Second Language Acquisition - Bilingual Method

Q. What does SLA(2) stand for?

Second Language Acquisition and the second (2) means after the first mother tongue LA(1).

Q.  Is a student’s mother tongue a help or hindrance in learning a new language?

If you pop your head into an English language class around the world and it would appear it’s more often considered a hindrance. But is that what it really is? Proponents of the Bilingual method argue that the mother tongue is an essential tool for achieving fluency in a second language.

Q. What’s the Bilingual Method?

There are three widely-recognized methods of teaching a language:

1. The Grammar-Translation Method

2. The Direct Method

3. The Bilingual Method

Often referred to as the traditional method, the grammar-translation method is derived from the classical approach to teaching Latin and ancient Greek. This method places a strong emphasis on the grammatical structure of language and is heavy on rote memorization for learning. Lessons are undertaken in the students’ native language (L1) and involve extensive translation to and from the students’ target language (L2).

The direct method has been strongly favored among language teachers for many years now. The direct method utilizes L2, employing visual aids and role-playing extensively, and encourages students to use an inductive approach to discover the rules of the target language. It attempts to simulate the conditions through which we acquire our native language and, therefore, heavily discourages the use of the mother tongue.

Our focus here is on the third method: the bilingual method. This method was developed by C.J. Dodson in the 1960s and 1970s. Dodson set out to make improvements to the audio-visual method (which has much in common with the direct method outlined above). The bilingual method makes use of the traditional three P’s: presentation, practice, production. The three P’s are the three main stages of any language lesson. First, you present material. Then you all practice together and students are expected to produce something with their new knowledge. The bilingual method advocates the use of the L1 in learning the L2. It’s distinct from the grammar-translation method in that it places a strong emphasis on oral language.







Principles of Bilingual Method

  • The meanings of words and phrases/sentences in a foreign language can be made clear by the use of mother tongue.
  • There is no need to create situations for making the meaning of English words and sentences.
  • Bilingual method  is the improvement  and combination of translation method and direct method.

Characteristics of Bilingual Method

  • 'Sentences' is the unit of teaching.
  • It emphasizes on creating situation.
  • Mother tongue is used when it is necessary to explain the difficult area of language.
  • Rigorous practice is done in sentence.
  • Rules  of  grammar  are not  taught  separately  as is done  in  grammar translation method.

Merits of Bilingual Method

  • The time and labour of the teacher is saved
  • It is less costly and suited to all types' schools in rural or urban.
  • It is helpful in creating linguistic habits.
  • This method does not need trained teachers
  • Much audio-visual aids are not needed.
  • It also stresses speech practice.
  • An average teacher of English can teach the lesson successfully through this method
  • It ensures accuracy- The meanings of English words and sentences are made quite clear to the students. It is free from the defects of Direct Method in which meanings of English words and sentences remain vague and pattern practice is given on vague grounds.
  • It ensures fluency in speaking English- The students taught through Bilingual method were quite superior to the student taught by any other method in speaking English fluency.
  • Less costly than direct method- In direct method, a lot of illustrative material in the form of audio-visual aids, is needed. In direct method, it involves a lot of expenditure, which schools cannot afford.
  • It suits majority of Indian teachers- Direct method only suits a few able and bright teachers who have a good command over English but this method suits the majority of Indian teachers who have an average knowledge of English.

Demerits of Bilingual Method

  • This method is still in an experimental stage.
  • It is not so useful in teaching secondary and senior secondary classes.
  • It is sometimes rather impossible to provide a correct mother tongue equivalent.
  • It may create confusion among students due to the contrast between the features of two languages.
  • Students are likely to develop an undesirable, habit of language.