Comparative Teaching Methodologies I am not an expert at teaching methodologies, and will not draw any technical conclusions in this article, merely provide personal observations on a topic of interest.
Identify and compare foreign language learning methodologies experienced by the writer, as a means of considering how EFL/ESL methodologies affect learners of english
(as supposed by the writer).
Discuss the article Why ESL Doesnt Work3 by Lynn Lundquist, and the ASE methodology in general why is it so popular and what merits does it have?
Discuss the ESA methodology and consider if the above article truly applies to a well prepared and delivered ESA lesson.
Preliminaries and Background prior to writing this article
I have nearly completed the TEFL course through International TEFL Teacher Training (ITTT). This course has given me a basic grounding in the ESA methodology.
I recently stumbled upon the web-article Why ESL Doesnt Work3 and subsequently read the e-book Learning Spoken english
4; I next evaluated the free software at http://www.freeenglishnow.com/ and reviewed the materials for the first few lessons.
I have studied, with various degree
s of success, the following languages: (besides my L1, english
Maori (Primary school, Workplace 2 years, Tertiary provider 1 year 2 months)
(Secondary school 2 years, correspondence school 1 year, Alliance Franaise remedial classes 3 months)
(informal verbal learning 2 years)
Russian (book self-study 2 months)
Esperanto (free online course
Hindi (book self study and private verbal instruction 6 months)
Korean (book self study and informal verbal learning 1 year [ongoing])
informal verbal learning learning through speaking and iteratively growing vocabulary and grammar through listening and asking questions; not planned lessons.
private verbal instruction learning through sessions with a native speaker specifically for the purpose of learning vocabulary and grammar, but not structured lessons as such.
Please see my appendix to this article which summarises my experiences.
Note: the abbreviations for the 2 competing methodologies are quite similar: ASE and ESA.
I have had an interest in learning languages from a young age. My attempts to learn languages besides my L1 have exposed me to the following techniques as listed in the ITTT unit 3 material on Theories and Methodologies (beside my experienced outcomes overall):
Grammar translation Fair
Verbal unstructured lessons Poor-Fair
Written unstructured lessons Poor
The article written by Lynn Lundquist is intriguing, because it claims that the ASE methodology gives better results than EFL/ESL based lessons with only half the time invested. The science behind the methodology is convincing, and the statistics of how the free course has grown in up-take and distribution is staggering.
(Of course I cant verify the validity of any of these claims, but then neither can most people and many are choosing to take the course on the basis that it is free and the claims are convincing).
There are some points made by Lundquist which strike deep to the heart of any language learner: we want to be able to speak the kind of language that native speakers use; we want to understand them. Lundquist accuses EFL/ESL and free church-group style learning as not catering to that basic need. Instead she says that these methods employ too much time teaching grammar and/or using activities which are not conducive to achieving the learners goal. Lundquist states that the key to learning english
is to speak it as much as possible.
On the other hand the TEFL unit 3 material would classify the ASE methodology as being, to a large degree, Audio - lingualism. TEFL states that this method is unfashionable having been tried and discarded. The reasons stated in the material are: language learning consisted of more than merely forming habits, and that speakers of a language are able to process language more effectively from the knowledge they have acquired.
The TEFL unit 3 material (page 4) provides a very sound list of objectives for a language teaching strategy. Top of this is exposure to language which is exactly Lundquists position. Of the list of seven, Lundquist would most likely agree with the majority, except possibly students should be encouraged to discover language for themselves; Lundquists methods show that she believes that students should be provided with what they need to learn.
Here is a table of those objectives against my understanding of the ASE methodology:
Students need as much exposure to language as possible In ASE, the recordings are 50% of the time, and student speaking is the other 50% (a slight exaggeration).
Students need a certain amount of input from the teacher ASE uses either a teacher reading a script, or taped recordings.
Communicative tasks offer real learning possibilities but are not enough on their own ASE uses an extended study and drill patterns rather than communicative tasks.
Anxiety and stress need to be low for effective language acquisition In ASE students are repeating after the english
speaker, so little opportunity for anxiety or stress.
Where possible students should be encouraged to discover language for themselves This is the point which mightnt apply to ASE. ASE does not meet or encourage this.
Vocabulary is as important as grammar. Both need each other. In ASE, the sentences used are all perfect grammatically, and employ varying levels of complexity. Vocabulary is acquired through verb drills and the diverse variety of sentences.
The methodology the teacher prefers may not be the preferred or correct option for students from different cultures. Compromise may be necessary. ASE would beg to differ, claiming to be the only viable methodology out there.
Lundquist herself has a list of 5 rules that students must follow in order to learn effectively:
1. To learn to speak english
correctly, you must speak it aloud.
2. To learn to speak english
fluently, you must think in english
3. The more you speak english
aloud, the more quickly you will learn to speak fluently.
4. You must never make a mistake when you are practicing spoken english
5. Your success will depend upon the amount of time you devote to spoken english
The ESA methodology, in contrast, does not meet many of Lundquists rules (which are ASE centric).
Furthermore, possibly only rule 1 is something EFL/ESL teachers would agree on which raises the question: How valid are these rules? I cannot say, but they do appear to contain a lot of bias towards the ASE methodology.
In the interest of balancing this article, let us now return to the ITTTs TEFL key methodology, the ESA methodology.
As I learnt in the TEFL course material (starting with the eBook), ESA stands for Engage, Study and Activate :- the names of the phases in ESA lessons. The names of the phases make their purpose quite apparent. ESA itself is little more than these and some general observations of which patterns are useful in certain learning scenarios. These simple guidelines assist teachers to plan their lessons, without restricting their freedom and/or creativity. However TEFL teach more than just this methodology, they also prepare EFL/ESL teachers for the reality of classroom dynamics, advice to make sure that a variety of resources and lesson styles are used, and that all language aspects should be balanced: listening, speaking, reading, writing (plus much, much more).
As a result, EFL/ESL teachers who study a TEFL course will have more confidence, ideas and sound theory behind their classroom practise and should generally provide a quality service to students. This is likely to be more stimulating than merely listening and speaking along to recordings, and if students are stimulated and enjoy their lessons then they are likely to continue studying which is one area that the ASE methodology is strangely quiet about. How many graduates
have they had in comparison to people who started the Learn to Speak english
Quickly course? Are their facts and figures representative of all graduates
or only the ones who did well? We will never know, because they will never tell and in fact might not know themselves.
While I cannot predict what the future of the ASE course will be, it has been running for a few years now, and if the statistics are to be believed has had a huge uptake internationally. It would be interesting to know whether their graduates
were a representative sample and if they have achieved according to the courses claims. If that is so then the actual mechanics may bear further investigation by linguists and others with PHDs in the relevant fields of science being used to make their claims.
The proponents of the Accelerated Spoken english
methodology (ASE), as implemented in the Spoken english
Learned Quickly course, are very biased but do make some interesting points about how the brain learns language.
The Engage, Study, Activate methodology (ESA), as taught through the ITTTs TEFL course, combines phased learning in a manner which should produce well rounded graduates
if applied correctly.
In regards to which methodology will ultimately prove to be the more reliable and effective in the long run, that outcome we shall have to wait and watch for.
Spreadsheet of my language learning experiences, including my (subjective) rating of their effectiveness.
1. An Introduction to TEFL A. Strachan, M. McCarthy, L. Fisher [ITTT]
2. TEFL Unit 3: Theories, Methods and Techniques [ITTT]
3. Why ESL doesnt work Lynn Lundquist http://www.freeenglishnow.com/eslnotwork.html
4. Learning Spoken english
Lynn Lundquist http://www.freeenglishnow.com/lsei.html