The Army Method, commonly known as the Audio-Lingual Method, is a language teaching approach that emerged due to the demand for effective communication among military personnel during World War II. This approach is based on behaviourist theories which posit that learning languages can be influenced by pattern repetition and reinforcement. In modern language teaching, the Audio-Lingual Method has become less popular. However, at Britishey Training Centre, we have found ways to integrate some of its drilling techniques into our instruction to help English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students excel in their linguistic skills. This essay explores the characteristics of the Army Method, its application at Britishey Training Centre, and the advantages and disadvantages of using this method.
Characteristics of the Army Method
The Audio-Lingual Method primarily centres on the development of listening and speaking skills through mechanical drills and repetitive practices. The learner is encouraged to mimic patterns of sentences and dialogues in the target language, which are provided by the teacher or recordings. This method places great emphasis on accuracy and pronunciation, discouraging any use of the native language in the learning process. Additionally, the method focuses on teaching grammatical structures inductively, allowing students to deduce the rules from given examples.
Application at Britishey Training Centre
At Britishey Training Centre, we strive to cater for the diverse needs of our EFL students by incorporating various teaching techniques and methods. While we acknowledge the limitations and drawbacks of the Audio-Lingual Method, we also recognize that some of its core concepts can benefit students, especially in the early stages of language acquisition.
In our curriculum, we integrate elements of the Army Method by using controlled and focused drilling activities designed to improve the students’ pronunciation, listening, and speaking skills. For example, we use ‘listen and repeat’ exercises to ensure students have a clear understanding of proper pronunciation and intonation. Furthermore, we utilise substitution and transformation drills to help students internalise sentence structures and grammatical patterns.
Advantages of Integrating the Army Method
Integrating aspects of the Army Method provides several advantages in language learning. It helps students to:
1. Improve their listening comprehension and pronunciation, thus building confidence in their own speaking abilities.
2. Internalise the basic sentence structures and grammatical patterns of the English language. This foundation eases the learning and mastery of more complex structures.
3. Develop good language habits by consistently reinforcing accurate and fluent speech.
4. Gain valuable practice in the target language through repetition and drills, which is particularly useful for beginners.
Disadvantages of the Army Method
However, the Army Method does present some drawbacks when overused or applied in isolation:
1. Excessive reliance on repetition and drills can lead to a monotonous and uninspiring learning environment, diminishing student motivation.
2. The method’s strict focus on accuracy and adherence to native-speaker norms can create unnecessary pressure and frustration among learners.
3. The exclusion of native language or translation can be counterproductive, especially for students with limited English proficiency who may require explanations in their native language.
4. The method underemphasises reading and writing skills, as well as more advanced aspects of language learning like critical thinking and creativity.
In summary, the Army Method, or the Audio-Lingual Method, has the potential to offer valuable support in EFL education when combined with other language-learning approaches. At Britishey Training Centre, we employ the method judiciously to help students develop foundational listening, speaking, and pronunciation skills. By striking a balance between the Audio-Lingual Method and other contemporary teaching approaches, we aim to ensure a comprehensive and fulfilling learning experience for our EFL students.