This method was developed at the end of the nineteenth century and it challenged the views on Grammar-Translation method. Gouin and others tried to put forth a method based on scientific observations of children’s language learning.
Franke (1884) put forth a proposition that monolingual language teaching could be effective by associating form and meaning. Target language should be used actively in class and grammar rules must not be explained.
The learner has to pick up the grammar of L2 as in the case of their L1, by exposing themselves to the language, inductively (Thornbury 2000). The textbook is not used in the initial years of learning and teacher decides what to teach.
Direct Method lost its popularity by 1920s in Europe and it was the first teaching method recognized by language teachers and experts. It moved language teaching into the ‘methods era’.
Principles of Direct Method
The language learning principles of the direct method are :-
- Teaching is done in the target language. Mother tongue/native language of the learners is neglected.
- Everyday vocabulary and sentences are given importance while teaching.
- Target language grammar is taught inductively.
- Teaching items of the lesson are introduced to the learners orally.
- Teacher and learner communicate orally in question and answer form.
- Realia, pictures or demonstration is used to teach vocabulary.
- The technique of association of ideas is used while teaching abstract vocabulary;
- Listening and speaking skills are given importance.
- Pronunciation and grammar are crucial.
Merits of Direct Method
- L2 is learnt just like learner’s L1
- Learner avoids L1 and thinks in L2
- Audiovisual teaching aids are used to make learning easier
- Emphasis is on speech. Hence, errors are corrected as and when they made.
Demerits of Direct Method
- The Direct Method failed to consider the ground realities like:
- English teachers must possess native-like fluency in English.
- It is “the product of enlightened amateurism” (Richards & Rodgers 2007: 13).
- Using only the target language to explain vocabulary is like performing verbal gymnastics.