Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching

An approach is a way of looking at teaching and learning. Underlying any language teaching approach is a theoretical view of what language is, and how it can be learned. An approach gives rise to methods, the way of teaching something, which use classroom activities or techniques to help learners learn.

Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching

This is a video in which Jack C. Richards explains a little bit about approaches and methods in language teaching

Grammar Translation Method

Grammar translation method was the most popular and widely used method for language teaching between the ages of 1840 to 1940. 

This method was used for teaching and learning latin and it places a lot of emphasis on learning vocabulary and grammar.

Direct Method

The direct method was the outcome of the reaction against the grammar translation method.

Some of the characteristic of the implementation of this method was:

  1. Giving instructions exclusively in the target language.
  2. Grammar was taught inductively
  3. Teaching everyday vocabulary and sentences.

Oral Approach / Situational Language Teaching

The oral approach is a method in which children to use whatever hearing they get from their surroundings. They also take help from the context to understand and use language

Some of the characteristics of this approach are:

  1. Language teaching begins with spoken language.
  2. The target language is the language of the classroom.
  3. Language points are introduced and practiced based on situations.

Audiolingual Method

This approach to language learning was similar to another, earlier method called the direct method. 

Like the direct method, the audio-lingual method advised that students should be taught a language directly, without using the student’s native language to explain new words or grammar in the target language.

However, unlike the direct method, the audio-lingual method did not focus on teaching vocabulary. Rather, the teacher drilled students in the use of grammar.

Watch a video explanation of this approach in this Youtube Video

Communicative Language Teaching

Communicative language teaching was actually developed in opposition of the audiolingual method which focuses on drilling and memorization.

Communicative language teaching focuses on developing the ability to communicate in learners in real-life situations. It focuses on meaning rather than accuracy

Learn more about this approach with this video explanation

Total Physical Response

Total physical response (TPR) is a language teaching method developed by James Asher, a professor emeritus of psychology at San José State University.

It is based on the coordination of language and physical movement. In TPR, instructors give commands to students in the target language with body movements, and students respond with whole-body actions.

Learn more about the approach with this video explanation

Silent Way

The method emphasizes learner autonomy and active student participation. Silence is used as a tool to achieve this goal; the teacher uses a mixture of silence and gestures to focus students’ attention, to elicit responses from them, and to encourage them to correct their own errors

Learn more about this approach with this video explanation

Communicative Language Learning

The CLL emphasizes the sense of community in the learning group, encourages interaction as a vehicle for learning, and considers as a priority the students’ feelings and the recognition of struggles in language acquisition.

There is no syllabus or textbook to follow, and it is the students themselves who determine the content of the lesson by means of meaningful conversations in which they discuss real messages.

Learn more about this approach with this video explanation

The Natural Approach

This approach was influenced by Stephen Krashen’s theory of language acquisition. The natural approach focuses on communication as the major function of language. In this approach, language is considered as the vehicle or means of conveying a message and information. The natural approach was actually based on the observation and understanding of the acquisition of the first and the second language in informal settings

Learn more about this approach with this video


Suggestopedia is a teaching method that is based on a modern understanding of how the human brain works and how we learn most effectively.

Key Elements Some of the key elements of Suggestopedia include:

  • a rich sensory learning environment (pictures, color, music, etc.)
  • a positive expectation of success 
  • The use of a varied range of methods: dramatic texts, music, active participation in songs and games, etc.

Learn more about Suggestopedia with this video

The Communicative Approach

The communicative approach is based on the idea that learning a language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning.

When learners are involved in real communication, their natural strategies for language acquisition will be used, and this will allow them to learn to use the language.

Learn more about the Communicative Approach with this video

Manuel Campos, English Professor

Manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English