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Methods 0f Foreign Language Teaching and Its Relation to Other Sciences
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Methods 0f Foreign Language Teaching and Its Relation to Other Sciences
'Methods of foreign language teaching is understood here as a body of .scientifically tested, theory concerning the teaching f foreign languages in schools and other educational institutions. It covers three main problems: (1) aims of teaching a foreign language; 2) content of teaching, i. e. what to teach to attain the aims; (3) methods and techniques of teaching, i. e. how to teach a foreign language to attain the aims in the most effective way.
Methods of foreign language teaching is closely related other sciences such as pedagogics, psychology, physiology, linguistics, and some others.
Pedagogics is the science concerned with the teaching and education, of the younger generation. Since Methods also deals with the problems of teaching and education it is most closely related to pedagogics. One branch of pedagogics is called studies didactics. Didactics studies general, ways of teaching in schools. Methods, as compared to didactics, the specific ways of teaching a definite subject.
Teaching a foreign language means first and foremost formation and development of pupils' habits and skills in hearing, speaking, reading, and writing. We cannot expect to develop such habits and skills of our pupils effectively if we do not know and take into account the psychology of habits and skills, the ways of forming them, the influence of formerly acquired habits on the formation of new ones, and many other necessary factors that psychology can supply us with. At present we have much material in the field of psychology which can be applied to teaching a foreign language. For example, N. I. Zhinkin, a prominent psychologist in his investigation of the mechanisms of speech came to the conclusion that words and rules of combining them are most probably dormant in the kinetic center of the brain. When the ear receives a signal it reaches the brain, its hearing center and then passes to the kinetic center. Thus, if a teacher wants his pupils to speak English he must, use all the opportunities he has to make them hear and speak it. Effective learning of a foreign language depends to a great extenton the pupils' memory. That is why a teacher must know how he can help' his pupils to successfully memorize and retain in memory the language material they learn. Here again -psychological investigations are significant. For example, the Soviet psychologist, P. K- Zinchenko, proved that in learning a subject both voluntary and involuntary memory is of great importance. In his investigation of involuntary memory- P. K- Zinchenko came to the conclusion that this memory is retentive. Consequently, in teaching a foreign language we should create favourable conditions for involuntary memorizing. P. K- Zinchenko showed that involuntary memorizing is possible only when pupils attention is concentrated not on fixing the material in their memory through numerous repetitions, but on solving some mental problems which deal with this material. To prove this the following experiment was carried out. Students of group A were given a list of words to memorize (voluntary memorizing). Students of group В did not receive a list of words to memorize. Instead, they got an English text and some assignments which made them work with these words, use them in answering various questions. During the next lesson a vocabulary test was given to the students of both groups. The results were approximately the same. A test given a fortnight later proved, however, that the students of group В retained the words in their memory much better than the students of group A. This shows that involuntary memorizing may be more retentive under certain circumstances. Experiments by prominent scientists show that psychology helps Methods to determine the role of the mother tongue in different stages of teaching; the amount of rnaterial for pupils to assimilate at every stage of instruction the sequence and ways in which various habits and skills should be developed; the methods and techniques which are more suitable for presenting the material and for ensuring its retention by the pupils, and so on.
Methods of foreign language teaching has a definite relation to p h у s i о 1 о g y. of the higher nervous system.
Pavlov showed that man's higher nervous activities — speaking and thinking — are the functions of a special system of organic structures within the nervous system. This system is developed only in man. It enables the brain to respond to inner stimuli as it responds to outer stimuli or signals perceived through the sense organs. Pavlov named this the second signaling system.
Methods of foreign language teaching is most closely related to linguistics, since linguistics deals with the lexical-grammatical. Methods successfully uses, for example, the results of linguistic investigation in the selection and arrangement of language material for teaching. It is known that structural linguistics has had a great impact on language teaching. Teaching materials have been prepared by linguists and methodologists of the structural school. Many prominent linguists have not only developed the theory of linguistics, but tried to apply it to language teaching.
Methods of foreign language teaching like any other science, has definite ways of investigating the problems which may arise. They are:
(1) a critical study of the ways foreign languages were taught in our country and abroad;
(2) a thorough study and summing up of the experience of the best foreign language teachers in different types of schools;
(3) experimenting with the aim of confirming or refuting the working hypotheses that may arise during investigation.