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How we got to where we are in the world of teaching the English language

2/18/2013 10:56:54 AM | by Anonymous

English Language School

Ever since the advent of the Grammar - Translation method documented by German-American anthropologist Franz Boas and the Danish linguist Otto Jespersen during the early 20th century the art of teaching the English language, learning methodology and didactic approaches have been in a state of flux. Each and every one of these has directly contributed to the way that we now view and approach this particular art form today.


More or less once every decade a new methodology or approach becomes popular, the direct and audio-lingual methods, Neuro-linguistic programming and the natural and communicative approaches have all had their moment in the spot light. With the rise of Computer-Aided Language Learning came the very real question of whether or not there was still a need for actual human teachers at all.


This new technological advancement encouraged people to want to “get plugged in” and attempt to learn everything instantly or at least much quicker than what was previously considered acceptable.


Over many generations ever widening facets of language and learning have been introduced to our world with many, many theorists, researchers, linguists, educational psychologists and a multitude of teachers have contributed to our knowledge and understanding of the language teaching and learning processes. A few of the many events, major theories and trends which have shaped this art form during past decades are listed below…


  • Howard Gardner's very interesting Theory of Multiple Intelligences paved the way for a much wider diversity of activities focused on the students themselves and their innate skills, preferences and abilities.
  • Psychologist Roger Sperry contributed the theory of Dual Psychology which explains our two innate brains.
  • Paul MacLean's Triune brain model postulated the three layers of depth to our thinking and actions.
  • Stephen Krashen provided five hypotheses to deepen our insight into language acquisition and learning.
  • Hermann's Brain Dominance Model allowed for the improved understanding of how personality characteristics, learning styles and language learning integrate.
  • Student-centred teaching and learning-based courses, texts and programs developed at an increased rate.


As we have said these are just a few of the many contributions that have been made in these fields and every one of them has, in some way, greatly contributed to our understanding of, and the development of, applications for the use of English as a foreign or second language.


While taking into account all of the above major theories, events and trends which have shaped the way that we teach the English language to both national and international students it is worth remembering that the inventors of these and their kind are not the only things that have shaped or are shaping the way that teachers, students and the English language itself evolves.


If you are interested in the on-going evolution of the English or any other languages, the way in which they are used and taught and the many causes related to this very interesting social phenomena then you are in luck. Due to the ever increasing multi-cultural societies that we find ourselves living in today there are and will continue to be a vast array of ever changing subject matter on this topic. To see this evolution for yourself you do however not actually need to read or study it to appreciate its affects.


Some of the easiest ways to gain an understanding of this are, for most people, on a personal level. Try taking a look at some of your old school books and assays (if you are lucky enough to still have them.) Search through old letters that you have written in any format including text messages and emails or watch archive video footage of yourself and you will quite possibly see how your own use of language and communication style has changed over the years.


Author Bio: Rachel Bell is an English language expert working at St Giles International, an English language School with locations worldwide.

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