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The Breakthrough of Structuralism in Foreign Language Learning Classes (The Structural/Global Audiovisual Approach) SEMINAR PAPER

Instructor: prof. dr. Enisa Kaduni January 2009, Biha

Student:Majda Paali

CONTENT: 1. Introduction.. 3 2. Structural/Global Audiovisual Approach.5

It is already well known of the existence of the narrow correlation between the development of the science of the language and the methodology of language teaching classes. Nowadays, it is already found that the reformation of learning foreign languages has been directly or indirectly connected to the development of linguistic theory and that nowadays there are two or three main scientific themes of the language; structuralism and transformationalgenerative theory, which have found their place in the founding of teaching methods of foreign languages The term glottodidactics is very common and has widely spread. However, it is used by some authors in some Slovenian countries and in Italy. Glottdidactics as a theory of class teaching cuts into a wider area of used linguistics. On the other hand, glottodidactics is the base from which all the preparations for class teaching begin. So, glottodidactics is a term which is on the one side subordinate to the use of linguistics, on the other side of methodology, as its theoretical foundation. However, language is not only researched by linguistics. Another two scientific disciplines have major influence on the teaching of foreign languages. Those are psychology and sociology. Without their researching, the fields of teaching foreign languages would still be unexplored. Psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics are explaining those questions of foreign language classes which seem limited, but in fact they are going into the main part of the issue in language teaching. The theory of language teaching should be determined and developed so that the procedure of foreign language learning could be scientifically analyzed as any other scientific discipline. That theory is called glottodidactis. It cuts into all wide fields of used linguistics. The reformation of the foreign language teaching started very early and it proceeds with theinfluence of a variety of approaches and with the participation of many known names from the area of phonetics, grammar, linguistics and methodology. The breakthrough of the linguistic

theories in language classes brought about the reform of various methods. The most famous of our version audio-visual global structural method with which the schools in Zagreb made a breakthrough in the world. The shown differences between principles postulated in general didactics and those in glottodidactis only confirm the need of a special treatment and usage of glottodidactics.


While the Audio-Lingual approach was at its height in the English-speaking countries, in Europe - and particularly in France - a rather different mode held sway. This was elaborated by Peter Guberina, at the University of Zagreb, and Paul Rivenc at the Ecole Normale Sup de SaintCloud. The first full language learning program - Voix et Images de France - was published in 1962, and was later adapted for Primary school children as Bonjour Line. As with both the Direct Method and the Audio-Lingual method, language was seen as above all a means of communication. The oral language was more important than the written, which was simply derived from the former. Guberina claimed that language was an acousticovisual phenomenon, and elaborated a theory of auditive perception that was one of the bases of the method. To some extent, the SGAV was based upon the same kind of thinking as the Audio-Lingual approach. However, two important changes were made ;

- the matter to be taught was based not only on a structural analysis of language, but also on the statistical analysis of a corpus of ordinary, everyday language, both spoken and written. The analysis made it possible to construct the program on the basis of the frequency of particular structures and lexical items.

- the lessons were structured around an opening dialogue, which was accompanied with a film (stills) that contextualized it.

Moreover, the psychology of learning which underlay the method was opposed to the behaviourist model of the Audio-Lingual approach. The basis was what is known as 'Gestalt' theory, that held that the whole was more important than the parts - hence the term 'Global'. Language was to be understood within a sensual context, rather than abstracted from visual reality.

The language to be learned, as we have seen, is determined by forces outside the classroom. The vocabulary is set according to the frequency with which words appear in the spoken language - for French, this was based on research carried out in the early 50s, leading to the frequency list known as Franais Fondamental - comprising about 3,000 words, divided into two groups of about 1,500 words each. Basic grammar was founded on a similar analysis of frequency. These elements are presented in a spiral form, beginning with the most frequently used, and moving outwards to the rarer forms, but with care to be taken to reintroduce material regularly. The learner has no control over the contents of the program, nor over the way the lessons are delivered. A lesson typically follows a foreordained structure:

1. First the dialogue is presented, in situation - that is to say with the accompanying pictures. The dialogue is to be repeated, with a good imitation of the phonological form taken globally, rather than broken down sound by sound.

2. Next, the new elements are ritualised in contexts which are slightly different from the one in which they were presented. At this stage, the learners will play out short sketches.

3. Finally, the language would be fixed through structural exercises - preferably in the language laboratory. At this stage, the learning process resembles the Audio-lingual approach, with a similar use of drills and 'over-learning'.

In a number of ways, the SGAV approach appears to occupy an intermediary position between the audio-lingual method and the communicative approaches that were to appear towards the mid-seventies and later. There is on the one hand, the idea of a clear progression, determined by an analysis of the language to be used, the presentation of language in specially written dialogues, and the use of structural drills and repetition, while on the other hand, there is the belief that language must be placed within a context within which it will be meaningful. This method was quite effective in teaching learners to converse with native speakers, but did not allow them to understand natives speaking among themselves, or to read complex material. This appears to have been because the dialogues were kept simple, and concentrated on the language to be learned, rather than offering a realistic sample of what the learner might actually

hear if she were to visit the country. It also appears that the programs gave very little insight into the culture or daily life of countries in which the language is spoken. For instance Lennberg said, Just repeating the same things is not a way to start learning a language. However, Guberin said, The multiple sensibility, especially of the eyes and ears, is the main media for a cerebral integration on structural principles... The structural image of reality and the structural image of the language are best transmitted if we make some influence on the ears and eyes. On the statement of Gargarin, Lenneberg just said that it is not known what the connection in a human body is for picking up language. Nowadays, there are many arguments led by famous authors and linguists whether this approach is valid or not. The SGAV approach cannot be seen as a universal approach for learning foreign languages, but it brought about a change in language teaching classes. Some of the limits of SGAV are: according to some strict principles in SGAV, the choice of linguistic materials which can be successfully used is limited. Those materials have to be so simple and accurate so that it can be visualized. They have to contain frequent used phrases so that the students do not feel any pressure for memorising of phrases which are rarely used. The phrases must not be long. The themes done in class must not interfere (on the sociolinguistic plan) in the concepts of the students culture, if we want to avoid explanations in their mother tongue. So, we can see that this approach is very limited. The practical use of SGAV has shown the best results among from the age of five till they reach puberty.