Short notes on the Direct Method of Teaching English

In the beginning Translation-Method was followed in the teaching of English as a foreign language. Emphasis was laid on translation and grammar in teaching the language. No provision was made for training in speech. Through this translation method English was taught by giving the meaning of new English words, phrases and sentences with the help of word-by-word translation in the Vernacular. This implied in a sense, teaching of English through the medium of mother tongue.

The Direct Method was a reaction to this Translation Method and was introduced in India in the early Twentieth Century. It is a method in which attempt is made to teach English without using the mother tongue as a medium. That is, a direct as well as immediate bond is established between the English words, phrases or idioms and their meanings.

For the first time the Direct Method has accepted in theory needs and principles of learning a foreign language. It aims at teaching English in its natural setting and does not tolerate any interference of the mother-tongue. It seeks to establish direct relationship between the real experience and the corresponding expression, Macnee has, rightly stated, "The Direct Method of teaching a foreign language may be defined as a method in which a new word or expression is connected in the pupils' mind directly with what it stands for and not through the medium of the vernacular." For example the word 'book' is connected directly with the real thing 'book' and not through vernacular word 'bahi' or pustak' when, such direct connection is not possible, explanation etc. of words or expressions.

H.E. Palmer in his book "English through Actions" has described the following conditions for operation of the Director Method of teaching English.

(1) There should be no use of the mother-tongue in the class. This method does away with any resort to mother-tongue either in the form of translation or in the form of expression of words.

(2) No formal grammar should be taught. Only functional dammar should be taught in inductive method.

(3) After the pupil grasps the structures and vocabulary through oral work, he is introduced to reading and writing.

(4) The children should be well-grounded in pronunciation systematically.

(5) The new words and forms are to be explained through natural surroundings.

(6) The structures and vocabulary are to be impressed through suitable questions and answers.

Since direct association through oral work is an essential feature of the Direct Method, the beginning can be made by associating objects in the class rooms, pictures, gestures, postures etc. with a large number of English words which may be classified under the different parts of speech. The following general principles may be observed in teaching English by this a Method.

(1) When the pupil learns names of things (nouns) the real objects should be shown to him. If it will not be possible then diagrams, illustrations, sketches, models etc. are to be used.

(2) When words which stand in place of the names of things or persons (Pronouns) are to be introduced; they should be used in connection with the persons and things actually present in the situation of the child.

(3) When introducing the adjectives, number may be counted (five pens), quality may be seen (white horse), felt (cold drink), smelt (a sweet rose) and heard (a loud voice).

(4) When introducing prepositions, conjunctions, and the relationships may be demonstrated as a book placed on, in, above, below, besides etc.

(5) When introducing adverbs, manner, time-cause of actions etc. may be explained by actions, like walking slowly, sitting idle, reading aloud etc.

(6) The unit of speech is a sentence and not a word. Practice of speaking in complete sentences is to be always adhered to.