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Language Learning Methods - Audio-Lingual Method (Skinner and others)

The Audio-Lingual method of learning a second language is considered a non-communicative approach involving mimicking, imitating, and drilling.

Repetition and habit formulation are central to the elements of the instructions. It would create patterns in the target that would be recognizable to the student by the constant repeating process of both hearing and speaking the language continually.

The emphasis is on speech instead of writing. This approach unfairly associates with B.F. Skinner’s theory that includes a communicative approach to second language acquisition instructions.

The Army Method

Known as the Army method, ALM forcefully became necessary due to World War II. During World War II and afterwards, the ability to listen and speak a foreign language became a necessity. The challenge became apparent when the United States was unable to communicate with the rest of the world.

The audio-lingual method incorporated the direct method into its scope of learning a new language. Memorizing dialogues, playing games with grammar from the target language as well as practical drills helped to induce learning more efficiently.

The backward build up exercise is used to break down a new word into syllables. The student starts with the final word in any sentence and verbally repeats every word in the sentence by working backwards. Conversely, it can be done with each syllable of the word using the same backward technique to get the right pronunciation of each word.

The organization of grammatical structure is presented in the form of short dialogues. Listening to recorded conversations in the target language repeatedly and mimicking these dialogues help with quickly adapting to the language.

This particular method uses reinforcement tactics to teach a second language, which involves positive feedback if the grammar is correct and negative feedback if it is not.

Students are taught the foreign language directly instead of using their native language to explain new words and phrases in the second language.

Charles Fries, who was a director of the English Language department at the University of Michigan, thought that this method would work best by incorporating grammar and learning structures as the starting point. This meant that the students were given the drilling instructions, but it was their responsibility to recite the grammatical structures and pattern of each sentence orally.


The goal of using audio-lingual method successfully is to practice grammatical structures enough times to allow the student to use it instinctively. The teacher is in control of the drills because of the expectation of a particular response from the student. In the event that the student does not give the correct response, a negative feedback is received.

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 15th, 2009 at 6:32 pm and is filed under Language Learning, Linguistics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Language Learning Methods - Audio-Lingual Method (Skinner and others)”

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    It is a good article and the article gives a clear instruction on how to work on the Audio lingual method in a class room of different nature.

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