Instructional Methods/Approaches for Any Student / by Tyler Wood


There are three dominant approaches to second language instruction - The grammatical approach, the Communicative approach, and the Cognitive approach. The grammatical approach falls under the "deductive category of language. The communicative and cognitive approaches, on the other hand, correspond to the meaning-based inductive language instruction category" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 193). For a quick historical overview, and more in depth introduction, of the different methods of instruction click the button below.

Grammatical Approach in my class:

Though it seems to have lost favor in practice, this approach does have a few strategies and techniques that can work at my grade level. According to Kelly, "the instructor would present a series of questions and then subsequently answer the questions through instruction...[and] would pose questions to the students, and the students would respond with memorized answers to demonstrate their mastery of language rules (as cited in Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 197)." Though I don't believe rote memorization teaches language skills very effectively, I have had experience with it teaching pronunciation and communication confidence in L2. My last school would always put on a play, or presentation, for the parents that would be memorized, including the answers to the questions I posed. I don't agree that it was teaching them the rules of the language very effectively, I do, however, think it was useful in getting them more comfortable speaking the language with confidence and it made their fluidity and pronunciation better in the language. I admit that this is not a very strong reasoning for implementing this as a strategy in class, however. 

Communicative Approach in my class:

At my current school, we implement a form of the Intergrated Content-Based (ICB) method. Our second language (English) teaching method "emphasizes content and language objectives across subject areas (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 207)." Some of the strategies mentioned are what we have been using effectively. One such strategy is to "use visuals to support meaning (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 206)," such as using pictures to elicit ideas about the content and role-playing for creating an authentic communication experience for the students. Another example of the communicative approach is The Sheltered Instruction Method where the lessons "integrate language and content objectives into the same lesson" (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 207). These, among many others, have been effective in getting the students to use and internalize the language. 

Cognitive Approach in my class:

One idea that I have been implementing in my new school is to "account for...individual differences in learning styles by structuring alternative grouping arrangements, offering variation in the type and use of instructional materials, and modifying time frames for learning and response (Herrera & Murry, 2011, p 219)." I have given my students a learning style quiz to get an idea of how I might alter my teaching to adapt to their needs and I have been using small groupings (partner work) more to try and give the students more chances to have meaningful and relevant conversations with their peers, which brings the affective filter down so they can feel comfortable speaking and learning. 

Below is my lesson plan utilizing the cognitive approach in my class.

Tyler's Cognitive Approach Lesson Plan


Herrera, S. G.., & Murry, K.G.. (2011). Mastering ESL and Bilingual Methods. (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

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