The Second Language Teaching Dilemma
The 1880s constitute a significant period in the history of language education. That was the decade in which a group of teachers initiated a grassroots movement, known as the Reform Movement, that changed the course of language teaching in a radical way. The objective of those educational “reformers” was to tackle head-on the conceivable reasons why students of languages at school seemed invariably to experience so many difficulties and, by the end of a course of study, to achieve such low levels of proficiency. Why is it, they asked, that language learning in a classroom environment is such a challenging and generally unproductive experience, especially when compared to how easily and naturally the native language is acquired during infancy and childhood? The reformers believed that this predicament was not connected, in any way whatsoever, to any diminished ability to learn languages after childhood, but rather to the archaic language teaching method being used in the schools at the time—the so-called Grammar-Translation Method.