The Audio Lingual Method

audiolingualmethodThe Audio Lingual Method is a style of teaching used in teaching foreign languages. It is based on behaviorist theory, which professes that certain traits of living things, and in this case humans, could be trained through a system of reinforcement—correct use of a trait would receive positive feedback while incorrect use of that trait would receive negative feedback.

The Audio Lingual Method drills students in the use of grammatical sentence patterns. It also. Unlike the direct method, has a strong theoretical base in linguistics and psychology.

Here are some of the objectives of the audio lingual method :

  • accurate pronunciation and grammar
  • ability to respond quicklyand accurately in speech situations
  • knowledge of sufficient vocabulary to use with grammar pattern

In Audio-Lingual Method the teacher want their students to be able to use the target language communicatively. In order to do this, they believe students need to overlearn the target language, to learn to use it automatically without stopping to think. Their students achieve this by forming new habits in the target language and overcoming the old habits of their native language.

The audio lingual method (ALM) was developed during World War II in reaction to approaches that did not adequately develop speaking skills. ALM was strongly influenced by ideas from behavioral psychology that led to the belief that language was a system of habits that could be taught by reinforcing correct responses and punishing incorrect responses. In an ALM lesson, students are asked to repeat correctly the word or phrase that the teacher has said. Students are praised for correctly mimicking the teacher or are asked to repeat the phrase until it is correct. Although aspects of this method, such as drills in the beginning stages of language learning, continue to be used, most language educators now realize that language is more complex than mere mimicking.

Strategy of The Audio Lingual Method

  • The teacher orally presents a phrase to the students.
  • Students are then asked to repeat the phrase quickly.
  • If a student pronounces the phrase correctly and grammatically, the student is praised. Students who do not say it correctly are asked to repeat until they can say it correctly.
  • The teacher modifies the phrase by changing a word in the phrase.
  • Students continue with drills in which they try to say the phrase quickly and accurately with various modifications.

Applications and Examples of The Audio-Lingual Method
Teaching Simple Present Tense

  • The teacher presents the simple present tense forms of a verb (or verbs) such as “like.”
  • The teacher says, “I like, he likes (emphasizing the ending “s”), she likes, it likes, we like, you like, they like.” The teacher may also add, “John likes, My mother likes,” etc.
  • Students repeat chorally, “I like, he likes, she likes, it likes, we like, you like, they like.”
  • The teacher then says the sentence “I like coffee.” Then the teacher cues an individual student with the word “he.” The student is expected to respond with “He likes coffee.” If the response is incorrect, the student is corrected and asked to try again until he or she can say the sentence correctly. The teacher cues other students with other subjects, so that a replacement drill occurs rapidly around the room.
  • The teacher may then change not only the subject but also the object. For example, the teacher may say to a student, “He/tea.” The student would correctly respond, “He likes tea.” Then the teacher might give the cue, “They/parties.”
  • The teacher might also use pictures instead of vocal cues. The teacher might then introduce the negative by modeling it, having students repeat it, and then do a drill in which students are cued (perhaps by an upturned or down-turned thumb) to make an affirmative or negative sentence.

Learning a Dialogue through ALM

  • The teacher presents a dialogue to the students. The teacher shows a picture of two people speaking to each other. Going through the dialogue, the teacher points to the picture to indicate who is speaking.
  • The teacher then repeats each line of the dialogue. The students repeat after the teacher.
  • The teacher repeats two lines of the dialogue as spoken by each person. One student is cued to say the first line of the dialogue. Another is cued to say the responding line. The teacher cues various students around the room to say the same thing. The teacher and students go through the dialogue in this manner until they have practiced all the lines of dialogue.
  • Then students are asked to perform the whole dialogue as a pair.

A Visual ALM Lesson
Presented by Becky Sutter, a Luther College education student

  • The teacher holds up a series of pictures of people with specific occupations. While showing each picture, the teacher says, “He is a firefighter” or “She is a police officer,” etc. The students are instructed to repeat chorally the exact phrase that the teacher says right after she or he says it.
  • The teacher praises the students as a group for repeating the phrase correctly or will ask them to repeat it again if several students have trouble with it.
  • The teacher goes through the set of pictures again, this time calling on individual students and prompting them with the same prompts provided before. The teacher praises the students who repeat the phrase correctly and asks students who repeat it incorrectly to try again.
  • The teacher goes through the pictures a third time, this time changing the prompt. She or he calls on a student, prompts that person with a picture of an occupation, and says, “I,” “you,” “she,” “we,” or “they.” The student is expected to produce a sentence such as, “They are cooks.” The teacher either praises the student or asks the student to repeat the sentence after her (or him) depending on the accuracy of the response.

Strengths of The Audio-Lingual Method

  • Controlled drills may encourage shy students to speak.
  • Because ALM lessons and drills tend to go very quickly, they may help create a sense of fluency for some students.

Weaknesses of The Audio-Lingual Method

  • Students who need the written word to reinforce their speaking and listening may find “pure” ALM very confusing.
  • ALM frequently uses nonauthentic language.
  • Some students may be unable to make the transition from controlled drills to more open-ended and creative language use.