As Direct method had serious drawbacks the Audio-Lingual Method came into existence. It was popular during the 1960s, especially in the United States. The other reason for the development of the Audiolingual Method was that the United States emerged as a major international power after the II World War and the demand for teaching English to immigrants and foreign learners also grew up.
This method stressed the need for oral drilling, pronunciation, and “mastery of the formal properties of language”, which implies good grammatical habits (Dendrinos 1992: 113) or ‘structure’ (Richards & Rodgers 2007: 52).
The Audiolingual Method declined as the learners could not apply skills learned in the class in real life situations. Theoretically, Noam Chomsky, a noted linguist, argued that languages were generated from the learners underlying knowledge of abstract rules (Chomsky 1966: 153).
The Principles of the Audio-Lingual Method
- Language is for communication.
- Language is learnt using the natural order: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
- Language is learnt contextually
- Repetition and drilling are common as language learning is a part of the habit
- Substitution drills are common to make learners know how language is used.
- Grammar structures are taught first, then vocabulary.
- Rules are taught using examples.
- Errors are corrected immediately.
- Teachers are the role models of language usage.
- Teachers teach the culture of the target language.
Merits of the Audio-Lingual Method
- It is grounded on a solid theory of language learning.
- The method is easy and functional to teach a large group of learners
- This method emphasized listening and speaking skills more.
- Visual aids are used for effective vocabulary teaching.
- It lays stress on correct pronunciation and structure.
Demerits of the Audio-Lingual Method
- ELT practitioners and scholars have disregarded this type of learning as this method is based on behaviorism.
- Communicative competence is not given due importance.
- The four basic skills are not given equal importance.
- “Form” is given more importance than “meaning”.
- Pattern practice, drilling, and memorization are mechanical in nature.
- The functional aspect of a language and its organic usage are ignored.
- Teacher dominates the method.