In India English is taught both as a second language and as a foreign language. The term
second language is used because it has become a ‘lingua franca’ between speakers of
widely diverse languages.
By English as a ‘foreign language’ is meant that English is
taught as a school subject or an adult level solely for giving students a foreign language
competence, for both, it is essential for English teacher to teach in such a manner that
desired goals can be achieved. Knowledge of the principles of teaching English
Language is needed.
Since these principles are fruitful for all foreign language teaching,
they are aptly called as general principles of foreign language teaching. Foreign
language teachers must keep in mind the following principles to achieve effectiveness
in their teaching:
Principle of Naturalness
The mother-tongue is always learnt easily because there is a
natural environment for learning mother-tongue. The mother-tongue is spoken in the
environment created by family and neighborhood.
From the very beginning the child
listens to his parents, brothers, sisters, friends talking in that language. He rises with
that language and sleeps with that language. In this way, a natural environment for
mother-tongue learning is created around him.
But this is not true with foreign
language. The child encounters this language all of a sudden in one of his classes and
only for four or six periods in a week. Therefore, it becomes difficult for him to learn
the language. Hence, a natural environment should be provided by
(i) Talking to students in the foreign language in the class, playground, etc.
(ii) Encouraging students, to converse in only this language because “To make a language
natural it must be spoken; it is fruitless and impossible to make a language usable that
exists only on the written pages.”
(iii) Arranging for group discussions.
Principle of Exposure
The teacher should try to expose students to an environment loaded with the foreign language. He can do so by :
(i) Distributing pamphlets in simple foreign language.
(ii) Forming a foreign language speaking club in the school.
(iii) Putting charts with slogans written in English on walls etc.
(iv) Showing slides in English.
(v) Taking students to watch educable movies in foreign language.
The technique of advance organizer can also be used. For this the
teacher should write some sentences on the black-board, before the students enter the
class. When they will come they will interestingly read what has been written on the
The Principle of Habit Formation
Language learning is a skill like learning cycling,
swimming. Language is the instrument of all subjects. So it should be automatic, i.e., a habit.
It should be learnt to the point that little or no effort is made to speak it. The following
habits should be formulated in students :
(i) habit of listening to sounds and distinguishing between sounds.
(ii) habit of speaking with proper intonation and accent.
(iii) habit of imitating.
(iv) habit of repeating.
(v) habit of spelling.
(vi) habit of reading aloud with exact articulation.
(vii) habit of silent reading.
(viii) habit of using correct grammar.
(ix) habit of using words in their proper contexts.
(x) habit of correct pronunciation.
(xi) habit of consulting dictionary.
(xii) habit of going to library and
(xiii) habit of reading news-papers, journals, magazines, story books etc.
The principles of Using Mother-Tongue
“When we learn first language, we face the universe directly and learn to clothe it with speech; when we learn a second language, we tend to filter the universe through it.
The language already known. “So we can use
mother-tongue in teaching foreign language. Although some linguists stress its negative
role but it has been found facilitating the acquisition of foreign languages, as pointed
The teaching of the mother-tongue and teaching of a foreign language can support and assist each other.”P. Gurney
The Principle of Proper Order and Proportion
The four distinct activities involved in
language learning are :
(3) reading and
The classical order of teaching these activities is :
First– understanding, Second– speaking, Third– reading, Fourth– writing.
Principle of Passive and Active Vocabulary
One objective of teaching English is to increase vocabulary of students. There are two kinds of vocabulary :
|Passive Vocabulary||Active Vocabulary|
|Those words which are recognized and understood, but never|
used in speaking and writing, formulate this type of vocabulary.
|Words which are understood and constantly used by the learner|
in speaking and writing, form active vocabulary.
For instance, the word elegant is in passive vocabulary. The teacher should try to bring this words in the active vocabulary of the students. When the student starts using the word ‘elegant’ off and on, then the word ‘gaiety’ should be taken over and so on. Hornby has given suggestions as to how to prepare a list of active and passive vocabulary.
The Principle of Motivation.
Motivation is the core of learning
Perhaps, no other principle is so important as of motivation because a student motivated to learn a
foreign language, can himself manage to learn the language, somehow or the other. But to motivate students to learn the foreign language is an up-hill task as there is no internal force for learning this language. Mother-tongue is learnt in a motivational stage because the child wants to express his thoughts and ideas. For him, there remains no alternative except to learn the mother-tongue. The process goes like this :
Internal desire to express ideas – motivation to learn language – learning the
But, for the foreign language, there is no such internal desire, because there is
already the mother-tongue to express ideas. Therefore, special techniques are
required to motivate students to learn the foreign language. They are :
(i) Arousing Techniques. These techniques will arouse students from a state
of sleepiness. Inducing anxiety, frustration, curiosity are some of the
techniques of arousing.
(ii)Expectancy Techniques. A person only gets motivated when there are
goals to achieve and expectancy to achieve them. So, teachers should
formulate clear cut goals before students.
(iii) Incentive Techniques. Under these, the following techniques come
Prize, punishment, praise, reproof, grades, competitions etc.
Principles of Selection
These principles are based on the assumption that the whole system of the language cannot be taught within a short period. Since we can teach only limited things within a limited period, teaching-matter should be selected keeping the following principles in mind:
Frequency, Range, Availability, Coverage ,Teach ability, Learnability, Usefulness ,Productive
Principles of Gradations
- Principle of Familiarity
- Principle of Simplicity
- Principle of Grouping
- Principle of Grouping
- Phonetic Sequence : Similar sounds are to be taught
- Lexical Sequence
- Grammatical Sequence
Principle of Phonology
Spoken language depends on sound and written language depends on sight. But it is hard to remember written symbols without attaching them with spoken symbols.
Therefore, teaching a foreign language should start with hearing sounds and speaking the language. In no case it should start from writing. Wren also states the predominating importance of speech, “There was speech in the world a long
time before there was writing.”
Thompson and Wyatt also proclaim, “Book-work and
pen-work introduce passivity instead of activity.
Oral work introduces activity.” Prof.
Kittson has expressed similar views by saying, “Learning to speak a language is always
by far the shortest road to learning to read it and to write it.”
The Principle of Interest
This is a very signification principle. If the teacher is successful
in creating interest in student to learn the foreign language, half the battle is won.
Interest can be aroused by :
(a) Audio-visual aids, e.g., pictures, charts, gramophone, records,
(b) Making the material meaningful, i.e., related to life,
(c) Doing different types of activities, e.g., speaking, reading, writing.
According to Wren, “Lessons can be made interesting by utilizing
objects and pictures, interesting to the class : by allowing all boys to do something as
well as to say something : by giving fullest play ……………”.
The Principle of Learning by Doing
This principle emphasizes on acquiring skill by doing.
For a foreign language acquisition of written work. pronunciation, reading, spelling
writing, hearing are essential activities. Students should be given a good practice of
The Principle of Multiple Line of Approach
According to R. N. Safaya, “The term multiple line of Approach implies that one has to proceed simultaneously from many
different points towards the one and the same end.” So, the teacher should adopt
many approaches judiciously and rationally selected to reach the goal.” The different
approaches which can be used are illustrated here :
The Principle of Accuracy and Correctness
Accuracy implies to the use of right or exact
words. It means that words should be used which impart meaning for contexts. For this
the following are imperative :
(a) The selection of words should be right,
(b) Use of words should be economical,
(c) Expression should be impressive.
Correctness stands for accuracy of pronunciations, intonation, spelling,
structures and articulation. From the very beginning, the teacher should be both
accurate and correct.
The Principle of Concreteness
This principle is based on the assumption that knowledge
can be stored in mind permanently, if it is gained through practical experience. A child
can remember ‘lotus’ more if he has seen the flower himself than when has not. The
teacher, therefore, should begin with concrete things.
As P. C. Wren Says, ‘the first
words of English should be names of things and those things should be there before
him as they are named ……….. He must say ‘book’, ‘desk’ etc.
and point to the things he
names. ” For this, the teacher can use either classroom material or should bring with
him handy material. Besides nouns, others, e. g., adjectives, pronouns, prepositions,
conjunctions, verbs, adverbs should also be taught keeping in mind this principle.
The Principle of Correlation with Life
While teaching, the subject-matter should be related to life, customs, traditions, peculiarities and characteristics of the particular society to which the students belong. In this way, teaching can be more meaningful and learning can be transferred to real life situations.
The Principle of Language Aptitude
Specialists of language like Carroll and Spoon are
of the view that for learning a language, language aptitude is needed.
There are some main
components of language aptitude which should be developed in students. These
components are :
(i) Phonetic coding :- Ability to code sound in such a way that it can be remembered.
(ii) Grammar :- Ability to handle grammar.
(iv)Inferring linguistic rules, patterns, etc.
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