothèque
Je vais à la discothèque
Je vais au théâtre
Je vais au théâtre
Je vais au supermarché

Audio-Visual Drill (as in 1966 textbook)

Das hat er schon einmal gefragt
Das habe ich schon einmal gefragt
Das habe ich schon einmal gegessen
Das habt ihr schon einmal gegessen
Das habt ihr schon einmal gesehen
 Das hast du schon einmal gesehen


Meaningful Drills

tape stimulus student response
Il faut acheter du pain 
(où vas-tu?)

Je vais à la boulangerie
Il faut acheter des gâteaux (où vas-tu?)
Je vais à la pâtisserie
Il faut jouer au football 
(où vas-tu?)

Je vais au terrain de sports
 Il faut parler à la police 
(où vas-tu?)

Je vais à la gendarmerie
Il faut acheter des provisions 
(où vas-tu?))

Je vais au supermarché

Open-Ended Drill

Imaginez un peu! Il faut acheter quelque chose à manger.Où vas-tu ?
Pupil 1:
Je vais à la boulangerie.
A la boulangerie? Oui, et toi, Jacques?
Pupil 2:
Moi, je vais à la pâtisserie.
Ha! Tu aimes les gâteaux, non? Et toi?
Pupil 3:
Je vais au supermarché
Au supermarché! Bonne idée! Et toi, Marie?
Pupil 4:
Je vais au café
Encore une bonne idée. Et toi, Bernard?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s