The Direct Method
The Direct Method (DM) emerged in the 1890s largely as a response to the perceived inability of the Grammar-Translation Method to teach learners to genuinely communicate. The argument was that the Grammar-Translation Method taught learners about the target language but not how to speak the target-language. In DM, there is no translation. In fact mother-tongue is expressly forbidden, and all communication is directly in the target language. Vocabulary is explained through visual aids and miming. Listening and speaking skills are given priority, though reading and writing play their part. Grammar is deduced rather than instilled.
Typical features of a DM lesson:
- target language
- teacher explains new vocab through pictures, realia or miming
- Students are encouraged to speak in the target language in "real" contexts (eg at the doctor's or going shopping) or about "real" topics (eg sport or money).
- Students are not taught grammar explicitly — they encounter examples and are asked to deduce the rule.
- Vocabulary is practised by using new words in context.