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What is a language learning method?



A language learning method is an overall plan for learning a second language, based on the theoretical approach selected. It involves the design of a syllabus for the course, which in turn consists of learning objectives and techniques for achieving those objectives.


There is often confusion among the terms,approach , method, and technique. These three terms may be viewed as points along a continuum from the theoretical (approach), in which basic beliefs about language and learning are considered, to design (method) in which a practical plan for teaching (or learning) a language is considered, to the details (technique) where the actual learning activity takes place.


Some language learning courses use basically only one technique. These courses could be said to be based on methods such as the Language Learning Cycle, Total Physical Response, or Suggestopedia. More commonly these days a variety of techniques are combined, so the term method is not used in the same sense. Furthermore, some people use the term method interchangeably with technique.


The following are examples of language learning methods:

  • The Language Learning Cycle
  • Total Physical Response
  • Suggestopedia
  • Counseling Learning
  • Direct Method

Edward Anthony, cited in Brown 1994 (p. 158) and Richards and Rodgers 1986 (pp. 15-16)

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Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 3.5, published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 1999. [Ordering information.]

Page content last modified: 12 April 1999

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