The Audiolingual Method


A. Important Concepts

1. Selection of materials -- contrastive analysis

a. Major advocates and researchers in contrastive analysis: C.C. Fries and Robert Lado

b. Major claims:

The transfer claim: "Individuals tend to transfer the forms and meanings, and the distribution of forms and meanings of their native language and culture to the foreign languague and culture-- both productively when attempting to speak the language and to act in the culture, and receptively when attempting to grasp and understand the language and the culture as practiced by natives." (Lado, 1957, p.2)

The difficulty claim: "We assume that the student who comes in contact with a foreign language will find some features of it quite easy and others extremely difficult. Those elements that are similar to his native language will be simple for him, and those elements that are different will be difficult." (Lado, 1957, p. 2).

c. Method for doing contrastive analysis (steps involved in doing CA: a summary (from Ellis, 1994))
--description (a formal description of the two languages involved)
--selection (certain areas or items of the two languages were chosen)
--comparison (the identification of areas of difference and similarity)
--prediction (determining which areas where likely to cause errors)

2. Teaching Process: Presentation - Practice - Application (Production)

Presentation-- oral, dialogue, little explanation, L1 discouraged, errors corrected, accuracy emphasized, accurate repetition and memorization of the dialogue as goal of this stage;

Practice--pattern drills, mastery of the structure, fluency emphasized;

Application--use of the structure in different contexts;

3. Categorization of Drills: Mechanical, Meaningful, and Communicative drills (from Richards, Platt, and Weber, 1985)

A mechanical drill is one where there is complete control over the student's response, and where comprehension is not required in order to produce a correct response.

Example: book --> this is a book. pen --> this is a pen.

A meaningful drill is one in which there is still control over the response, but understanding is required in order for the student to produce a correct response.

 Teacher reads a sentence  Student choose a response
 I'm hot.
I'm cold.
I'm thirsty.
I'm hungry.
 I'll get you something to eat.
I'll turn on the air conditioning.
I'll get you something to drink.
I'll turn on the heater.

A communicative drill is one in which the type of response is controlled but the student provides his or her own content or information.

 Teacher Student completes cues
 What time did you get up on Sunday?
What did you have for breakfast?
 I got up _____ .
I had _____ .

B. Hands-on Activity

Dialogues are the basic form of instructional materials in the Audiolingual method. The dialogue serves three functions: a) illustrates the target structure; b) illustrates the situation the structure may be used; and c) provides cultural information for language use wherever possible.

Write a dialogue of ten to fifteen exchanges that meets the following criteria:

1. It has a clear focus on an English sentence pattern you are trying to teach and the same sentence pattern is repeated several times in the dialogue.

2. It uses everyday vocabulary that is appropriate for beginning to intermediate level students.

3. There is no other sentence pattern or grammatical phenomenon that is new to students or more complicated than the sentence pattern you are trying to teach.

Then design three drills, one for each type discussed above, based on this dialogue for practicing the structure.

The following is an example:

-- Hello Joy.
-- Hello Daddy.
-- How was your school today?
-- It was all right.
-- Do you have any homework today?
-- Yes, the teacher asked us to copy some new words.
-- Did she ask you to do any reading?
-- No, she didn't ask us to do any reading. But she told us to write a story.
-- Did she ask you to turn in the story tomorrow?
-- No, she wanted us to turn in the story on Friday.
-- What else did she want you to do?
-- Nothing else. She wanted us to have fun.
-- Do you want me to close the door.
-- Yes, please.

A Mechanical drill

1. Substitution/Replacement

 to open the window.
to write a letter.
to go home.
to shut the door.
to return the book.

2. Transformation

 He wanted me to open the window. -->
He asked me to return the book.
They wanted me to write a story.
We told him to buy a watch.
I asked her to visit me.
 Did he want me to open the window?
He didn't want me to open the window.

B. Meaningful Drill

Cues Student
 After I finished writing the letter,
When I got home,
 I asked my mom to mail it.
my dad asked me to have a snack.

C. Communicative drill
Students answer the following questions based on real situations:
-- What did your math teacher ask you to do this morning?
-- What did I tell you to do before we began the new lesson?
-- What do your parents often ask you to do on weekends?

Here is a list of structures you may use:

1. passive voice: The dog bit the child. The child was bitten by the dog.
2. relative clause: The man who is talking with my dad is my uncle.
3. present continuous tense: I am cleaning the window.
4. simple future tense: I will visit New York next summer.
5. be going to: I am going to play ping-pong tonight.
6. plural form: There are two books on the table.
7. third person singular: My dad goes to school everyday.
8. present participle phrase modifying a noun: Do you like the picture hanging on the wall?
9. simple past tense: I watched the game on Saturday.
10. Adjective phrase used as adverbial of place: I play volleyball near CDV every Friday.