OPINION: Foreign languages should be taught through a variety of methods

PHOTO: Different learning styles aid teaching foreign languages, such as those of the countries with pins shown.

By Soraya Fattahi,

BlueDevilHUB.com Staff–

Language is taught in many different ways, whether it be through audio, physical signs, or visuals. How effective the most popular learning styles are has long been debated.

There is not one method that is better than the others in teaching a foreign language. The effectiveness of a learning style in helping learn a foreign language depends on the individual, and how they respond to each learning style.

One of the most common ways in which people learn a foreign language is the language exposure method, which usually includes total immersion in a language. 

However total immersion in a foreign language is hard to achieve in a classroom because it requires almost 24-hour immersion, therefore this method usually occurs in households where the parents teach their children a foreign language. 

Junior Emma Nansen believes that learning Portuguese at home in a Portuguese immersed setting was more effective in learning the language.

“Learning Portuguese at home helped a lot and made the process a lot faster […] when you’re learning the language at home it’s much more auditory because you’re constantly hearing the language which helps a lot with working on pronunciation, sentence structure and grammar that is actually used by people who speak the language,” Nansen said.

Teachers can use the language exposure method by teaching in an immersion program. 

Here in Davis, schools such as Cesar Chavez Elementary use this method by teaching students subjects in school in Spanish, except for in English classes. 

Junior Shea Sorrentino participated in the Spanish immersion program at Cesar Chavez Elementary, as well as being taught to speak Italian at home by her father. 

“I think that the Spanish immersion program was pretty effective in teaching Spanish however learning Italian at home didn’t really feel like learning and taught me more about how to actually converse with people,” Sorrentino said. 

There is also the language teaching method, this method is the most well-known and includes teaching a foreign language in a classroom setting. 

Within the language teaching method, there are other methods of teaching a foreign language such as the direct method and the audiolingual method. 

The direct method, which is also known as the natural approach is most commonly used in classrooms. In this method teachers use visual aids, demonstrations and vocabulary realia to teach a foreign language. The native language is forbidden in these classrooms and grammar is de-emphasized in the beginning. 

The direct method is beneficial because students learn a foreign language naturally, as they would with their native language.

The audiolingual method uses repetition to cement ideas into student’s heads. It uses audio-visual aids to teach individuals the structures and patterns in a foreign language, nowadays the method is used as a part of the lesson, not the whole thing.

The audio-lingual method is useful because it requires for students to memorize key terms and develop learning habits. 

Choosing what form of teaching a foreign language really depends on what students require as individuals, therefore it is important to incorporate many different learning styles when teaching lessons. 

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