Audiolingual MethodRichards & RogersChapter 4HistoryBefore World War II there were three methods:a) A modified direct method approach;b) A reading approach;c) A reading-oral approach.However, there were some problems with the three methods mentioned above.
First of all, they lacked standardization of vocabulary and grammar. Besides, no one could agree what was important to teach for students of different levels: beginners, intermediate, advanced. Basically, they lacked structure. World War II changed everything. The US government needed people who were fluent in German, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Malay and other languages to work as interpreters, code-room assistants, and translators.
Therefore the government asked American universities to create foreign language programs for military personnel. The goal was for the learners to become conversationally proficient in several languages. The Army Specialise Training Program (ASTP) was started in 1942. The Army ‘Method’ and Leonard Bloomfield at Yale University came up with the idea where native speakers acted as an informant of the language and as a linguist. Students and informants gradually learned a language. The ASTP continued for two years and attracted a lot of attention.
By the 1950s, as a result of many factors, Audiolingualism became a standardized way of teaching a language. Dr. Charles Fries at the University of Michigan developed the first English Language Institute in the US. This was the first program to focus on both the teaching and learning of English as a second/foreign language. Dr.
Fries rejected the Direct Method and instead applied the principles of structural linguistics to language teaching. Grammar was the focal point, combined with pronunciation and intensive oral drilling of basic sentence patterns. The Soviet satellite in 1957 made the US government realize the need for foreign language teaching. The National Defence Education Act (1958) provided money for the training of teachers, the development of teaching materials and for the study and analysis of modern languages.
The term Audiolingualism was coined by Professor Nelson Brooks (1964). Many colleges and universities offered foreign language classes taught by teachers using this method. In the 1960s, Audiolingualism began to lose its popularity, but it is still used today.