ESL job interview question: Tell us about structural-situational language teaching method

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Structural-situational language teaching method was developed by British applied linguists in the 1930s to the 1960s

Language presentation and practice was situational. All techniques of audio lingual method and situation considered as use of concrete objects, pictures with gestures and actions. Speaking and listening were most important.  It gave rise to the idea of PPP (presentation, practice, production) in which target item presented as semi-controlled practice and free practice role-playing. 

Focus was primarily given to speech which was regarded as the basis of language and structure was viewed as being the heart of speaking ability. This led to less importance to other abilities such as writing.

This method had been criticized for being time-consuming, insistence on giving the meaning of words and structures through dramatization, demonstration and association without resorting to the mother tongue had led to the using of roundabout technique which was time wasting. The learner was expected to deduce the meaning of a particular structure or vocabulary item from the situation in which it was presented which might lead to confusion on the part of the learner and misunderstanding. The learner was expected to apply the language learned in the classroom to situations outside the classroom. The problem was  not guaranteed that learners would apply what they have learned, and even if they were willing to do so it was not guaranteed that they would be able to do it especially in countries where the language learned is not used frequently. Errors were not tolerated. This could cause stress which may hinder the learning process. Accuracy in both pronunciation and grammar were regarded as crucial. Eventually, there was no mention of communication ability in this method (Al Humidi 1989).

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