Methods of Teaching English: Part 3

This post will continue our look at different methods to teaching English. This post is unique in that we will examine methods that are considered by many to be somewhat outside the main line of English teaching methods. The methods of this post are…

  • Community Language Learning
  • Suggestopedia
  • Total Physical Response
  • Silent Way

Community Language Learning

Community Language Learning method involves a circle of students who are attempting to speak. There is a person called the “knower”, also known as the teacher, who stands outside the circle and helps the students to articulate what they want to say. The knower helps the students by translating, suggesting, or modifying what the students are trying to say. Through this process, the students develop a basic idea of the grammar of the target language.

There is a significant lack of direction in the use of the Community Learning method. This concern has been one of the strongest complaints. In addition. students are constantly being corrected in groups, which is not appropriate in many different context.


Suggestopedia is perhaps one of the most unusual methods of teaching English. This method focuses on developing a relaxing environment in which the students emotions are made calm. The student-teacher relationship is one of a child-parent, which is disconcerting to many. During the lesson, the teacher reads a dialog with Baroque music in the background, which helps to provide a nice ambiance for the learning. The three phases of Suggestopedia are

  1. Pre-sessions-Students are informed of the topic and materials of the lesson
  2. Session-Students experience the lesson
  3. Post-session-Various elaborations of the topic are used to encourage assimilation of the text such as role playing or monologues.

It is not hard to prove that this is a unique teaching method. The teacher has an extraordinary amount of psychological influence over the students that few would consider healthy.

Total Physical Response

Total Physical Response (TPR) is a method in which the teacher tells the students in the target language to do various tasks. Examples include “run in place” or “jump up and down.” By doing the commands the students learn the language. As the students become comfortable they begin to give commands themselves.

TPR is an excellent approach for learning the basics of the conversational aspects of a language. However, deeper levels of communication and academic levels of speaking are not possible through this method alone. Initially, TPR can also be highly teacher-centered, which limits students learning at times.

The Silent Way

In the silent way, the teacher rarely speaks. Instead, they point to a phonemic chart and model the sounds. The students attempt to imitate the sound that they hear and the teacher uses gesture to indicate the accuracy of the students’ imitation. This places the burden on the students to figure out the language. When students are correct, the teacher moves to a different phoneme or word.

Lack of communication makes this approach frustrating for someone. Beyond pronunciation, this method is not widely used.


Different methods work for different people. Although these methods in this post are considered somewhat as being on the fringe of English teaching they are still useful in a variety of context. As such, it is the responsibility of the teacher to determine which methods are best for their students.

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