There are many approaches and methods in language teaching. Among those, the Bilingual method, developed in the 1960s is a language teaching approach that focuses on oral production. The key element is that English, along with the mother tongue are both used. Most of the class is in English, but the mother tongue is used to explain the grammar elements, mainly to assist understanding and to save time. Keep on reading for all the details you need to know about the Bilingual method of teaching English.
What is the Bilingual Method?
First of all, what is the bilingual method? It’s when you use two languages in a class to teach a language. So for example, if you’re teaching in Korea, the students would use Korean as their mother tongue and then you would also be using English in that class. So how does it work? Well, the explanation is in Korean or Japanese—the grammar rules and the vocabulary but then the rest of the class is conducted in English.
Who invented the bilingual method?
The Bilingual method was invented by C.J. Dobson in 1967. It is considered to be a combination of the direct method and the grammar-translation method. Like the direct method and the audio-lingual approach, it focuses on oral production. However, unlike the grammar-translation method, it leads to free conversation.
In terms of lesson planning, most people who use the bilingual method follow the presentation-practice-production style.
What are the main aims of the bilingual method?
Some of the main aims of the bilingual method are as follows:
- To assist in a greater understanding of the target language by use of the mother tongue.
- To save time, energy and labour on the part of the teacher.
- Speaking practice for students with the goal to achieve bilingualism.
- Allows students to speak freely, using words and sentences that have meaning to them, not just parroting something.
- To allow greater access to English lessons, particularly in rural areas.
- To use the mother tongue as a teaching tool but not a student crutch (most of the lesson is conducted entirely in English).
What are some of the pros of the bilingual method?
First of all, it can help students achieve fluency because most of the class is conducted in English. There’s just a little part, the explanation part that is conducted in the mother tongue but then they’re spending the rest of the class focused on English.
It can save time so if you are explaining a complicated grammar rule or a vocabulary item just using a little, little bit of their native language or having maybe a co-teacher or something like that, that would use a simple explanation in the native language. The next pro is accuracy. So this can help students achieve greater accuracy because they’ve had a good explanation of what the grammar point is. Or, what that vocabulary item is.
The next pro is that it’s easy to teach. This means that a lot of teachers can use this method. For example, if someone is not that confident in English but they are teaching English, they might not be able to explain quite complicated grammar rules in English. That’s not that easy to do actually, but if they can explain it in their own native language that can really help them and can help the students.
What are some of the cons of the bilingual method?
First of all, it can lead to a bit of confusion if you’re switching between English and then another language. Maybe students aren’t sure about exactly when they should be using each language and they may try to use their native language when they actually should be using English in kind of the production phase of the class.
Another con is that it’s better for beginners, rather than higher-level students. Beginners may want a class where the teacher is explaining grammar things in their native language. However, for higher-level students, it may not actually be that useful to be conducting the class in a language that’s not English.
The next issue is there might be some pronunciation problems. This can lead to people kind of like learning English through their own alphabet which is a bit of a struggle sometimes. So learning English through English is actually a great way to prevent that because they’re always separate and they would never be taught together.
And the next con is that you can kind of find some examples of blended language. So this is where students will kind of use a mix of two different languages at the same time. Like English or Korean instead of just walking into class and then they know it’s all English, all the time.
Bilingual Method FAQs
There are a number of common questions that people have about using this method for teaching a language. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
What are the characteristics of the bilingual method?
The main characteristics of the bilingual method are:
- The class is conducted mainly in English.
- The first language is used briefly for grammar teaching.
- Most of the class is focused on oral production of the language.
Who gave the bilingual method of teaching?
The bilingual method of teaching was developed by C.J. Dobson in 1967 as a counterpart to the popular audio-lingual method.
What are the benefits of the bilingual method?
The bilingual method promotes a deeper understanding of English by connecting it to the students’ native language. It helps students overcome language barriers, develop cultural awareness, and maintain a strong sense of identity. Additionally, it can enhance cognitive abilities and foster bilingualism.
How is the bilingual method implemented in the classroom?
In the bilingual method, teachers use a combination of English and the students’ native language to deliver instruction. They may use translations, provide explanations, and encourage students to use their native language when necessary to support comprehension and learning.
Are there any potential challenges with the bilingual method?
One challenge of the bilingual method is striking the right balance between using English and the native language. Teachers need to ensure that English is the primary focus while using the native language strategically to support understanding. Another challenge is the availability of qualified bilingual teachers and appropriate resources.
Is the bilingual method suitable for all English language learners?
The bilingual method is particularly beneficial for English language learners who have limited proficiency in English. It provides a supportive environment that helps students gradually transition to using English as their primary language of instruction. However, the suitability of the method may vary depending on the specific needs and goals of individual students.
Engaging Ideas for Teaching English
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 96 Pages - 06/04/2015 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)
The bilingual method is all oral production. This book will help you out with some great ideas for the classroom! 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities for Teenagers and Adults. For this style of teaching, most people use the presentation, practice, production thing. That’s where this book comes in—during the production phase, you can really get creative and use some of the fun and interactive ideas from this book.
Pick up a copy today and get ready for better English lessons tomorrow.
Bilingual Approach: Join the Conversation
Do you have any thoughts about using two languages within a language-learning classroom? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about it. We’d love to hear from you.
Last update on 2022-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API