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Language Teaching Methodology

Introduction

The difference between a linguist and a polyglot is that while a polyglot can speak many languages, a linguist can as well speak many languages and focuses on use, structure and psychology of the language. Becoming a linguist is thus a very challenging task and requires proper training than the training a polyglot would undergo. The methodology used to teach a language determines the ease at which the learners grasp the concepts. Many methods are used to teach languages today. The first applied linguist to develop a method of teaching languages was Anthony, who came up with three methods. The three methods developed by Anthony were silent way, community language learning and Suggestopedia. Ever since many other methods have been developed, yet no single method has been identified as the best. Even though linguistic teachers may consider one method or the other as the best, the same method may not be the preferred to the learners. This research was conducted to investigate the most preferred language teaching method by linguistic students.

There are very many methods of teaching languages that have been developed and studied. Although Celce-Murcia covers some of the most commonly used methods, her approach aims at discussing the method and their origins. Very few studies have endeavored to determine the best method among the long list of methods. Nevertheless, even among the few studies that have researched on the best method, none have factored the interest of the learners. This study, therefore, will be of great significance as it aims to determine the best language teaching method by taking the learners' view approach. Knowing the learner’s preferred method equates to knowing the method that makes the students understand what their teacher is teaching them. As such, the results of this survey can be used to find out the best method for better understanding by the students.

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Based on the fact that the use of a given method depends on the objective of the teacher, I hypothesized that there is no single method of teaching language that is preferred by the students. I selected few methodologies which include Grammar Translation, Direct Method, Audio-lingualism, Humanistic Approaches, Communicative Language Teaching, Principled Eclecticism and listed in Groom & Littlemore to find the student’s views about them. The study asked the students which among the listed methods they preferred.

Methods

Researchers are often quick to inquire the best method from the instructors because they believe it is the instructors who decide which method to use. However, in this research, I obtained my information from the least expected group; the students. Nonetheless, not all students qualified to be included in the study. The study only required linguistic students. Thirty college students, both male and female, taking linguistic studies were, therefore, included in the sample for the research. Due to the large population in the college, snowball sampling technique was used to select the participants. One participant, therefore, suggested the next person he or she felt was resourceful to the research project. The snowball technique was arrived at because of the limited time available for the research. However, the researcher also moderated to ensure that one gender was not overrepresented.

The data used for this project was the students' preference for a particular teaching methodology. Even though there was limited time for the project, this project was a unique one. I wanted the project to be as accurate as possible. Therefore, despite there being other data collection methods that could help save time such as telephone interview, I opted for face-to-face interview and questionnaire administration. The Respondents were first screened to see if they qualified for the study, where the screening variable was whether the student took linguistic studies. The screening was done by word of mouth, and the student who passed the screening test was recruited to answer the survey questions.

In the questionnaire, the participant was required to fill his or her demographic information in the first part and then respond to the survey questions in the second part. The demographic information included factors such as age, gender, race and registration number. The age bracket for my respondents was 18 – 40 since the majority of the students fall in that age bracket. There was no restriction on which race to include in the study. The races listed in my questionnaire were, white, African, Asian, and Hispanic. Anybody who did not fall in the four categories was grouped as other. The demographic information was necessary for the sake of quality control purposes. Research ethics requires that the participants’ identity remain a secret. In this research, the participants were not allowed to write their names anywhere in the questionnaire. The registration number was used in place of names for the purpose of tracing back the questionnaire if need be. However, these demographic data were not included in Excel for analysis.

On the second part, the participants were required to list the language teaching methodologies that he or she was aware of. After listing the methods, the respondent was then presented with a list of six teaching methodologies and asked to rate the methodologies on a scale of one to six. The participants were required to rate the methodologies such that their most preferred would be given six points as the least preferred get one point. In the case where the respondent is not aware of the methodology, the researcher will provide a brief description of the methodology. The methods investigated were Grammar translation, Direct Method, Audio-lingualism, Humanistic Approaches, Communicative Language Teaching, and Principled Eclecticism.

The researcher then entered the collected data into Microsoft Excel for analysis. The major tests performed in the data analysis were ANOVA, to test for the difference among the means for the teaching methodology scores and frequency distribution to test for the most preferred method. The frequency distribution of the scores was also presented graphically using bar charts.

Result

Table 1: ANOVA

Source of Variation

SS

df

MS

F

P-value

F crit

Between Groups

11.33333

5

2.266667

1.542634

0.178973

2.266062

Within Groups

255.6667

174

1.469349

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

267

179

 

 

 

 

 

The observed F value is 1.5426 whereas the F critical is 2.266. The ANOVA produces a p-value of 0.179.

Table 2: Summary Statistics

Teaching method

Count

Sum

Average

Variance

Grammar Translation

30

127

4.233333

2.254023

Direct Method

30

104

3.466667

1.636782

Audio-lingualism

30

108

3.6

1.006897

Humanistic Approaches

30

119

3.966667

1.274713

Communicative Language Teaching

30

114

3.8

0.993103

Principled Eclecticism

30

118

3.933333

1.650575

 <p>The teaching methods all had different scores. Grammer translation had an average score of 4.23, direct method had and average rating of 3.467 while audio-lingualism had an average rating of 3.6. The humanistic approach, communicative language teaching, and principled eclecticism had average scores of .97, 3.8 and 3.93 respectively. These scores are represented graphically as shown in the bar chart below.</p>

 

Average scores

The mean age of my respondents was 23.47 years with the majority being 23 years old. The oldest participant was 35 years old while the youngest participant was eighteen years old.

Table 3: Age

age

 

 

 

Mean

23.46667

Median

23

Mode

23

Standard Deviation

3.607782

Range

17

Minimum

18

Maximum

35

Count

30

In the place where the students were asked to list the language teaching method they know, I was encouraged by how the students were familiar with these methods. The study had hoped that some students would be blank and was prepared to get a description of a method from the student so as to categorize the method but that was not the case. All the participants knew at least one teaching method by name. Even though the respondents had a chance to list up to five teaching methods, most of them listed only three. Interestingly, most of the methods listed by the students were the very ones that the study had considered as the most commonly applied in teaching. The list was dominated by grammar translation, direct method, humanistic approach, and audio-lingualism.

Discussion

The task of this research project was to test the hypothesis that there is no single method of teaching language that is preferred by the students. This objective was achieved by running an ANOVA to test the difference in the means of the scores. The participating students awarded the scores to the teaching method. From the ANOVA table, the observed F-value was 1.5426 whereas the critical F value was 2.266. The results produced a p-value of 0.179. Given that the data was tested at 95% level of significance, the study found that the p-value was greater than 0.05 which is alpha (α). As a result, the null hypothesis was accepted. Therefore, there is no single preferred method of teaching language. Instead, every student had his or her preferred method that they would like the teachers to be using.

Having known that the students do not give preference to a single language teaching method, the next task of this study was to determine the method that was most liked by the students. The study first reviewed the list of the language teaching methodologies that the students listed. The interest was to see if the knowledge about a method was influential in determining the methodology the student liked. However, the study found that the knowledge about the language teaching methodology had no influence on the method the student preferred. For example, there is a student who listed Suggestopedia and structural approach but preferred grammar translation the most.

As already mentioned, the study only chose six of the commonly applied methodologies. Among the six language teaching methodologies that the survey presented to the students, grammar translation was the most preferred. Surprisingly, direct method was the least preferred language teaching methodology. Grammar translation received the highest score totaling to 127 points while direct method received a total of 104 points. Audio-lingualism, humanistic approach, communicative language teaching and principled eclecticism had total scores of 108, 119, 114 and 118 points respectively.

Even though my research was not interested in knowing the preferences by gender, age or race, the results I obtained inspired me to see how the outcome would be if they were grouped by age, gender, and race. The results did not have any significant difference. For example, there was no significant change when comparing the scores for the teaching methods for male alone and female alone. Fifteen male participants did not have a specific teaching method of preference. However, majority of them seem to like grammar translation. The other half of the participants were female. However, unlike their male counterparts, the female respondents appear to give more preference to humanistic approach.

The majority of my respondents were whites who formed 40% of the sample size. This was indeed a good representation as it reflected the proportion of the population in the college. The study did not find any variation depending on the race which is an indication that there was no association between one’s race and the preference for a particular teaching method. The majority of the respondents were 23 years old with the oldest being 35 years and the youngest being 18 years. The results indicate that the there is no preferred method for a people of a given age.

Conclusion

I had hoped that communicative language teaching would be the most liked language teaching method. However, the study proved that I was totally wrong. However, my hypothesis that there is no particular language teaching method that all students would love better than other methods was right. As such, the language teachers can apply any method as they deem fitting the goals of the lesson. The students were also found to be aware of other methods other than the six methods that the study proposed. The most like method among the proposed six was grammar translation while the least liked was direct method. As a result, this study advises that if there is an option of choosing between grammar translation and another method, the teacher should go for grammar translation.

However, whoever, uses this study should be wary of the following limitations. The scores that the students allotted to the six study does not indicate the students' ultimate preference as some teaching methodologies were not included for rating. For instance, it could be possible that the student prefers suggestopedia, but for the reason that Suggestopedia was not among the six, he or she chooses an alternative method as his or her preferred. Another limitation is that the snowball sampling technique that the study used may not have produced a random sampling hence the results may be skewed. This study, therefore, suggests that future researchers should use other unbiased sampling methods such as simple random sampling. Moreover, this article recommends further studies on the topic by factoring the effect of the demographic factors such as age, race, and gender.

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