Sunday, October 22, 2006


The Cover Page:
How do the teaching method and teaching materials of Sesame Street in Taiwan fully apply Direct Method?
By Wu, Charlene
Wenzao Ursuline College of Languages

The Contents:
I. Abstract

Despite all the strengths of the Direct Method; this old fashioned teaching pedagogy has been criticized from time to time. Surprisingly the Sesame Street Language School in Taiwan uses it fully in terms of teaching materials, procedures and principles while the other big chain English cram schools for example Joy, Hess and Giraffe only adopt Direct Method as part of their teaching methodology. And most specially is that compared to the pictured and wordy beginners’ textbooks of the other big chain English cram schools, the Sesame Street Language School does not show beginners any words in textbooks and only ask beginners to listen and to speak. Therefore we can see that the Sesame Street Language School thoroughly applies the Direct Method. Why does the Sesame Street Language School so insist on implementing the Direct Method completely without concerning its disadvantages and not just follow the other big chain English cram schools? Is using the entire Direct Method really suitable for the 7 to 13 year-old learners of English in Taiwan?

II. Purpose Statement

Due to my observation and teaching experiences in the big chain English cram schools in Taiwan, I am mesmerized by the wild using of Direct Method in the big chain English cram schools in Taiwan. And the difference of using full Direct Method and partial Direct Method makes me think the effect and suitableness of using the full Direct Method.

III . Statement of Qualification

I have taught in one of the Sesame Street Language Schools in Taiwan before and I have seen many successful cases during that time. And later I also get in touched with other different English cram schools such as Hess, Giraffe and Joy. I soon found out the differences between these English cram schools- the full and partial using of Direct Method. In my teaching years I deeply feel that the 7-13 year-old students really benefited in the full using of the Direct Method compared to the partial using of Direct Method. The students developed their direct thinking in English so they were able to follow the teachers’ orders in terms of grammar or vocabulary and sentence explanation. To my surprise there were some critics deny this and chose to against the full using of the Direct Method.

IV. Review of the Literature

Gouin was the beginner of the Direct Method. The philosophy of this methodology is making foreign language learning like mother tongue learning. And because of that the Direct Method sometimes was called a “natural” method. The Direct Method believes that language learners can acquire the meaning through demonstration and action without translation. And the learned words can be used to teach new words. L. Sauveur (1826-1907) later used natural principles and made a strong emphasize on oral interaction. He opened a language school in Boston and his method quickly became the Natural Method. F. Franke even indicated that the foreign language is best taught in using it intensively in class. The Direct Method was quite popular in France, Germany and the United States. Regardless of the success and supports of the Direct Method, there are still controversies and criticism upon it. For example, Nagel Mark (1998) has mentioned that despite the students can understand the meaning of words from the pictures but they still add Chinese definition to the English words. In order not to let the students get the wrong meaning of words, and translate words by words; it would better for the teachers to translate straight for them. Moreover the Direct Method forbid the students to use Chinese even when is asking questions so many students often are unable to make questions when they have problems about grammar due to their deficiencies of English. Consequently they cannot always get the answers from asking. (pp.51-52). Jack C. Richards & Theodore S. Rodgers (1986) also said that Direct Method over emphasizes and twist the similarity between the natural mother tongue learning and the foreign language learning. Furthermore, the Direct Method lacks for the reality in the classroom and the foundation of applied linguistics theory (p.10). Kuo, Yun-Chen in his research has stated that sometimes a short explanation in mother tongue is the efficient way to the students questions but the teachers of the Direct Method ask the students to avoid using their mother tongue. In that way the teachers spend more time on the unimportant meaning of words and miss the purpose of the communication of meaning.

V. Description of my research methods

This paper will examine the ways how the Sesame Street Language School applies the Direct Method and also the result of it. The Method section will explore how the 7-13 year-old students learn in listening, speaking, reading and writing four different ways in the Sesame Street Language School and also the 7-13 year-old students in one of the big chain English cram schools in Taiwan. The Subjects section will examine the 7-13 year-old students who study and have the highest level in the Sesame Street Language School and one of the big chain English cram schools in Taiwan. The Procedures section examines the learning result in these two English cram school— the Sesame Street Language School and one big chain English cram school. The Results section explains the result— using the Direct Method to design a completely system of teaching materials can make the Direct Method suitable for the 7-13 year-old learners of English in Taiwan. The Discussion section explores an objective analysis from the experiment— which may contains the possible existing weakness of using full Direct Method and the ways may be improved or my personal criticize and thought.

VI. References

Jack, C. R., & Theodore, S. R. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. The United States of America: Cambridge University Press

Kuo, Yun-Chen. The Use of Mother Tongue in Second Language Class. Retrieved, from

Nagel, Mark (1998). Direct Method Is Harmful For English Teaching. Kuo Chiao Tien Ti Journal. Retrieved May, 1998, from


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