This method emerged in the late 19th century as a reaction to the Grammar Translation Method since the Grammar Translation Method was not very effective in preparing students to use the target language communicatively.
The Direct Method receives its name from the fact that meaning is to be conveyed directly in the target language without going through the process of translating into the students’ native language.
The Direct Method has one very basic rule i.e. no translation is allowed. The target language is taught through the use of demonstration and visual aids, with no recourse to the students’ native language.
This method simply says that the meaning is taught by making a direct connection in the mind of the learner between what he/she sees and what he/she says and later what he/she thinks and what he/she says.
This method is based on the belief that L1 and L2 can be learnt in identical conditions. The basic premise of this method is that second language learning should be more like first language learning: lots of active oral interaction, spontaneous use of language, and little or no analysis of grammatical rules.
Principal Features of Direct Method
Direct Method has a number of features due to which this method is different from others. Some of the principal features as summarized by (Richards and Rodgers 1995: 9-10) are presented below.
- Classroom instruction is conducted exclusively in the target language.
- Only everyday vocabulary and sentences are taught.
- Oral communication skills are built up in a carefully graded progression organized around question and answer exchanges between teachers and students in small, intensive classes.
- Grammar is taught inductively.
- New teaching points are introduced orally.
- Concrete vocabulary is taught through demonstration, objects, and pictures; abstract vocabulary is taught by association of ideas.
- Both speech and listening comprehension are taught.
- Correct pronunciation and grammar are emphasized.
Techniques of Direct Method
The following techniques can be listed as the techniques of the Direct Method.
- The students are asked to read the given texts, play or dialogue aloud.
- The students are asked questions and answers in full sentences so that they practice new words and grammatical structures.
- The students are encouraged to correct the errors that they have committed themselves.
- The teacher asks a number of questions in the target language, which the students have to understand to be able to answer correctly.
- The students are engaged in the dictation activities.
- The students are asked to write a paragraph in their own words.
Advantages of Direct Method
- It follows the natural order of teaching language skills i.e. listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
- This method creates a target language-speaking environment in the classroom as well as in the whole school or institution where it is used.
- The teachers and the students are more like partners in the teaching-learning process.
- Grammar is taught inductively i.e. the students are presented with ample examples and encouraged to discover the rules.
- Students practice vocabulary by using new words in complete sentences.
- Students study common, everyday speech in the target language.
Disadvantages of Direct Method
- Though it offers innovations at the level of teaching procedures but lacked a thorough methodological basis.
- It needs competent and fluent target language teachers.
- Since grammar is taught inductively, students lack explicit knowledge of grammar.
- This method is largely dependent on the teacher’s skill, rather than on the textbook but all teachers may not be proficient enough to adhere to the principles of this method.
- Sometimes translation is needed in the classroom to make some difficult concepts clear to the students but this method does not allow any sort of translation.
- This method is difficult to apply beyond the elementary stages of language learning.
- It demands lots of teaching materials which is not always possible.