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An analysis of the audio-lingual approach as applied to methods of teaching Russian.

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(Thesis) M.A.
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Problem:The term audio-lingual approach is used to denote a specific pedagogical orientation which grew out jgf_language-teaching programmes for United States military personnel during the Second World War. Its basic distinction from the traditional approaches is that language is to be taught as speech rather than as writing and grammar, as a living vehicle of communication rather than as a fossilized set of printed rules and paradigms. Language-learning, as defined audio-lingually, involves the acquisition of skills in speaking and understanding speech, while reading and writing are secondary skills based on the spoken language. Despite the acknowledged superiority over traditional methods, however, the new approach has not met with widespread acceptance. Its radical requirements have brought opposition from grammar-oriented language--teachers. Linguists themselves have challenged its effectiveness in actual classroom experience. Not all textbooks or teaching-methods purported to be based on the audio-lingual approach apply its principles to the same degree. Analysis: In considering the success of the audio-lingual approach itself we first examine its basic tenet regarding the primacy of speech and its IV claimed significance in the teaching of foreign languages. The specific challenges to this claim (especially those based on the principles of gradation and rate of learning) are then discussed as to their validity and conclusions drawn accordingly. In the next chapter the parallel development of both hearing and speaking skills is considered, together with the problem of interference from the learner's native tongue; contextual factors such as dialect, style, tempo, and vehicle of presentation are also taken into account here. Finally we turn our attention to the actual assimilation of language-material by the learner in the classroom situation. The aim in each case is to determine what factors are essential to or desirable in a successful audio-lingual teaching-method, S The second part of the thesis is devoted to an analysis of four i audio-lingual textbooks for beginning Russian students (Cornyn's Beginning Russian, Modern Russian by Dawson, Bidwell, and Humesky, Basic Conversational Russian by Fairbanks and Leed, and the A-LM Russian: Level One} on the basis of the criteria already established in the first part. The analysis covers not only the presentation and assimilation of audio--lingual skills in general, but also some of the individual difficulties involved in the mastery of those skills as far as teaching Russian to English-speaking students is concerned. Conclusions: A comprehensive summary in diagram form compares the treatment of different items in the audio-lingual approach by the four teaching-methods discussed. General conclusions are then divided into two parts: a) the recommendation that in audio-lingual methods sufficient attention be given to the learner's age and degree of literacy, his ability to understand as well as produce fluent speech, and his awareness of the finer points of contrast between the new language and his own; b) conclusions as to how well each of these considerations is treated in the different textbooks. A further final comment is made as to the success with which each of the teaching-methods, from an over-all viewpoint, applies the principles of the audio-lingual approach.
Thesis (M.A.) - Dept. of Modern Languages - Simon Fraser University
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Thesis advisor: Calhoun, Edward R.
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