In discussing the comparisons between these methods of teaching and learning, several characteristics have to be covered including concepts, constructs, issues and models of the methods. In this article we will discuss the comparison between the grammar translation method (GTM) that is also known as the Classical Method, that were used since ancient times, the audio-lingual method (ALM) that were developed during world war two and the ‘designer’ method of the 70’s that is Desuggestopedia.
The basic principles behind the GTM, which are focus on grammatical rules, memorisation of vocabulary and of various declensions and conjugations, translations of texts and doing written exercises, while the ALM basically were taught through habit formation where skills are learned more effectively if oral precedes written, grammar is taught inductively through analogy, not analysis like the GTM, and Desuggestopedia are somewhat unconventional where learning occurs through suggestions of materials, where the learners can choose themselves specifically what they wanted to receive, when learners are in a deeply relaxed state of consciousness where the it is induced by Baroque music.
The objectives of the GTM is to gain reading proficiency in a foreign language which learners learn for the sake of being scholarly and having the ability to read and write literature where it is considered superior to spoken language where languages were not being taught primarily to learn oral communication; the objectives of ALM are to gain control of structures of sound, form and order, mastery over symbols of the language where the goal is to achieve native-speaker mastery with virtually none of the grammar and translation found in traditional classes; the objectives of Desuggestopedia are that the learners are going to be delivered advanced conversational competence quickly in a suggestive manner where they are required to master prodigious lists of vocabulary pairs, although the goal is understanding, not memorisation.
The activities of the GTM includes reading and translating difficult classical Latin or Greek literary passages early on in the learning, reading comprehension questions, cognates, synonyms/antonyms, deductive application of rule, fill-in-the-blank, memorisation, use words in sentences, composition based upon some aspect of the reading passage and elaborate explanations on the topic that is learned; the ALM’s activities includes dialogue memorisation, repetition drill, single-slot substitution drill, chain drill, transformation drill, minimal pairs, complete the dialogue and grammar games; Desuggestopedia activities’ includes learners taking initiatives themselves, having question and answer sessions, role-play: pretending to be another person/acting out, listening exercises under deep relaxation with Classical music being played in the background.
The roles of learners in the GTM is that they are imbeciles and therefore they just have to follow the instructions given and just receive what is being given by the teachers, where else the ALM is more or less the same but learners are treated as organisms that can be directed by skilled training techniques to produce correct responses, while learners in Desuggestopedia must maintain a passive state and allow the materials to work on them where they are encouraged to as ‘childlike’ as possible, yielding all authority to the teacher and sometimes assuming the roles (and names) of native speakers of the foreign language. Meanwhile, teachers’ roles in the GTM are like tyrants or fascists where they have all the authority and that student should get the correct answer although not all users of this method are like that. It remains popular as it required few specialised skills on the part of the teachers because tests of grammar rules and translations are easy to construct and can be objectively scored; while teachers in ALM are also central and active where they are dominating. They are like orchestra leaders where they provides models for learners to follow, controls direction and pace of the class, and also conducting, guiding, and controlling the students' behavior in the target language. On the other hand, teachers’ using Desuggestopedia are to create situations in which the learner is most suggestible and present material in a way most likely to encourage positive reception and retention. While learners give full authority to them, they must provide security for the students. They also have to exude confidence.
The materials used in the GTM are books and journals of Classical origin in Latin or Greek while the ALM uses tapes and visuals where the language labs are often used. Meanwhile Desuggestopedia consists of texts, tapes, classroom fixtures and music. The native language are used in teaching using the GTM while the ALM only permitted very little use of the mother tongue which is the same with Desuggestopedia where the native language are used sporadically and only when it is needed to make corrections. The learning in the GTM are quite tedious and little motivation are given to go beyond grammar analogies, translations and rote exercises which the ALM counters by stressing the importance of communications while Desuggestopedia suggests fun activities in the classroom. An overview of all the three methods is that the GTM can be defined as learning ‘the’ language, not how to use the language where else the ALM focuses on intensive oral learning with little use of reading and writing while Desuggestopedia is a different thing altogether because it utilised the power of the human brain and the subconscious effort of learning.
To choose the best method and to apply it in schools is impossible because although the strengths are there, the weaknesses are also present, as translating and reading only will not improve the real world situation, and communication alone, while it is not bad, are not sufficient enough for learners to survive. Desuggestopedia, on the other hand, while interesting and fun, the practicality is an issue that teachers must face where music and comfortable chairs are not available. Therefore, teachers have to combine elements from all the methods and try to create a new method which is suitable ad effective for them to teach but also suitable and effective for the learners and the general views of the surroundings.