ELT Methods and Approaches – the emperor’s new clothes

LOGO FINALAll The TEFL Show podcasts can be found in this playlist on Soundcloud and in the iTunes Store here. You can subscribe to the show there, download the podcasts to listen to later and share them on social media.

In this podcast we discuss different approaches to teaching English, such as the Audiolingual Method, Dogme, Lexical Approach, PPP and TBL. We also question whether there is any solid research behind these methods, and argue that perhaps their rise and decline have much more to do with changing fashions and much less with scientific evidence than we’d like to admit.

We’d love to hear what your take on the different ELT methods is, so leave us a comment below the post, and take part in the poll below. We’re looking forward to your comments.

The podcast music theme is under Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0 International License and was downloaded from this website.


7 thoughts on “ELT Methods and Approaches – the emperor’s new clothes

    1. Thanks for your comment and for sharing your article. Definitely agree that teachers are told that certain methods are better than others, but at the same time there’s very little evidence to support or discredit particular approaches. A lot of what we do in the class is based on our beliefs rather than scientific evidence.
      It’s a shame that there’s such a big divide between researchers and practitioners. I love Russ’ blog. He’s doing a great job at popularising a more critical and research-based approach to ELT.

  1. Hi Marek and Rob,

    No one seems to have attempted to answer your very difficult question: Is there any solid research any solid, scientific research that demonstrates any of these methods (Audiolingual Method, Dogme, Lexical Approach, PPP and TBL) is better, more effective than any other?

    I’ll stick my neck out and say no, and there probably never will be for the same reason that there’ll never be scientific proof that one person is better-looking than all the rest.

    First there has to be consensus on what constitutes “speaking a language”. If speaking English means speaking the way an upper-class English person educated to PhD level at Oxbridge speaks, then I don’t speak English. According to accounts in the press, an Irishman was refused Australian nationality because he failed the IELTS (see: http://www.australiaplus.com/international/2015-09-24/irish-paralympian-fighting-to-become-australian-citizen-held-back-by-english-language-test/1496478). There are a lot of gimmicky apps around which seem to believe speaking a language depends on the number of words you can translate into your native language. There are several other implicit or explicit definitions of what “speaking a language” means that I find quite ridiculous.

    You may find what I would suggest also quite laughable: to speak the way nearly all five-year-olds speak the language of their environment. That is, fluently and accurately as far as the basic structures of the language are concerned but with very limited lexis; their pronunciation is also the same as that of the people around them. That was my aim for my students with the caveat that “the environment” is not necessarily defined as only native speakers. Like Dogme, I favoured a production first approach in the classroom. Intensive listening and reading is very useful but it can be done outside the classroom without the presence of a teacher.


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