The Direct Method

The Direct Method
The direct method was originated in France in 1901. According to Webster’s New International Dictionary “Direct method is a method of teaching a foreign language especially a modern language, through conversation, discussion and reading in the language itself, without the use of pupil’s language, without translation and without the study of formal grammar.”
            A child learns his mother tongue in a natural environment where the learner experiences what he learns. In the learning of a foreign language also a natural environment should be created. “To teach directly is to establish a direct or immediate association between experience and expression, between English word, phrase or idiom and its meaning” says H.Champion
Aims of Direct method
The major aims of Direct Method are:
X  To make the pupil think and express his own thoughts and feelings in English without the intervention of his mother tongue.
X   To enable the child to grasp what he hears or reads in English.
Features of Direct Method
H.E. Palmer has enumerated the following feature of this method
1.      Translation in every shape of form is banished from the class room, including the use of mother tongue and of the bilingual dictionary
2.      Grammar, when it is taught, is taught inductively
3.      Oral teaching precedes any form of reading and writing
4.      The use of disconnected sentences is replaced by the use of connected texts
5.      Pronunciation si to be taught systematically on a more or less phonetic lines
6.      the meanings of words and forms are taught by means of objects orr by natural context
7.            The vocabulary and structure of the language are inculcated to a large  extent by questions asked by the teachers and  answered by the pupil

Principles of Direct Method
Oral Practice:  This method lays emphasis on oral teaching. Thorough drilling is given to the pupils for listening imitating and speaking. Phonetics is also given much importance. Thus the students acquire a good pronunciation and fluency.

The Unit of Speech is a sentence not a word:     In the direct method emphasis is laid on speaking full sentences and the teacher presents every sentence with the help of appropriate situations.

Inhibition of Mother Tongue:        As far as possible mother tongue is not used while teaching. The language should be associated with its meaning directly, without the assistance of mother tongue.

Inductive teaching of Grammar: Main emphasis is laid on functional grammar not on theoretical grammar. Hence grammar is taught inductively and indirectly.

Introducing New Words:   There are certain ways in which the teacher can introduce new words;          By direct association with an action, gesture or an object
By association with a representation of the same in a picture
By inferences from the context
By explanation in English using words already familiar to students

The method is Psychologically Sound:    It follows the main principles of education viz. “proceed from particular to general, proceed from concrete to the abstract and practice must precede theory”

Natural Method:   in the direct method, the order of teaching is listening, speaking, reading and writing. This is the natural order of learning a language. It begets fluency of speech:  a lot of attention is paid to oral training in this method. Direct association between word and meaning tends to improve expression of speech.

It facilitates thinking in English:  the inhibition of mother tongue creates a direct bond between idea and expression. It associates “words with things, things with context, and context with expression in the new language”

Increased use of Audio Visual aids:   the use of objects, pictures and models, other illustrations, activities, demonstrations, T.V., radio, computer, etc. makes the lesson more interesting and real. They leave ever lasting impressions in the minds of the pupils.

Incomplete Method:  this method makes only aural-oral appeal and ignores reading and writing skills. Aural oral appeal is stronger but all children are not linguistically minded.

Lack of Teaching Formal Grammar:  Since grammar is taught inductively, students may not acquire mastery over grammatical rules

Lack of Trained teachers:  this method requires expertise on the part of the teachers with proper training in phonetics and linguistics are few in number.Lack of teaching aids:  this method needs proper facilities with well equipped language laboratory, teaching aids such as radio, television, linguaphone, etc. they are not affordable in Indian circumstances.

Not suitable for all learners:   Dr. Breton says “only the clever child can profit by this method’. Dull learners and below average learners cannot cope up with this method.

Time consuming method:  Only limited number of words can be directly associated with objects. Precious time is wasted in elaborating meaning, which may be successfully conveyed in mother tongue.

Suggestive Measures:
In the opinion of P.Gurrey and Dr. West, “It is a principle which can be used along with some method.” Morris recommends the following modifications in Direct method.
 The basis of language is its oral form. All lessons should be conducted on the lines of Direct method
 Translation may be used when the other medium is not effective
 It must be born in mind that this method is a positive method presented with briskness, liveliness and intensiveness.