Direct method (education) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Direct Method, sometimes also called Natural Method, is a method for teaching foreign languages that refrains from using the learners' native language and just uses the target language. It was established in Germany and France around 1900. Characteristic features of the direct method are

* teaching vocabulary through pantomiming, realia and other visuals
* teaching grammar by using an inductive approach (i.e. having learners find out rules through the presentation of adequate linguistic forms in the target language)
* centrality of spoken language (including a native-like pronunciation)
* focus on question-answer patterns
* teacher-centeredness

1. Classroom instructions are conducted exclusively in the target language.
2. Only everyday vocabulary and sentences are taught.
3. Oral communication skills are built up in a carefully graded progression organized around question-and-answer exchanges between teachers and students in small, intensive classes.
4. Grammar is taught inductively.
5. New teaching points are introduced orally.
6. Concrete vocabulary is taught through demonstration, objects, and pic­tures; abstract vocabulary is taught by association of ideas.
7. Both speech and listening comprehensions are taught.
8. Correct pronunciation and grammar are emphasized.

[edit] Historical context

The Direct Method was an answer to the dissatisfaction with the Grammar Translation Method, which teaches students in grammar and vocabulary through direct translations and thus focuses on the written language.

There was an attempt to set up such conditions as would imitate the mother tongue acquisition. For this reason the beginnings of these attempts were marked as the Natural Method. At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, Sauveur and Franke proposed that teaching language should be undertaken within the target-language system; this was the first stimulus for the rise of the Direct Method.

Later, Sweet recognized the limits of the Direct Method and proposed a substantial change in methodology, introducing the Audio-Lingual Method.


* Bussmann, Hadumod (1996), Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics, London/New York, s.v. direct method
* Krause, C. A. (1916), The Direct Method in Modern Languages, New York.

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