BASIC ASSSUMPTIONS ABOUT LANGUAGE

Even though a theory of language in the direct method is not explicitly articulated, in this chapter the assumptions about language underlying the method have been crystallized from different sources (larsen-freeman, 2000 and mackey, 1975). In the direct method language is seen as what native speakers speak so that language learners not only learn the target language but also the culture of the native speakers. The method also suggests that language is seen as a set of grammatical rules and its vocabulary in real situations. Grammatical rules and its vocabulary are presented in texts: oral or written texts. Language teachers should use the grammar and vocabulary in contexts and then relate them to the situations in the classroom. The materials are arranged based on topics. Learning a target language means that the students are able to communicate in the target language, both oral and written form.

As long as the target language spoken by the language learners is understood by others, the language spoken is accepted. Vocabulary is emphasized over grammar. If language learners do not understood some words, the language teacher will demonstrate in the target language to make the student understand the meaning through pictures, mimics or other physical objects. Pronunciation is essential since mispronouncing a word may hinder communication. Grammar is learned after the learners are able to use the language; this leads to grammar teaching in an inductive way. The teacher should provide many example so that the students can draw conclusions from the examples. There is no explicit grammar rule given by the teacher but vocabulary exercises and systematic grammar drills may be given.

The direct method also sees that the four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing reinforce another but oral communication is seen basic. Language is primarily spoken, not written, and reading and writing may be given from the start but they are given afther the students practice using the language orally. If the materials to teach are reading texts, they should follow oral practice. Translation into the first language is avoided, even though at a more advanced level translation can be added as a part of vocabulary exercises and grammar drills. The textbook in the direct method is not a must and language teachers may work on grammar and vocabulary orally but no explicit grammar rule is discussed.

Even though the advocates of the direct method agree that structure and vocabulary is taught, the two components of the language must be taught in contexts. The evaluation in the class should be related to communication. The students are not asked about the knowledge of the language but they are asked to use the language. The evaluation can be done to measure both written and oral skills. The student may be interviewed orally to know how far they can use the language orally. The student may also be asked to write a sentence or paragraph so that their skill of using the language in written forms can be evaluated.

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