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Learning is defined as a deliberate, conscious attempt to master a language and it is usually related to second language. When we learn a second language, we learn it consciously, formally and in natural environment. The term of second language is refers to mean a language that is learned after the first language is established. The term second language may refers to our third, fourth or fifth language. Second language learning may be begun at any age, but the nature of learning will vary depends on the age of the learner.
I. Types of techniques in second language learning.
Learning a second language is very important because we can gain many benefits from it such as to get a better job, to gain more knowledge, to communicate and so on. A second language affects people¡¦s careers, theirs lives, their identities and future. Therefore, to successfully learn a second language, we must choose a suitable learning technique. The major techniques are known as The Grammar-Translation method, The Audiolingual method, The Direct Method, The Silent Way, Suggestopedia, Community Language Learning, The Total Physical Response method, The Communicative Approach and so on. Before I go on further, here are some descriptions of some major techniques in learning a second language
a) The Grammar Translation method.
This method emphasizes the study of grammatical rules of the target language using translation exercises and the instruction is given in the native language of the learners. The aim of this method is for learners to develop an ability to read prominent literary texts and to write in the target language accurately. However, this method does not give emphasis to speaking and listening skills.
b) The Audiolingual method
According to Yule, this method become popular in the 1950s and it involved a systematic presentation of the structures of the second language, moving from simple to the more complex, often in the form of drills. Besides that, this method is known as aural-oral method because it emphasis on speaking and listening skills. This method was developed due to the lack of speaking skills of The Grammar Translation method and it based on the principles of habit formation of behaviorist psychology. This method relies on the repetition and memorization of dialogues. Grammar is not taught through direct instruction but through the repetition of language patterns.
c) The Direct method
According to Larsen-Freeman, the direct method has one very basic rule that is no translation is allowed. This method was developed as a reaction against the grammar. It main features are using the target language in class and the learner should be actively involved in using that language.
d) The Silent Way
This method requires active participation of learners and they do most of the talking and interaction among themselves. All four skills such as listening, speaking, writing and reading are taught from the beginning. Learning is facilitated by problem solving involving the material to be learned.
The learning environment is relaxed with low lighting and soft music playing in the background and learners choose a name and character in the target language and imagine being that person. Learners relax and listen while dialogues are presented accompanied by music and later they practice the dialogue.
f) Community Language Learning
This method is somehow like Counseling-Learning theory in learning language. The teachers help to overcome their learner's fear of language learning by helping them to feel secure. Learners choose what they want to learn they generated the learning syllabus.
g) The Total Physical method
This method is based on the belief that learning comprehension should be fully developed before any active oral participation from learner is expected.
h) The Communicative Approach
This technique focuses on functional language usage and the learner ability to express their own ideas, feeling and so on. The activities include open-ended questioning, problem solving and exchanges of personal information are utilized as the primary means of communication.
II. What are the best techniques in learning a second language?
Although there are many effective techniques in learning a second language, but not all techniques are workable. Therefore, choosing a suitable technique or combination of techniques is very important in order to successfully learning a second language. In my opinion, I think the best choice is to combine Partial Immersion program with Audiolingual method.
III. Description of partial immersion program and Audiolingual method
According to O'Grady, Dobrovolsky and Katamba, immersion program is a very popular bilingual education involves immersing a majority language learner in a minority language class. Over the last decade immersion program have become increasingly popular as a way of teaching children a second language, especially for Spanish in the United States and French in Canada. In this context, immersion means that learners are taught most of their subjects in the second language and school activities are conducted in that language.
There are three types of immersion program such as total immersion, partial immersion and two-way immersion. Total immersion require all the subject are taught in the target language while two-way immersion involves instruction in two non-native languages. Partial immersion involves instruction in the second language for half of the school day and in the native language for the other half day. The aim of partial immersion program is to develop learners¡¦ communicative and proficiency in the second language.
"The Audiolingual Method is also referred to as "The Army Method", because it was developed through a U.S. Army program called ASTP, standing for "Army Specialized Training Program". In this method, oral interaction was emphasized in pattern drills, and conversation practices" (http//www.abacom.com/~nathan/audio.htm 08/04/001). The principles of this method are such as new material is presented in dialogue form, structural patterns are taught using repetitive drills, there is a little or no grammatical explanation and vocabulary is strictly limited to pronunciation. Besides that, there is much use of visual aids, tapes and language labs. This method also uses very little of mother tongue and there is great effort to get learners to produce error free utterances.
IV. The advantages of the Partial Immersion Program.
According to O¡¦Grady, Dobrovolsky and Katamba, immersion program is a very popular bilingual education involves immersing a majority language learner in a minority language class. Over the last decade immersion program have become increasingly popular as a way of teaching children a second language, especially for Spanish in the United States and French in Canada. There are many advantages in following partial immersion program in learning second language. According to Eric Digest, partial immersion needs fewer special teachers because one teacher can serve two immersion classes for one half day each. Besides that, the learners feel secure because they are able to understand more clearly when the teacher translates or explain in their native language. This was due to my own experience in learning Japanese, I feel secure and able to understand more clearly when my teacher provides translation in English. By using this method, the learners are not forced to speak in the second language and initially they can speak in their first language if they wish. As a result the learners will not easily feel nervous when answering the teacher questions because they are allow to answer in their first language if they are unable to answer it in the second language. Partial immersion is also suitable for all types of learners especially for adults because they have passed the critical period and so it is difficult for them to learn a second language. Therefore, the adults need extra explanation and time to learn a second language. I personally have that experience too because I feel it difficult to learn another language and I need more time to understand and memorize the Japanese vocabulary and grammar. Unlike the children, their acquisition of second language is natural and faster and therefore they are suitable for both total and partial immersion.
V. The advantages of Audiolingual method
The advantages of Audiolingual method are learners can learn by using visual aids and language labs. Tape material can also be used for learning comprehension work and about other activities such as dialogues, song and so on.
Besides that, the OHP is put in front the class and the teachers and learners can operates it without turning their back on the class. It also offers flexibility that comes from face-to-face interaction. Another advantages in using visual aids such as video is that the learners can watch the shows in second language and at the end the teacher can ask feedback from the learners and this may help to improve their skills in listening and speaking. In addition, the learners can film themselves as they act out the dialogues and later they can see and hear themselves speaking in that second language. By doing this, it can help the learners to get over the "nervousness barrier".
In addition, the advantage of Audiolingual is that it allows the learners to use language laboratory. The language laboratory is a modern learning tool and the learners can gain many benefits by using it. According to Haycraft (1811), a language laboratory is expensive to buy costly to run effectively. There are three types of language laboratory known as Listening Laboratory, Audio Active Laboratory (A.A.) and The Audio-Active-Comparative (A.A.C.). The advantage of Listening Laboratory is that each learner can work in their own speed because they has a tape recorder with a headset and they can listens to a tape and going back as often as they wish. This is the cheapest form of laboratory, it concentrates on the single skill of listening, and understanding which in the classroom is often underplayed.
The Audio Active Laboratory is function where there is a console and individual headset. A tape is played from the console, the learners listen, and when they speaks, they can hear their own voice through the headset. However, the learner cannot record their own voice and they have to go at the speed of the tape being played. The advantage is that the teacher can listen to the learner¡¦s voice and speak to them individually. By using this laboratory, the learners do have an idea of whether their answer was right or wrong and next time they can try to produce a better version. The effect is similar to a chorus drill where the learner can hear their own voice more clearly and the teacher can listen to them. Furthermore, this laboratory is cheaper and easier to maintain than the A.A.C.
The Audio-Active-Comperative is the most complex and expensive type of laboratory. It consists of a console that allows the teacher to listen and speak to learners in turn or alternatively to speaks to all of them together. In this laboratory, each learner is in a booth with separate tape recorder and earphones and they can control the tape recorder by themselves. The advantages of using this laboratory is that it allows the learners to work on their own, progress at their own speed and uses more of their time in speaking. It is also good for the shyer learner to express themselves more confidently in their booth than in front of the class.
According to Bowen, There are many advantages of using audio-visual method. Firstly, we use many different types of visual aids that other methods are rarely use. Secondly, by using visual aids it can encourage the learners to lift their eyes from their books, which makes it easier and more natural for one to speak to another. Besides that, visual aids allow the teacher to talk lesser by diminishing the importance of the verbal stimuli provided by the teacher voice and allow the learners to talk more. That means, this method requires active participation of the learners. In addition, the learners with a creative imagination will often find themselves learn a new language easily and enjoyable using visual aids. Visual aids can also make a communicative approach to language learning easier and more natural. It can also help to improve the learner¡¦s proficiency in the second language. Learning a second language with visual aids can help to attract the attention of the learners because it is more fun and interesting. Therefore, the learners will not easily get boring in learning a second language.
VI. The disadvantages of these techniques and ways to overcome.
Although there are many advantages of learning a second language by using partial immersion, however this technique or program still have some disadvantages. First, the learners failed to achieve native-like status if compares to total immersion. Secondly, the learners require more time in learning a second language and their result is poorer than those who are in total immersion program. Consequently, this technique is not hundred percent successful and so it need to combine with other method so that the learners can successfully learn a second language. I think the best method to combine with partial immersion is by using audiolingual method because this method can help the learners to achieve native-like status by improving their speaking and listening skills. As I have mention earlier, the audiolingual method allows the learners to use visual aids such as language laboratory and this can improve the learners speaking and listening skill because they can always practice in speaking and listening dialogues whenever they wish.
However, the audiolingual method also has it disadvantages such as it does not develop writing skills and grammar. Secondly, the use of mother tongue is restricted. Because of these weaknesses, the learners was unable to improve their writing and grammatical skills and some of the learners may be easily feel stress because they are not encourage to use their native language. This may cause the learners feel scared to attend the second language class because they feel unsecured and embarrassed if they were unable to speaks entirely in the second language. Consequently, they lost interest in learning the second language and their performance will decline.
As a way to overcome the disadvantages, the audiolingual method should be combine with partial immersion. The reasons is partial immersion allow the learners to use their first language if they wish. Therefore, the first language is not totally neglected while the second language of the learner is still developing. Besides that, by using partial immersion, the learners also have the opportunity to learn about other skills such as grammar, vocabulary and writing. Therefore, if the two techniques is combine, then the learners have the opportunity to learn all the skills such as speaking, listening, writing, grammar and so on. Furthermore, partial immersion is a very successful program though it still has some weaknesses such as lack of the use of visual aids, speaking, and listening. In this case, the Audiolingual method is function as a solution to help overcome the disadvantages of partial immersion. Therefore, both the partial immersion and audiolingual method are not considered as 100% best technique because each of this technique has its own disadvantages and so it is necessary to combine these two technique in learning a second language. By combining the two techniques, both of the techniques may help to overcome the disadvantages of each other.
VII. How does it work?
In my opinion, these techniques will workable if the government provide more funds for the construction of more language laboratories in school. Moreover, the government and the school sector should prepare more facilities such as visual aids and improve the learning environment so that the learners can enjoy themselves in learning. For example, the government provides more fund to improve the facilities of the school such as build more language laboratory, extra visual aids for teaching and learning.
Then the class should be conducted in two sessions such as the first session the learners are taught in bilingual while the second session is conducted in entirely second language. Every day the classes are conducted in two session and each session is about hours. The first session is conducted in bilingual while the second session is conducted in entirely second language. In between the two sessions, the learners should have an hour break before the second session is conducted. During the first session the teachers taught in bilingual and learner are allows to use their first language to ask or answer the questions. Both the sessions should be conducted in language laboratory. The first session is mostly about the teachers giving lectures and explain in bilingual and the learners are allow to ask questions if they do not understand. While in the second session the teacher taught entirely in second language and learner are not allowed to speak in their first language.
The activities during the second session is mostly about drill such as repetition drill, question and answer drill, and complete the dialog. For example, in the repetition drill, the learners are asked to repeat the teacher's model of dialog and the learners are requiring repeating as accurately and as quickly as possible. As for the question and answer drill, the learners are given the practice in answering questions and form questions to ask the others learners or the teacher. The next activity is complete the dialog. In this activity, the teacher speaks the dialog that has been taught and the learners are requiring answering or filling in the blank of the missing words.
As a conclusion, learning a second language is very important because we can gain many advantages from it such as to get a better job, to communicate with foreigners and so on. Every learner require a different type of learning technique and therefore sometimes a learner especially the adults, fails to successfully learn a second language if they choose a wrong technique. Therefore, to successfully learn a second language, the learners and the teachers should plan a best technique to learn or teach a second language. Until today, there are many different types of learning techniques but not all these techniques are perfect because each of them has its own disadvantages. Therefore, it is necessary to combine the advantages of two or more techniques to overcome their disadvantages. In my opinion, I think the best way is to combine partial immersion program and audiolingual method because the partial immersion was proved as a successful technique and the audiolingual method can help the learners to achieve native-like status. I personally feel that, these techniques are workable for me and I think it would be successful for other second language learners.
Bowen, B. M. Look Here! Visual Aids in Language Teaching London Macmillan Press
Eric Digest Foreign Language Immersion Programs. http//www.cal.org/ericcll/digest/met00001.html (10 April 2000)
Haycraft, J. An Introduction to English Language Teaching. Ed. Ke-4. Longman Group Ltd.
Larsen-Freeman, D. TECHNIQUES AND PRINCIPLES IN LANGUAGE TEACHING. Oxford University Press.
O'Grady, W. , Dobrovolsky, M. & Katamba, F. Contemporary Linguistics. Ed. Ke- London & New York Longman.
Richards, J. C. & Rodgers, T. S. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press.
Teaching Methods and Correlation to Learning in the Language Classroom. http//ivc.uidaho.edu/f1brain/learning.htm
The Audiolingual Method. http//www.abacom.com/~nathan/audio.htm
Types of Immersion Education An Introduction
What is a language learning technique?
Yule, G.The study of language. Ed. Ke-. United Kingdom Cambridge University Press.
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