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According to Gleason,Language is one of the most important and characteristics form of human behavior.”

There are many languages in the world. It is believed that about 1600 languages and dialects are spoken in India. Though the origin of languages is obscure yet it is an established fact that language is a medium through which one can express ideas, thoughts and feelings. Thus, it is a method of human communication. It is a medium through which most knowledge is constructed and it helps in uniting thoughts and identities of the individuals.

As mentioned above, India shows linguistic diversity. In India languages from all the language families of the world are spoken. These families include Indo-European (e.g. Hindi, Gujarati, English), Dravidian (e.g. Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam), Tibeto-Burman (e.g. languages of Eastern India), Austro Asiatic (e.g. languages in Jharkhand and Central Asia) and Andamanese. This linguistic diversity poses complex challenges along with a range of opportunities. Different languages have coexisted in India from time immemorial enriching each other.

Characteristics of a Language

  • The characteristics of a language are as follows:
  •  It acts as a means of communication
  • It is symbolic and dynamic.
  • It is a structured and unique system
  • It is a form of social behavior.
  • It is a medium of instruction
  • It is a carrier of civilization and culture

A language should possess the above-mentioned characteristics, but cry of a child is a sign language.

Principles of Language Teaching

While teaching a language, an instructor (teacher) should follow the following principles:

1. Principle of Motivation

  •  It is the core of language teaching,
  • It plays an important role in the development of a language.
  • It is a pre-requisite to learn a language.
  • Different techniques should be adopted to motivate the learners such as
  •  Arousing technique
    -Learners do not show enthusiasm every time. Thus they should be aroused from the state of anxiety, frustration or inactiveness. This can be done by the use of visual devices or audio visual devices or game like exercise.
  •  Expectancy technique

-Goals of teaching-learning process should be made clear to the learners. This will create expectancy among them to achieve the goal.

  •  Incentive technique

-Incentive techniques such as praise, prize, commendation or punishment should be adopted to motivate the learners.

2. Principle of Habit Formation

According to Palmer, “language learning is essentially a habit- forming process, i.e. a process during which we acquire new habits.”
• As we master other skills after regular practice, language can also be mastered after regular practice.
• In mother tongue, habits are formed unconsciously while in foreign language it is formed consciously
• In language learning, habits of speech, listening, reading, writing, correct spellings and pronunciation and reading other books should be formed.

3. Principle of Imitation

• A child learns quicker by imitation.
• He/she learns his/her mother tongue by imitation from his/her parents, relatives and teachers.
• A child imitates his teacher very much. Thus, the teacher must become a good role model for the children
• A child learns a language very well when it is taught in a meaningful.
•Tape-recorder gramophone radio and can also be used for the said purpose.


4. Principle of Oral Approach

  • It is the quickest way of learning.
  • Speech motivates the learners to learn.
  • Introduction of lessons should be gin with speech lessons because speech is vital in language learning
  • Speech must precede reading and writing

5. Principle of Practice and Drill

  •  It is said that practice makes a man perfect
  •  As mentioned above language is a habit forming process and habit comes from practices
  •  Sufficient practice and drill should be provided to the learners.
  •  Repetitions things at proper intervals should be done.

6. Principle of Natural Order of Learning

  • Listening, speaking, reading and writing are four basic skills of a language.
  • These skills should be taught in their natural order i.e., LSRW, because a child first listens to the sounds of a language, speaks and then starts reading and writing

7. Principle of Situational Approach

  • It is a natural way of teaching a language.
  • A situation can be created with the help of object, pictures, gestures and actions.

8. Principle of using Mother Tongue

  • Many linguists are against the use of mother tongue in teaching foreign language
  •  But according to P. Gurrey, the teaching mother tongue and teaching a foreign language can support and assist each other.
  •  Learners become reluctant and de- motivated when mother tongue is not used in the class. This problem can be solved by adopting different methods and strategies which make learning a more challenging
  • Inputs from the target language in a simple, graded manner can help in minimizing the influence of mother tongue.
  • On the whole use of mother tongue can facilitate the acquisition of foreign language

9. Principle of Individual Difference and Adoption of Multiple Approach

  • It is an established fact that no two individuals are alike in their attitudes and aptitudes.
  •  Individual difference can be due to social, cultural and economic aspects
  •  Teacher should adopt different tactics, strategies and multiple approaches to make learning meaningful
  •  We have to keep in mind that what is taught is not what is learnt because learners possess different abilities, personalities and belong to different backgrounds.
  •  Stimulus need of learners belonging to different background is different. A economically poor student needs more stimulus whereas economically sound student needless stimulus.

10. Principle of Selection and Gradation

  •  Simple and concrete objects/materials should be taught first and then complex and abstract things i.e., one should proceed from simple to complex and concrete to abstract.
  •  Essential vocabulary and basic structure of a language should be taught first. Selection and gradation of vocabulary and structure should depend on their frequency, usefulness, teach ability and difficulty level.
  •  A small amount of material should be introduced first and then its quantity should be increased  For example, first two-letter words, then three-letter words and then four-letter words should be taught.
  •  Vocabulary used in daily life should be taught first.

11. Principle of Readiness

  •  Learning is meaningful only when learners are ready to learn it.
  •  Sometimes learners are unable to show interest in learning due to the state of anxiety, frustration or inactiveness
  •  Learners should be made ready by the following the methods
  • Telling a story
  •  Conducting an interesting activity
  •  Using visual or audio-visual devices
  • Performing games like exercises

12. Principle of Exposure to the Language

  •  Learners should be exposed to the language familiar environment so that they get maximum opportunities to listen and speak.
  •  This environment can be created by
    • Using audio or audio-visual devices
    • Forming language clubs
    • Distributing pamphlets
    • Displaying charts etc.
  •  Use of mother tongue should be minimized or avoided.
  •  This will provide natural environment for learning a language.

13. Principle of Correlation with Life

  •  To make learning more meaningful, as far as possible, the subject matter should be correlated with life
  •  It should be correlated with the customs, traditions, etc. of the society to which learners belong.

14. Principle of Accuracy and Correctness

  •  Correct and accurate words should
    be used to explain the content.
  •  Accuracy of pronunciation, intonation, spelling and structure should be followed
  • Expression should also be correct and accurate.

15. Principle of Group work

  • Human beings are social animals.
  • Humans learn more when they work in group
  • Group activity helps in transfer of information.
  • Group work/activity provides the learners opportunities to use the language in a focused manner.

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