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Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics

Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics

In language acquisition, children acquire languages without formal teaching. Additional languages can also be ‘picked up’, for example Romans acquiring Greek from Greek speaking slaves.

In terms of social requirement, written language was taught for priesthood in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The classical Greece of Homeric legends was translated from the oral form to the written form in 8th century BC. In the age of Pericles (5th century BC), the language teaching was intended to fulfil the specialist language skills for (a). appreciating great literary texts, (b). acquiring oratorical skills for the service of the state. Plato and Aristotle designed curriculum beginning with ‘good writing (grammar) and moving on to effective discourse (rhetoric) culminating’ in the development of the dialectic to promote a philosophical approach to life.

In Alexandria period (4th century BC), the grammatical analyis in the modern sense began with the ‘Dionysis Thrax’ including the 8 parts of speech: noun, verb, particle, article, pronoun, preposition, adverb, and conjunction. (see Robin, 1951: 39-40). The focus is on phonology and morphology. Meanwhile, the teaching language in Roman period was bilingual in which the Latin standed as the mother tongue and Greek as the language culture. (2nd century BC). Started from Varro (116-27 BC) De Lingua Italiana, Cocero (106-43BC) De Oratore, Quintillian (35-100 AD) De Institutione Orataria, the basic literary was both in Greek and Latin. Letters learnt (phonetic value) was studied from the syllables into words. Then, arranged the words according to the grammar (Latin and Greek) as preparation for the study of poets, and finally reached the rhetoric level as a practical eloquence for public debate and persuasion.

Medieval period (400-1000 AD) was the period in which Latin kept alive by the Church. Teaching process in this period involved: (a) orthography (letters and their pronunciation), (b) prosody (syllable and versification), (c) accidence (words), and (d) syntax (clauses and sentences).

In latter middle ages (1200-1500), Latin and French became dominant languages. Further, the odern period was marked by thr raise of modern European languages indicating by the translation of Bible into vernaculars, the Caxton’s Printing Press in 1480, the publication of polyglot dictionaries, and the dialogue manuals began to be circulated. For learning of a foreign language, some books were published such as The French Schoolmaster (Claudius Holybrand, 1573), and The English Schoolaster (Jacques Bellot, 1580). In that time, there was a growing market of foreign languages.

In modern time, the new approach series of small steps arranged in a logically graded sequence. Following it, the introduction of new vocabulary in restricted amounts and practiced each step throughly in specially written sentences for translation. Pioneering work of J.V. Meidinger’s Praktische Franzasische Grammatik (later is calles the Grammar Translation Method (GTM)) in 1783 was already published in 15 edition by 1799. Franz Ahn A New Practical and Easy Method of Learning (1834) and H.G. Ollendorf A New Method of Learning to Read, then Write and Speak a Language in Six Months in 1835 followed the GTM. Aping the methods of the classicists by elaborate display of rule making, long list of obscure ‘exception’ with a heavy emphasis on literary texts and pseudo-conversational format. This led to the neglect of spoken language. However, it made the study of modern languages also look as intellectually stimulating. Hence, Cambrage University introduced modern language in 1886 and the Oxford Honours school in 1903.

As a reaction to Grammar Translation Method (GTM) and under the influence of Phonetics (Sweet, 1877, 1899 and Jesperson, 1904), the reform movement began. G.B. Shaw dedicated Pygmalion to Henry Sweet In 1886, Paul Passy formed the Phonetics Teachers Association that became the International Phonetic Association (IPA) in 1897. This method of teaching was marked by the primacy of spoken language with the help of phonetically transcribed texts. The use of isolated sentences was replaced by coherent texts and the foreign language came to be used in class. In this time, people began to use phonetics in language teaching.

The above method in a modified form also came to be known as the Direct Method. Here, the teacher’s task was to create the foreign language environment in the classroom. Efford in the classroom was to bring about a direct association between words and meaning (by direct reference to objects). However, there was no connected text was used, only conversation-simple to complex.

The reform of English language teaching in UK was under the influence of Daniel Jones (1917), Palmer (1921), and Michael West (Inspector of school Bengal). The work got interrupted in World War II. A.S. Hornby edited the first volume of the journal called English Language Teaching in 1946. His dictionary The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English was published in 1948. His pedagogical grammar identifying the basic pattern and structures for a teaching syllabus course were attempted in Oxford Progressive English for Adult Learners (1954). English Language Teaching (ELT) was firmly established as an autonomous branch of language education by the work of Palmer, West, and Hornby.

Work on language teaching also was done in the USA though in the tradition of Sapir and Blommfield. Language teaching in a large-scale way came up with ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program) that used the informant techniques of Bloomfield (1942). The method utilized dialogue memorization , patterned drills and other ‘habit’ formation exercises. This method was called ‘applied linguistics’ by 1948 when Language Learning – A Quarterly Journal of Applied Linguistics was published. Charles C. Fries established 3 months courses at his English Language Institute (ELI). His successor at ELI was Robert Lado.

New technology adopted which name was Language Laboratory., and then relabeled as the Audio-Lingual Approach after Chomsky’s Transformational Grammar paradigm upgraded in the 1960’s as the Audio-Visual Approach.

Interest in language teaching once again reawakened in the 1970’s and 1980’s with the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) based on the concept of ‘comunicative competence’ as forulated by Dell Hymes. This approach further led to the development of Language for Specific Purpose.

By now, many more approaches like natural approach, total physical response, suggestopedia, etc. are on the scene which are influenced both by the communicative approach to language teaching and by the ‘second language acquisition’ paradigm of Krashen (1981).


Bloomfield, L. 1942. An Outline for the Practical Study of Foreign Languages.

Jesperson, O. 1904. How to Teach A Foreign Language.

Jones, D. 1971. The Scientific Study and Teaching of Languages.

Jones, D. 1971. English PronouncingDictionary.

Krashen, S.D. 1981. Second Language Acquisition and Language Learning.

Palmer, H. 1921. The Principles of Language Teaching.

Robins, R.H. 1951. Ancient and Modern Grammatical Theory in Europe. London: Bill

Sweet, H. 1877. Handbook of Phonetics.

Sweet, H. 1899. Practical Study of Languages.


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At 1:58 AM, Blogger M. said...

You are incorrect on Ahn and Ollendorff.
They do not follow the GMT, but immersion methods.
Ollendorff's method is aimed at the user acquiring spoken proficiency, and is very light on grammar.
I refer you to my article here:

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