Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Summary of TESOL Methodologies

The Grammar-Translation Method
In the Grammar-Translation Method, emphasis is placed on written work. Students translate sentences and answer grammar questions. Both written and spoken instructions are given in the students’ first language.
Translate the following sentences into your language. Circle the verbs.
John loves his cat.
Mary rides a bicycle.
Ali wears a hat.

The Direct Method
In the Direct Method, emphasis is placed on oral drill and repetition in the target language. Visuals and objects are used to stimulate discussion. Grammar is not taught. The Direct Method is carried out in small groups, which made it unpopular for use in schools.
Look at the picture. This is Mary. Who is this? What is Mary doing? What is she buying? Why is she there?

 The Audio-Lingual Method
The audio-lingual method emphasizes repetition of target language structures, often with slight variations. The content may be arranged by grammatical structure, but grammar is not taught explicitly. The language model is provided by the teacher or sometimes via an audio recording in a language laboratory.

Repeat after me:
1 Tony is hungry. He wants to eat.
2 Tony is thirsty. He wants to drink something.
3 Tony is dirty. He needs a shower.
4 Tony tired. He needs to sleep.
Now complete these sentences:
1 Tony is hungry. He wants ___________
2 Tony is thirsty. He wants ___________
3 Tony is dirty. He needs ___________
4 Tony tired. He needs ___________

The Natural Approach
The Natural Approach relies on the skills of the teacher to create a comfortable and stress-free classroom environment. The teacher guides the class using comprehension activities and the students are allowed to take their time to progress, especially in spoken English. Mistakes go uncorrected and grammar is not taught.  Students are given topics where they can express themselves freely and share opinions.

The Communicative Approach
The Communicative Approach emphasizes that language is a communication tool. For this reason, incorrect grammar and mistakes are acceptable as long as the message gets through. Classroom activities are based on topics that require communication—such as ordering food in a restaurant.  The topic is presented through a listening or reading activity, then practiced through drills or written activities and finally produced via a roleplay or group activity.
Speaking is the most important activity for a student and the time each student spends speaking in a class should be maximized.

The Functional-Notional Approach
Using this approach, language is broken down into situations, functions and notions and an English course is designed to reflect this. A situation may be ‘at the supermarket’. A function could be ‘showing agreement’ and a notion is any word or phrase used to convey meaning, such as ‘a fantastic bargain’.

The Dogme Movement
The Dogme Movement is based on the Communicative Method, but teachers are not to use a coursebook or even any pre-planned materials. The teacher’s role is to set up situations or discussions for the students and to facilitate the ‘emergence’ of useful language.
Task-Based Learning
Task-based learning is often called project-based learning. The approach is to give learners a task or a project and use this as a platform for practicing English. As the learners carry out the task, they may find gaps in their language abilities that need to be filled, with the help of the teacher. Learners usually enjoy this methodology since they are able to have fun and work in groups.
The focal point of Constructivism is that “humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas”.
Hence, a class with constructivist principles must be ’student-centred’ and not ’teacher-centered’. The content should be meaningful to the students and allow them to explore and learn what they can do with the language.  Learning should be an active process driven by the student and not the teacher, who is a ‘guide on the side’ rather than a ‘sage on the stage’. The change in terminology from ‘teacher’ to ‘facilitator’ reflects this.
‘Show and tell’ would be a good example of a constructivist activity. The student brings to class an object of personal value and practices English by presenting it to the class. The teacher’s interaction consists of guidance and feedback rather than direct instruction.
Constructivism is a concept in general training, not only in TESOL.

The Flipped Classroom
On a traditional course, instruction takes place in the classroom and practice is done at home (in the form of homework). In a ’flipped’ class, students go through the content at home (typically by watching a video) and the practice is done in class with the help of a teacher or other students. The aim is to make class time more valuable and to allow students to explore the content at their own pace. The increase in instructional videos beginning in the late ‘00s has helped to make the flipped classroom concept much easier to implement.
The flipped classroom is a movement in the wider world of training, not only in TESOL. 

Language Discovery
This is my own approach and I just wanted to describe it here. The teacher's role is to cultivate a love of English in the students and a desire to explore and learn more about the language. Listening and reading materials are approached with the question, 'What can I learn from this?' Learners are encouraged to analyse any language that they come across and find examples of sentence structures, grammar or vocabulary that they can learn. They are encouraged to use and try out new language items, both in class and in the outside world.

Eclecticism simply refers to making use of any of the various methodologies as the teacher sees fit. As we have seen, there are many methodologies that have been created throughout the years and they each seem to have pros and cons. Some are more suited to beginners and some are more suited to advanced learners. With the vast amount of content now available online, why not be pragmatic in your approach to language instruction?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bloom's Taxonomy Chart

I have created a chart featuring Bloom's Taxonomy. Feel free to use it in any projects you may have:

Full size version here

Friday, March 21, 2014

Globalization ESL Discussion Worksheet

I've finished and uploaded a conversation worksheet on the topic of Globalization.

This worksheet would be suitable for upper-intermediate to advanced learners, recommended age 16 and above.

Feel free to use and distribute it as you wish.


For other conversation worksheets, go to and click DOWNLOADS

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Idioms App for Android

Road To Grammar's idioms app has been totally reworked and re-released on the Google Play Store.

The previous version got around 75,000 downloads and many good reviews, but relied on users to install Adobe Air for it to work.

The new version is available here:

If you like it, review it on the Play Store!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Glossary of Training Terms

Using the same format as the grammar glossary, I have put together a glossary of training terms - good for people taking a train-the-trainer course.

The glossary is at:

It works on tablet and smartphone, too.


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

THEMSELF is getting more popular.

I think a lot of language purists dislike the word THEMSELF, even though language learners often see a logic in using it.

The usage over time is interesting, according to Google:

It spiked in the early 1800s before growing in popularity from the 1970s until now.

Even for non-language-purists, there is a right and a wrong way to use the word. We should use it in place of 'himself' or 'herself' when the gender is unclear. We shouldn't use it to replace 'themselves'.

Right:   A person who scores an 8.0 on the IELTS test may well feel proud of themself.
Wrong: They all did well on the IELTS test and they felt proud of themself. (should be themselves)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Look for Road To Grammar

A new year and a new look.

Road to Grammar has been updated so that the main site works on smartphones and tablets as well as laptops and desktops. Previously there was a separate mobile site.

The new look:

On mobile:

The site should now be much easier to use and navigate. Please comment if you are having any problems accessing it or seeing any glitches. Older Android tablets may have some minor issues, but a fix is coming soon.