Is your school or teacher thinking like what you see in this picture, using broken techniques? Remember, nothing in this picture works anymore? People should know more now.

The Historical Background (ii)

In the previous post, we were talking about the 1960s and 70s – a long time ago – when all the language teaching was based on an approach known as ‘grammar-translation’. And it didn’t work well at all, but it didn’t matter to anyone at the time.

The trouble was, in the 1970s and 1980s, globalisation become a dominant force in the world. Europe adopted a common-market economy, people began migrating more to other countries, and organisations became more global. Thus, learning languages steadily become more important. It became so important that it became a field of research. Linguists and teachers all began questioning why no one was actually learning much. It was no longer good enough to just go through the motions, and pretend it was working. The simple fact was that it didn’t work well at all.

You can probably see what I’m suggesting here. The ‘old’ grammar-translation method from long ago can often live on in parts of Asia – in fact, it sometimes feels like a time-warp here in Taiwan – just like the picture above. Here, you can step back in time 50 years to the situation which my parent faced – a situation of cobwebs, ancient techniques, and old-dated thinking. They do things which were discredited ages ago; things which are inexcusable in the classroom (e.g. ‘We’ll teach you how to sound British’). Many school, teachers, and organisation are stuck in the distant history, using a thinking pattern from the lo-ooooong past – so long it’s almost embarrassing, but that’s the way it happens in Taiwan. This leads to the big question.

Why is it like this?

Well, I will explain the answer to this question in a later post [but here are two clues: ask yourself: (1) what’s the most important thing to these schools: helping you, or making money? and (2) How much money are these schools and teachers making by keeping things the way they are?].

So, it’s time to think for a moment. Does the grammar-translation-memorisation ‘teaching’ I described in the previous posts sound exactly like what you face in the classroom when you study for IELTS? If so, you definitely should read on.

The next post will continue with this historical background.

Now, check that you know the meaning of the underlined vocabulary (also repeated below).

  • an approach (n)
  • to migrate (v)
  • to go through the motions (v)
  • a time warp (n)
  • cobweb (n)
  • to be discredited (adj)
  • to be inexcusable (adj)
  • a clue (n)

If you want to find out more about me, go to aisielts.com .

4 of 50 modern language teaching clt taiwan what you need to know about it historical background ii