The Audio - Lingual Method by Jack & Rogers

            The Audio-Lingual Method, like the Direct Method we examined, has a goal very different from that of the Grammar-Translation Method[1]. The Audio-Lingual Method was developed in the United States during World War II. At that time there was a need for people to learn foreign languages rapidly for military purposes.
            As we have seen, the Grammar-Translation Method did not prepare people to use the target language. While communication in the target language was the goal of the Direct Method, there were at the time exciting new ideas about language and learning emanating(produce or show) from the disciplines of descriptive linguistics and behavioral psychology. These ideas led to the development of the Audio-Lingual Method.
            Some of the principles are similar to those of the Direct Method, but many are different, having been based upon conceptions of language and learning from these two disciplines.
Theory of language[2]
            The theory of language underlying Audiolingualism was derived from a view proposed by American linguists in the 1950s - a view that came to be known as structural linguistics. Linguistics had emerged as a flour­ishing academic discipline in the 1950s, and the structural theory of language constituted its backbone. Structural linguistics had developed in part as a reaction to traditional grammar.
            Many nineteenth-century language scholars had viewed modern European lan­guages as corruptions of classical grammar, and languages from other parts of the world were viewed as primitive and underdeveloped.
         By the 1930s, the scientific approach to the study of language was thought to consist of collecting examples of what speakers said and analyzing them ac­cording to different levels of structural organization rather than ac­cording to categories of Latin grammar.
In 1961 the American linguist William Moulton, in a report prepared for the 9th International Congress of Linguists, proclaimed the linguistic principles on which language teaching methodology should be based:
·         Language is speech, not writing.
·         Language is a set of habits.       
·         Teach the language, not about the language.           
·         Language is what its native speakers say, not what someone thinks they ought to say....  .
·         Languages are different (quoted in Rivers 1964: 5).
         But a method cannot be based simply on a theory of language. It also needs to refer to the psychology of learning and to learning theory. It is to this aspect of Audiolingualism that we now turn.

Principles of the Audio-Lingual Method
  • The native language and the target language have separate linguistic systems. They should be kept apart so that the students' native language interferes as little as pos­sible with the students' attempts to acquire the target language. (The language teacher uses only the target language in the classroom. Actions, pictures, or realia are used to give meaning otherwise).
  • One of the language teacher's major roles is that of a model of the target language. Teachers should provide students with a native-speaker-like model. By listening to how it is supposed to sound, students should be able to mimic the model(The  language  teacher  in­troduces the dialogue by modeling it two times; she introduces the drills by modeling the correct answers; at other times, she cor­rects mispronunciation by model­ing the proper sounds in the target language).
  • Language learning is a process of habit formation. The more often something is repeated, the stronger the habit and the greater the learning (The students repeat each line of the new dialogue several times).
  • The purpose of language learning  is to learn how to use the language to communicate (The teacher initiates a chain drill in which each student greets another).
  • Particular parts of speech occupy particular "slots" in sentences. In order to create new sentences, students must learn which part of speech occupies which slot(The teacher uses single-slot and multiple-slot substitution drills).
§ Positive reinforcement helps the students to develop correct habits(The   teacher   says,   "Very good," when the students answer correctly).
§ The major objective of language students should learn to respond to both verbal and nonverbal stimuli (The teacher uses spoken cues and picture cues).
§ Each language has a finite number of patterns. Pattern practice helps
to form habits which enable the students to use the patterns (The    teacher    conducts    transformation and question-and-answer drills).
§ Students should "over learn," i.e., learn  to  answer  automatically without stopping to think (When the students can do it, the teacher poses the questions to them rapidly).
§ The teacher should be like an orchestra    leader-conducting, guiding,   and   controlling   the students' behavior in the target language (The  teacher provides the students with cues; she calls on individuals; she smiles encouragement; she holds up pictures one after  another).
§  The major objective of language teaching should be for students to
acquire the structural patterns; students  will  learn vocabulary afterward(New  vocabulary  is  introduced through lines of the dialogue; vocabulary is limited).
§  It is important to prevent learners from making errors. Errors lead to the formation of bad habits. When errors do occur, they should be im­mediately corrected by the teacher (The students stumble over one of the lines of the dialog. The teacher uses a backward build-up drill with this line).
  • The learning of a foreign languages should be the same as the acquisition of the native language. We do not need to memorize rules in order to use our native language. The rules necessary to use the target language will be figured out or induced from examples (Students are given no grammar rules; grammatical points are taught through examples and drills).
  • The major challenge of foreign language teaching is getting students to overcome the habits of their native language. A com­parison between the native and target language will tell the teacher in what areas her students will probably experience difficulty(The teacher does a contrastive analysis of the target language and the students' native language in order to locate the places where she anticipates her students will have trouble).
  • Speech is more basic to language than the written form. The "natural order"- the order chil­dren follow when learning their native language - of skill acquisi­tion is: listening, speaking, reading, and writing (The teacher writes the dialogue    on the blackboard toward the end of the week. The students do some limited written work with the dialogue).
  • Language cannot be separated from culture. Culture is not only literature and the arts, but also the everyday behavior of the people who use the target language. One of the teacher's responsibilities is to present information about that culture.

Reviewing the Principles
1.    What are the goals of teachers who use the Audio-Lingual Method?
Teachers 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.
2.   What is the role of the teacher? What is the role of the students?
The teacher is like an orchestra leader, directing and controlling the language behavior of her students. She also is responsible for pro­viding her students with a good model for imitation.
Students are imitators of the teacher's model or the tapes she supplies of model speakers. They follow the teacher's directions and respond as accurately and as rapidly as possible.
3.   What are some characteristics of the teaching/learning process?
New vocabulary and structures are presented through dialogs. The dialogs are learned through imitation and repetition. Drills (such as repetition, backward build-up, chain, substitution, transformation, and question-and-answer) are conducted based upon the patterns pre­sent in the dialog. Students' successful responses are positively rein­forced. Grammar is induced from the examples given; explicit grammar rules are not provided. Cultural information is contextualized in the dialogs or presented by the teacher. Students' reading and written work is based upon the oral work they did earlier.
4.    What is the nature of student-teacher interaction? What is the nature of student-student interaction?
There is student-to-student interaction in chain drills or when students take different roles in dialogs, but this interaction is teacher-directed. Most of the interaction is between teacher and students and is initiated by the teacher.
5.    How are the feelings of the students dealt with?
There are no principles of the method that relate to this area.
6.    How is language viewed? How is culture viewed?
The view of language in the Audio-Lingual Method has been influenced by descriptive linguists. Every language is seen as having its own unique system. The system is comprised of several different levels: phonological, morphological, and syntactic. Each level has its own distinctive patterns.
Everyday speech is emphasized in the Audio-Lingual Method. "The level of complexity of the speech is graded, however, so that begin­ning students are presented with only simple forms. Culture consists of the everyday behavior and lifestyle of the target language speakers.
7. What areas of language are emphasized? What language skills are emphasized?
The structures of the language are emphasized over all the other areas. The syllabus is typically a structural one, with the structures for any particular unit included in the new dialog. Vocabulary is also contextualized within the dialogue. It is, however, limited since the em­phasis is placed on the acquisition of the patterns of the language.
The natural order of skills presentation is adhered to (to stick to): listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The oral/aural skills receive most of the attention. Pronunciation is taught from the beginning, often by students working in language laboratories on discriminating between members of minimal pairs.
8.    What is the role of the students' native language?
The habits of the students' native language are thought to in­terfere with the students' attempts to master the target language. Therefore, the target language is used in the classroom, not the students' native language. A contrastive analysis between the students' native language and the target language will reveal where a teacher should expect the most interference.
9.    How is evaluation accomplished?
              Each question on the test would focus on only one point of the language at a time. Students might be asked to distinguish between words in a minimal pair, for example, or to supply an appropriate verb form in a sentence.
10. How does the teacher respond to student errors?
Student errors are to be avoided if at all possible through the teacher's awareness of where the students will have difficulty and restric­tion of what they are taught to say.
P.s.-In advocating these principles, proponents of Audio- lingualism were drawing on the theory of a well-developed school of American psy­chology-behaviorism. The prominent Harvard behaviorist B. F. Skinner had elaborated a theory of learning applicable to language learning in; his influential book Verbal Behavior, in which he stated, "We have no reason to assume.,. that verbal behavior differs in any fun­damental respect from non-verbal behavior, or that any new principles must be invoked to account for it".
Reviewing the Techniques
Dialogue Memorization
            Dialogues or short conversations between two people are often used to begin a new lesson. Students memorize the dialogue through mimicry; students usually take the role of one person in the dialogue, and the teacher the other. After the students have learned the one person's lines, they switch roles and memorize the other person's part.
            Another way of practicing the two roles is for half of the class to take one role and the other half to take the other. After the dialogue has been memorized, pairs of individual students might perform the dialog for the rest of the class.
In the Audio-Lingual Method, certain sentence patterns and grammar points are included within the dialogue. These patterns and points are later practiced in drills based on the lines of the dialogue.
Backward Build-up (Expansion) Drill
               This drill is used when a long line of a dialogue is giving students trouble. The teacher breaks down the line into several parts. The students repeat a part of the sentence, usually the last phrase of the line. Then, follow­ing the teacher's cue, the students expand what they are repeating part by part until they are able to repeat the entire line.
           The teacher begins with the part at the end of the sentence (and works backward from there) to keep the intonation of the line as natural as possible. This also directs more student attention to the end of the sentence, where new information typically occurs.
Repetition Drill
           Students are asked to repeat the teacher's model as accurately and as quickly as possible. This drill is often used to teach the lines of the dialogue.
Chain Drill
            A chain drill gets its name from the chain of conversation that forms around the room as students, one-by-one, ask and answer questions of each other. The teacher begins the chain by greeting a particular student, or asking him a question. That student responds, then turns to the student sitting next to him. The first student greets or asks a question of the second student and the chain continues.
            A chain drill allows some controlled communication, even though it is limited.
            A chain drill also gives the teacher an opportunity to check each student's speech.
Single-slot Substitution Drill
            The teacher says a line, usually from the dialogue. Next, the teacher says a word or a phrase-called the cue. The students repeat the line the teacher has given them, substituting the cue into the line in its proper place.
            The major purpose of this drill is to give the students practice in finding and filling in the slots of a sentence.
Multiple-slot Substitution Drill
            This drill is similar to the single-slot substitution drill. The difference is that the teacher gives cue phrases, one at a time, that fit into different slots in the dialog line. The students must recognize what part of speech each cue is, where it fits into the sentence, and make any other changes, such as subject-verb agreement.
Transformation Drill
           The teacher gives students a certain kind of sentence, an affirmative sentence for example. Students are asked to transform this sentence into a negative sentence.
           Other examples of transformations are also used (in changing a statement into a question, an active sentence into a passive one, or direct speech into reported speech).
Question-and-answer Drill
           This drill gives students practice with answering questions. The students should answer the teacher's questions very quickly. It is also possible for the teacher to cue the students to ask questions as well. This gives students prac­tice with the question pattern.
Use of Minimal Pairs
            The teacher works with pairs of words which differ in only one sound; for example, "ship/sheep." Students are first asked to perceive the difference between the two words and later to be able to say the two words. The teacher selects the sounds to work on after she has done a contrastive analysis, a comparison between the students' native language and the language they are studying.
Complete the Dialogue
               Selected words are erased from a dialogue students have learned. Students complete the dialogue by filling in the blanks with the missing words.
Grammar Game
            Games like the supermarket alphabet game described in this chapter are often used in the Audio-Lingual Method. The games are designed to get students to practice a grammar point within a context. Students are able to express themselves.
                Notice there is also a lot of repetition in the game too.

 Types of Learning and Teaching activities
           Dialogues and drills form the basis of audiolingual classroom practices. Dialogues provide the means of contextualizing key structures and il­lustrate situations in which structures might be used as well as some cultural aspects of the target language.             Dialogues are used for repetition and memorization. Correct pronunciation, stress, rhythm, and intona­tion are emphasized. After a dialogue has been presented and memorized, specific grammatical patterns in the dialogue are selected and become the focus of various kinds of drill and pattern-practice exercises.
         The use of drills and pattern practice is a distinctive feature of the Audiolingual Method. Various kinds of drills are used. Brooks (1964: 156—61) includes the following:
    The student repeats an utterance  aloud as soon as he has heard it. He does this without looking at a printed text. The utterance  must be brief enough to be retained by the ear. Sound is as important as  form and order.
This is the seventh month. -This is the seventh month.
After a student has repeated an utterance, he may repeat it again and add a few words, then repeat that whole utterance and add more words.
I used to know him.-I used to know him.
I used to know him years ago. - I used to know him years ago when we were in school.
 One word in an utterance appears in another form when repeated.
I bought the ticket.- I bought the tickets.
He bought die candy.- She bought the candy.
I called die young man.- I called the young men    
One word in an utterance is replaced by another.          
He bought this house cheap. - he bought it  cheap.          
Helen left early. – She left early.                             
They gave their boss a watch. -They gave him  a watch.
            The student rephrases an utterance and addresses it to someone else, according to instructions.
Tell him to wait for you. - Wait for me.
Ask her how old she is. - How old are you?
Ask John when he began. - John, when did you begin?.
          The student hears an utterance that is complete except for one word, then repeats the utterance in completed form.
I'll go my way and you go… - I'll go my way and you go yours.
We all have ... own troubles. - We all have our own troubles.      
 A change in word order is necessary when a word is added.
I'm hungry, (so). - So am I.
I'll never do it again, (neither). - Neither will  I.         
 When a word is added it takes a certain place in the sequence.   
I know him. (hardly).- I hardly know him.  
I know him. (well). - I know him well…
A single word stands for a phrase or clause.
Put your hand on the table. - Put your hand there. They believe that the earth is flat.- They believe it....
 A sentence is transformed by being made negative or in­terrogative or through changes in tense, mood, voice, aspect, or modality.                           
He knows my address.
He doesn't know my address.
   Does he know my address?
He used to know my address.
If he had known my address.          
      Two separate utterances are integrated into one.
They must be honest. This is important.. - It is important that they be honest.
 The student makes an appropriate rejoinder to a given utterance. He is told in advance to respond in one of the following ways;
Be polite.
Answer the question.                  
Agree emphatically.                                    
Express surprise.                                            
Express regret.
Disagree emphatically. Question what is said.  Fail to understand.
    Be polite.     Examples                           
Thank you.- You're welcome.            
May I take one? - Certainly.           
 Answer the questions.    Examples.
What is your name? - My name is  Smith;          
Where did it happen? - In the middle of the street.
 The student is given a sequence of words that have been
cut from a sentence but still bear its basic meaning. He uses these
words with a minimum of changes and additions to restore the sentence
to its original form. He may be told whether the time is present, past, or
students/waiting/bus - The students are waiting for the bus.
boys/build/house/street - The boys built a house in a street.       

Teacher's  Role
            In Audiolingualism, as in Situational Language Teaching, the teacher's role is central and active; it is a teacher-dominated method. The teacher models the target language, controls the direction and pace of learning, and monitors and corrects the learners' performance. The teacher must keep the learners attentive by varying drills and tasks and choosing relevant situations to practice structures. Language learning is seen to result from active verbal interaction between the teacher and the learners.
         Model the various types of language behavior that the student is to learn:
  • Teach spoken language in dialogue form.
  • Direct choral response by all or parts of the class.
  • Teach the use of structure through pattern practice.   
  • Guide the student in choosing and learning vocabulary.
  • Show how words relate to meaning in the target language.
  • Get the individual student to talk.
  • Reward trials by the student in such a way that learning is reinforced.
  • Teach a short story and other literary forms.      
  • Establish and maintain a cultural island.
  • Formalize on the first day the rules according to which the language class is
  • to be conducted, and enforce them.[3]
The Role of Instructional Materials
           Instructional materials in the Audiolingual Method assist the teacher to develop language mastery in the learner. They are primarily teacher oriented. A student textbook is often not used in the elementary phases of a course where students are primarily listening, repeating, and re­sponding. At this stage in learning, exposure to the printed word may not be considered desirable, because it distracts attention from the aural input.      The teacher, however, will have access to a teacher's book that contains the structured sequence of lessons to be followed and the dia­logues, drills, and other practice activities. When textbooks and printed materials are introduced to the student, they provide the texts of dia­logues and cues needed for drills and exercises.
      Tape recorders and audiovisual equipment often have central roles in an audiolingual course. If the teacher is not a native speaker of the target language, the tape recorder provides accurate models for dialogues and drills. A language laboratory may also be considered essential. It provides the opportunity for further drill work and to receive controlled error-free practice of basic structures. It also adds variety by providing an alternative to classroom practice.
           A taped lesson may first present a dialogue for listening practice, allow for the student to repeat the sen­tences in the dialogue line by line, and provide follow-up fluency drills on grammar or pronunciation.
In a typical audiolingual lesson the following procedures would be observed:
1.            Students first hear a model dialogue (either read by the teacher or on the tape) containing the key structures that are the focus of the lesson. They repeat each line of the dialogue, individually and in chorus. The teacher pays attention to pronunciation, intonation, and fluency. Correction of mistakes of pronunciation or grammar is direct and immediate. The dia­logue is memorized gradually, line by line. A line may be broken down into several phrases if necessary. The dialogue is read aloud in chorus, one half saying one speaker's part and the other half responding. The students do not consult their book throughout this phase.
2.      The dialogue is adapted to the students' interest or situation, through
changing certain key .words or phrases. This is acted out by the students.
3.  Certain key structures from the dialogue are selected and used as the basis
for pattern drills of different kinds. These are first practiced in chorus and then individually. Some grammatical explanation may be offered at this point, but this is kept to an absolute minimum.
4; The students may refer to their textbook, and follow-up reading, writing, or vocabulary activities based on the dialogue may be introduced. At the beginning level, writing is purely imitative and consists of little more than copying out sentences that have been practiced.  As proficiency increases, students may write out variations of structural items they have practiced or write short compositions on given topics with the help of framing ques­tions, which will guide their use of the language.
5. Follow-up activities may take place in the language laboratory, where fur­ther dialogue and drill work is carried out.

The Decline of Audiolingualism
            Audiolingualism reached its period of most widespread use in the 1960s
and was applied both to the teaching of foreign languages in the United
States and to the teaching of English as a second or foreign language.
          On the one hand, the theoretical foun­dations of Audiolingualism were attacked as eing unsound both in terms of language theory and learning theory. On the other, practitioners foundthat the practical results fell short of expectations. Students were often found to be unable to transfer skills acquired through Audiolingualism to real communication outside the classroom, and many found the. experi­ence of studying through audiolingual procedures to be boring and unsatisfying.
                The theoretical attack on audiolingual beliefs resulted from changes in American linguistic theory in the sixties. The MIT linguist N. Chom­sky rejected the structuralist approach to language description as well as the behaviorist theory of language learning. "Language is not a habit structure. Ordinary linguistic behavior characteristically involves inno­vation, formation of new sentences and patterns in accordance with rules of great abstractness and intricacy" (Chomsky 1966: 153). Chomsky's theory of transformational grammar proposed that, the fundamental properties of language derive from innate aspects of the mind and from how humans process experience through language. His theories were to revolutionize American linguistics and focus the attention of linguists and psychologists on the mental properties people bring to bear on language use and language learning. Chomsky also proposed an alternative theory of language learning to that of the behaviorists. Behaviorism regarded language learning as similar in principle to any other kind of learning. It was subject to the same laws of stimulus and response, reinforcement and association. Chomsky argued that such a learning theory could not pos­sibly serve as a model of how humans learn language, since much of hu­man language use is not imitated behavior but is created anew from underlying knowledge of abstract rules. Sentences are not learned by im­itation and repetition but "generated" from the learner's underlying "competence."
            Practice activities should involve meaningful learning and language use. Learners should be encouraged to use their innate and creative abilities to make explicit underlying the grammatical rules of the language. For a time in the early seventies there was a considerable interest in the implication of the cognitive-code theory for language caching (e.g., see Jakobovits 1970; Lugton 1971). But no clear-cut methodological guidelines emerged, nor did any particular method incorporating this view of learning. The term cognitive code is still some­times invoked to refer to any conscious attempt to organize materials around a grammatical syllabus while allowing for meaningful practice and use of language. The lack of an alternative to Audiolingualism in language teaching in the United States has led to a period of adaptation, innovation, experimentation, and some confusion.
            On the one hand there are few methods that have been developed independently of current linguistic and second language acquisition theory (e.g., Total Physical Response, Silent Way, Counseling-Learning); on the other there are competing approaches that are derived from contemporary theories of language and second language acquisition (e.g., The Natural Ap­proach, Communicative Language Teaching).         These developments will be considered in the remaining chapters of my lectures.

[1] Dianne Larsen -Freeman, Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching, Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 31-51
[2] J. C. Richard and Theodore S. Rodgers, Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching Cambridge University Press, 1997, p.48-61.

[3] Brooks N., 1964, Language and Language Learning: Theory and Practice, 2nd ed., New York, Holt, p. 111