Audio-Lingual Method


In the time of 1950s and 1960s, the Audio-Lingual Method was one of the dominant methods in the field of education. The audio-lingual method focuses on audio-lingual skills instead of reading and writing with extensive practice patterns. This method is also a method of foreign language teaching. Students learn language by repeating or imitating the dialogues of everyday situations. There is a need for a drill chain to learn the language through this method.

The audio-lingual method is an aural oral approach. Charles fries introduced this aural oral approach. According to him, a language can be taught by using a series of intensive basic pattern’s oral drilling. This audio-lingual method gives more importance to pronunciation and intonation.

The audio-lingual method also has a lot of similarities with the direct method. These two methods were introduced in opposition to the Grammar Translation Method. Both methods rejected the use of mother tongue and stressed speaking and learning competencies followed the reading and writing competencies. The audio-lingual method emphasizes grammar drills and the direct method which focuses on vocabulary teaching.

This method based on two things:

  • Structural view of language
  • Behaviorist theory of language learning

Structural View of Language

In the 1950s American linguists derived a view of audiolingualism. This view of audiolingualism came to be known as structural linguistics. In the 1950s linguistics was also flourishing at that time as an academic discipline. The structural theory of language was its backbone.

Structural view of language has the following related elements:

  • Phonological units
  • Grammatical units
  • Lexical items

The above-mentioned units and items are used for the meaning transmission.

Behaviorist Theory of Language Learning

Behaviorist psychology has a significant impact on the audio-lingual method. This psychology states that people are conditioned and learn many forms of behavior, including language. Behaviorist psychology knows the secrets of all human learning languages. Behaviorism is based on three main elements of learning:

  • Stimulus
  • Response
  • Reinforcement

If we relate these mentioned above elements to foreign language learning then it means:

  • Stimulus: Information about foreign language
  • Response: Students’ reaction on presented material
  • Reinforcement: Natural self-satisfaction of using target language

History of Audio-Lingual Method

If we look at the history, audio-lingual had 2 main steps and also 2 phases:


  • Army Method which was based on Leonard Bloomfield’s technique (informant method) of memorizing and repetition of patterns of simple foreign language was the 1st step towards audio lingual method. Leonard Bloomfield was one who trained to speak the language. He did not even know the language. He just absorbed the basic structure from native speaker.
  • The 2nd step towards audio lingual method was Aural oral approach. Charles Fries invented this approach.


1st Phase

During the 2nd world war, this audio-lingual method was introduced in the US. At that time government desperately needed a special program of language training to supply the war with language trainers. So for military personnel government ordered American universities to develop foreign language programs. In 1942 this program was established. Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) was its first name. Then it was called Informant Method. Later on, due to its association with the army, it was called Army Method.

2nd Phase

At the end of the 1950s, there was increased attention towards foreign language teaching in educational institutions. So, educational planners developed a new teaching method based on Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), structural linguistics and behaviorist theory. The combination of these 3 approaches also led to the development of the Audio lingual method. In 1964 professor Nelson Brooks coined this term. North American colleges and universities widely adopted this method for foreign language teaching.

Decline of Audio Lingual Method

In the 1960s many linguists criticized the audio-lingual method. They claimed that:

  • Its theoretical foundation was weak.
  • Students were unable to use skills in real communication which they learned in the classroom.

Chomsky in 1966 criticized the main base of the audio-lingual method which was behaviorist theory. After Chomsky’s Grammar-Translation Method, the audio-lingual method eventually loses its popularity and leads to crises in the American language teaching system.

Principles of Audio Lingual Method

Learning principles that became the psychological foundation of Audiolingualism and shape its methodological practices are following:

  • Foreign language learning comes in mechanical habit formation process.
  • Language skills in spoken form learned more effectively. Aural oral training helps in development of other language skills.
  • Analogy which involves the process of generalization and discrimination also provides a better foundation for language learning than analysis.
  • Meaning of words in a language cannot be learned in isolation. It can be learned only learned in linguistic and cultural context.

Characteristics of Audio-Lingual Method

Accurate pronunciation and grammar is the objective of the audio-lingual method. It gives the ability to learners to respond quickly and accurately in speech situations. Mastering the building blocks and rules of language is the particular emphasis of the audio-lingual method. It was a belief that the starting point for students towards language learning was grammar. Following are some characteristics of this method:

  • There is a process of habit formation in this method.
  • In this method mistakes should avoide.
  • This method is about language skills which presented orally first then in written form.
  • Drills are used to learn structural patterns.
  • Memorization of set phrases with focus on intonation.
  • There is a Minimum grammar explanation in this method.
  • Pronunciation and intonation is the main focus of this method.
  • This method also use audio visual aids.
  • Audio-lingual method teach context vocabulary.

Types of Activities used in Audio-Lingual Method

The main distinctive feature of the Audio lingual method was using drills and practice patterns. Activities used by this method are following:

1. Repetition:

When students repeat an utterance again and again then while repeating he adds more words to it.

Example: Ali used to know him. –Ali used to know him. –Ali used to know him years ago..

2. Inflection:

While repeating a sentence when one word appears in another form then inflection will take place.


  • He bought the ice cream. –She bought the ice cream.
  • The boy went for a walk. -The girl went for a walk.

3. Replacement:

When one word is replaced by another word in a sentence then it is called a replacement.


  • He bought this apartment cheap. –He bought it cheap.
  • Maria left early. –She left early.

4. Restatement:

When the student rephrases the statement and then according to instructions addresses it to someone else.


  • Asked him how old he is? –How old are you?
  • That girl has way too much jewelry. -Expensive jewelry, on her wrist!

5. Completion:

The student hears an utterance that is complete except for one word and then while repeating the utterance in completed form.


  • I’ll go my way and you go … -I’ll go my way and you go yours.

6. Transposition:

When a word is added in a sentence then it is necessary to change the word order, then transposition will take place.


  • I’m hungry. /so/ -So am I.

7. Contraction:

Contraction takes place when a single word that can replace the phrase or clause..


  • Put your hand on the table. –Put your hand there.

8. Transformation:

Transforming the sentence by changing its tense, mood, voice, aspect, morality, or made it negative or interrogative.


  • He knows my address. –He doesn’t know my address.

9. Integration:

Integration takes place when two separate sentences are incorporated or combined into one sentence.


  • They must be honest. This is important. –It is important that they be honest.

10. Rejoinder:

The rejoinder is a quick reply in the following ways: Polite, agree, disagree, witty, surprise, etc.


  • (Polite) Thank you. You’re welcome.
  • (Question)What is your name? My name is Sam.
  • (Agree) He’s following us. –I think you’re right.

11. Restoration:

Restoration is one that still keeping the meaning in the provided sequence of words. This sequence of words is pulled from a sentence. The main purpose of this term is to learn how to build a sentence using word sequence.


  • kids/waiting /school bus. –Kids are waiting for school bus.

12. Expansion:

A word that takes a certain place when it adds to the sentence sequence is called expansion.


  • I know him. (hardly). –I hardly know him.
  • I know him. (well). –I know him well….

Teacher Role in Audio-Lingual Method

A teacher is like an orchestra leader in the audio-lingual method. He leads the students in language learning and is responsible for providing the students with a good imitation model.

Being a model of a target language teacher is responsible for helping students to overcome the habits of the native language by comparing it with the target language. What material the teacher provides is the only source of the target language. A teacher is responsible to give the cultural information of the target language to their students. He should guide the students by skilled training techniques so that they can produce correct answers.

Students’ outcome depends on how teachers direct the lesson to them. In the beginning, students cannot understand the learning material quickly so teachers must provide varieties of drills and tasks to keep learners motivated. We cannot blame the method if students fail in getting the target outcome because there many other reasons like for instance:

  • Teacher is not providing sufficient materials and its practice.
  • Students are not memorizing and practicing the essential structure and patterns.

Here are some principles which a teacher should use while using the audio-lingual method:

  • He should use less vocabulary till the time when students will learned the simple structures.
  • Teach new vocabulary only from the context.
  • Teach the structure of second language without explanation rather memorizing the patterns of sound, order and form.

Student Role in Audio-Lingual Method

Students’ role is like an imitator in the audio-lingual method. He has to imitate what is being taught or said by the teacher or tape. Students should follow what is being directed by the teacher and respond rapidly.

Learners should focus and careful in imitating or repeating the instructors’ intonation and pronunciation.

Roles of instructional materials

Following are some roles of instructional material in the audio-lingual method:

  • First role is that audio lingual materials should be teachers oriented.
  • Second role is that in early learning stages, student’s textbook should be suspended.
  • Third role is that the other materials like reading and writing should gradually introduced when students will be able to memorize and produce simple patterns of language.

Advantages of Audio Lingual Method

There are many advantages of the audio-lingual method some of them are following:

  • Audio lingual was first method that has a theory.
  • Through this method large group of ordinary people can learn language.
  • It was the first method which gave importance to the development of language syntax while other methods just focus on morphology and vocabulary.
  • This method was the first language learning method which has a base on solid theory of language learning.
  • It highlights the everyday cultural traits of target language.
  • It works on listening and speaking skills.

Disadvantages of Audio Lingual Method

There are some disadvantages of this method which are following:

  • There is no creativity in this method.
  • Students only imitate and memorize the instructions which they don’t understand.
  • in this method techniques are boring tedious and cause fatigue.
  • There are many students in one class
  • It demands over learning.
  • Theoretical foundation of this method is insufficient.
  • Students are passive learners. They have little control over learning.
  • It is also a teacher dominant method.
  • This method is only focus on language form not meaning.
  • Audio lingual method emphasis on accurate fluency.


The main goal of using dialogues and drills in the audio-lingual method is to develop students’ communicative competence. Dialogues and drills lead the students to produce speech that is effective for foreign language teaching. So, in spoken language repeating dialogues and drills, will help students to react accurately and quickly.

This theory has such a solid theoretical base which is the main reason for its acceptability. This is the first language learning method that focuses and puts stress on learner’s communicative competence. Though this method has a positive side but the practice of this theory failed because of its scientific credibility. However, although in a limited scope but still this theory influence and used in language teaching methodology.

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