The approach to teaching a second language was the ‘Grammar translation approach’ or reading method. Bloomfield, the pioneering linguist, was the first to attack this method.
He pointed out the importance of spoken language. He analyzed the spoken language and recommended the use of spoken forms in teaching languages. Bloomfield had pointed out that each language consists of certain sounds.
These sounds are produced by human organs. The organs of speech are lungs, bronchial tubes, throat including the larynx,u uvula, hard and soft palate, tongue, teeth, and lips. The following diagram gives an idea of these organs.
The unit of the sound of a language is known as Phoneme. The phonemes may have various forms. The language is nothing but a combination of sounds produced by these organs. The speech sounds are, therefore “organized noises”.
The sounds produced by these organs are named according to the method of production and point of articulation. In each language, the phonemes – the basic unit of sound with its variant forms allophones and its combinations are limited.
For the practical purpose, it is necessary that phonemes be easily distinguishable and for this reason, the number of phonemes in any language is limited.
The other feature of the language is structure. The simplest unit of structure is a morpheme. A morpheme is any word or part of a word used as an affix or combining form that conveys meaning and cannot be further subdivided into smaller elements conveying meaning.
Each linguistic sound has meaning. It stands for something, but the meaning change with the way words are used. Other features of the language are intonation, pause, and stress.
These are called suprasegmental phonemes. The meaning of linguistic forms depends upon the arrangement of these forms.
As pointed out earlier, the learning of a language does not look as confusing and frightening if you understand that any language has only a limited number of sounds and a definite structure that may be different from your own language. Understanding this very characteristic well makes learning easier.
The teachers are advised to learn what organs are used in producing English sounds. How the various sounds are combined to convey some sense and the basic structure of sentences.
The practice of these makes both learning and teaching easy. If you want to develop the ability to use the English language to convey thoughts, intentions, wishes, and information, you would need mastery of various elements.
These are individual sounds that are related to one another in utterances by structure (the grammar of the language) in respect of the written language and written symbols are also involved.
You must not forget that there are various skills involved in the mastery of a language. These may be classified as receptive skills: listening (spoken language) and reading (understanding of written language) and productive skills: (speaking and writing).
These skills involve a further element of a selection of relevant language for the situation concerned.
As a teacher of English, you will need to exercise your judgment to decide what skills should be taught to your pupils.
The choice of skills would naturally depend upon the purpose for which you are teaching English. That is why you must have a clear understanding of the purpose for which you are teaching this language.
Again, for mastery of English, the patterns of this language must be mastered. Just teaching rules of grammar does not help in mastering structure.
Rules of grammar are like scaffolding a new building. The scaffolding is removed as soon as the building is complete.
The best way to master patterns is continuous and systematic practice. It is better to teach phrases, idioms and colloquial usage in context without analyzing their structure.
The examples of these are given for your help, very good, very bad, repeat, altogether, see you, etc. If you use these continuously, they are learned without much effort.