Kdyrsiykova Nargiza Saparbaevna

English language teacher

Aktau College

Kazakhstan,Mangystau oblast, Aktau


The bilingual method of foreign language teaching was developed by C.J. Dodson (1967) as a counterpart of the audiovisual method. This method was developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Dodson set out to make improvements to the audio-visual method (which has much in common with the direct method outlined above). The bilingual method makes use of the traditional three Pís: presentation, practice, production. 

The three Pís are the three main stages of any language lesson. First, you present material. Then you all practice together and students are expected to produce something with their new knowledge.

Principles of The Bilingual Method:

        The understanding of words and sentences in foreign languages can be made easier by the use of mother tongue.

        There is no need to create artificial situations for explaining the meaning of words and sentences of the target language.

        Bilingual method is the combination of the Direct method and the Grammar translation method.

There are 7 advantages of the bilingual method of teaching english:

1. Students become functional bilinguals

If the aim of language learning is ultimately for the student to become fully bilingual (or multilingual) then this method models this positive outcome from the very beginning. As the students begin their language learning journey, their destination is visible in their language teacher. The competence and confidence of the teacher as she moves from L1 to L2 and back again is a clear model for the student to emulate.

2. Never miss out on a lesson

Rather than being a hindrance, advocates of the bilingual method argue thatthe mother tongue of the students is the greatest resource in the language learning process. This is true particularly for those students over the age of 7 or 8, when the mother tongue has been firmly established in the studentsí minds. The bilingual method allows easy glossing of difficult words and efficient explanations of points of grammar. Time saved in this manner optimizes learning opportunities.

3. Give some love to other languages

While English, with an estimated 328 million speakers, is the third most widely spoken language in the world, itís perhaps first in terms of prestige. For this reason, students worldwide are clamoring to learn it. This is good news for English language teachers. However, there are inherent dangers for languages considered less prestigious.

4. Accessibility

The bilingual method ensures accessibility. Students beginning the daunting task of learning a new language can immediately find a level of familiarity, avoiding the terrors of that ďdeer in the headlightsĒ stage of acquiring new skills.

5. Discipline

Many fresh-faced English language teachers landing on exotic shores with a shiny new TEFL certificate struggle with this one. An oft-heard complaint among foreign teachers is that they arenít afforded the respect given to the local teachers.

6. Itís a teacherís tool, not a student crutch

Though the bilingual method employs the studentsí native language, itís important to note that itís predominantly the teacher who makes use of L1. This distinguishes it from the grammar-translation method which relies more on rote learning and the translation of texts.

7. Build strong foundations for reading, right from the start

As with the direct method, basic texts make use of picture strips to accompany the dialogue. The bilingual method makes use of the written form of the language from the start. This allows students to begin to see the shapes of words as they repeat them orally.

Since the bilingual teacher is a model for the goal of students to develop into users of two languages, this recognition supports the teacher using the students' native language strategically when it would be futile to explain things in the target language. While monolingual teachers are more liable to strictly enforce L2 use, it is frustrating to a learner or a child to hear something that is too difficult, so L1 support can be part of their overall language development.

        Bilingual education, focusing on the medium of instruction, clarifies the effectiveness of content-based language teaching and other methods, so language teachers can evaluate educational options such as mainstream, ethnic, international, or bilingual schools.

        Finally, bilingualism sheds light on language acquisition, how research on first language acquisition, bilingual acquisition, and bilingual education informs L2 teaching. Seeing the whole picture from a bilingual perspective, from the societal to the individual level, informs one's approach to teaching and communication.

Reflecting on these and other insights from bilingualism can make a difference in everyday decisions in practice as well as in cultivating theories to undergird one's language teaching.



1.    Alexander, L. R. (1978) An Introduction to the Bilingual Method of Teaching Foreign Languages. In: Foreign Language Annals, 11: 305Ė313. doi: 10.1111/j.1944-9720.1978.tb00043.x

2.    Caldwell, John A.W. (1990) "Analysis of the theoretical and experimental support for Carl Dodsonís bilingual method" In: Journal of multilingual and multicultural development, 11.6, 459-479.

3.    Kaczmarski, S. P. (1979) "A bilingual approach to foreign language teaching" In: Glottodidactica 12, 127 Ė 136.

4.    Sastri, H.N.L. (1970) "The Bilingual Method of Teaching English Ė an Experiment" In: RELC Journal, 2, 24-28.

5.    Baker, C. (2006). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (4th ed.). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

6.    Lightbown, P. & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.