Approach, Method, and Technique   2 comments

In English teaching process , there are terms that teachers need to know. They are approaches, methods, and techniques; yet, for some reasons, these terms are quite confusing that they are sometimes misunderstood or misinterpreted by teachers. Before the terms are explained any further, English teachers have to thank to Edward Anthony (1963) and Jack Richards and Theodore Rodgers (1982) (read Brown, 2001: p. 14). They put the apparent foundation to the terms.

Edward Anthony gave the explanation about method terms that was remarkably understandable at that time. He put forward the term in the second place out of three hierarchical elements in English education. In his perspective, approach was a group of hypothesis  that dealt with the type of language learning and language teaching. The examples of teaching approaches are GTM (Grammar Translation Method), Direct Method, Reading Method, ALM (Audio-lingual Method), Cognitive Code Learning, Communicative Approach, etc.

After approach, he set “method” in the second place.  In his point of view, method was the depiction of a general plan of systematic presentation of language based on a chosen approach. The example of methods are CLL (Community Language Learning), Suggestopedia, The Silent Way, and Natural  Approach. Maybe you are acquainted well with the instance of these methods and you have been using it over time.

The last term would be technique. In Anthony’s notion, technique was the activities manifested in the classroom and it has to be specific and consistently in rhyme with the former terms. So, we can say that the technique is the execution from our assumptions and plans.

Richards and Rodgers (1982) reformulate the concept of those terms into approach, design, and procedure with “method” as a superordinate term. They said that method was an umbrella term that integrated theory and practice. Furthermore, they explained design as the relationship between expert theories to classroom materials and activities while procedure as technique and the practical executions in the classroom that was developed eventually from approach and design. The explanation for approach was similar to what Anthony had said earlier.

The Richards and Rodgers’ reformulation made our understanding towards the concept of method better because:

  1. they made a clear specification from the important element of language teaching designs that was left vague previously. Objectives, syllabus, the roles of learner, the roles of teacher, activities, and the roles of instruction material are six important features that derived from Richards and Rodgers’ reformulation (Brown, 2001: pp. 14-15) and
  2. they forced us to relinquish the notion that separate, definable, and disconnected method is the essential barriers of methodology. Nearly all language teaching methods oversimplified the assumptions that all teachers do in the classroom could be made as standard practice.

Though their reformulation and new meaning really revived our understanding, their new concept of method   did not catch on in pedagogical literature. The concept their offered about method is, on the other hand, more comfortably referred as methodology by Brown.

In conclusion, Brown (2001: pp. 15-16) defines the terms in a new definition, in other words, he makes reformulation. The new reformulation of the terms are as follows:

  1. Methodology: Pedagogical practices in general. All things that are engaging into “how to teach” questions are methodological, whatever the considerations take into accounts.
  2. Approach: Theoretically well-informed positions, assumptions, thoughts, notions, and beliefs  concerning the nature of language, the nature of language learning, and the applicability of both in pedagogical setting, it does mean in classroom practice.
  3. Method: A generalized set of specification in the classroom for achieving linguistic objectives. Methods main concern is to teachers and learners’ roles and behavior. Besides, the concern of method is to linguistic and subject matter objectives, sequencing, and materials.
  4. Curriculum/Syllabus: The focal concern of curriculum (commonly used in US system) and syllabus (commonly used in UK system) is linguistic and subject matter objectives, sequencing, and materials. The purpose is to meet the needs and fulfill the challenges to defined group/class in particular context/situation.
  5. Technique: Any exercise, activities, and tasks in the classroom to meet the objectives or goal of learning.

As language keeps growing and developing, the terms have possibilities to change significantly. When a teacher start enjoying teaching, challenges, growth, development, and joy await in every turn. Perplexing process is one part that will be faced by teacher but it is truly worthy since the excitement to see your students grown up academically is an ample satisfaction. The culmination of teacher’s life is to see his or her students’ development way beyond his or her expectation.


Posted November 8, 2010 by lukmanblack in General English Education

2 responses to “Approach, Method, and Technique

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  1. wow … awesome summary … being a student with fully equipped theories sometimes didn’t really work when I faced the ‘real life’ at school. The hardest part is how to engage our students. Apparently, you are ready to be a lecturer.

    — having an experience: the first time I came to the real world, I was trying to connect all the theories with the real world but they were scattered … I had to find my ways in practical ways.

    thanx. great writing!

    • Thank you so much, Ma’am. It’s such a pleasure to get a complement from you, I know I haven’t deserved to get such wonderful comment from you. It’s a great honor.
      Is there any critic or maybe suggestion to develop my writing skill or the context of my writing?
      Thanks a heap 🙂

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