Aims, Content and Principles of Foreign Language Teaching Aims of Teaching FL
Aims are the first and most important consideration in any teaching. Hence the teacher should know exactly what his pupils are expected to achieve in learning his subject, what changes he can bring about in his pupils at the end of the course, at the end of the year, term, month, week, and each particular lesson, i.e., he should know the aims and objectives of foreign language teaching in schools. The terms ―aims and ―objectives are clearly distinguished in this work in accordance with the suggestion given by R. Roberts. Here is what he writes: ―The term ―aims be reserved for long-term goals such as provide the justification or reason for teaching second languages ... the term ―objectives‖ be used only for shortterm goals (immediate lesson goal), such as may reasonably be achieved in a classroom lesson or sequence of lessons. In this lecture we shall deal with long term goals, that is, with the aims of foreign language teaching which dictate the teacher's approach to this subject.
The changes the teacher must bring about in his pupils may be threefold:practical - pupils acquire habits and skills in losing a foreign language; educational - they develop their mental abilities and intelligence in the process of learning the foreign language; cultural - pupils extend thein knowledge of the world in which they live. Therefore there are three aims, at least, which should be achieved in foreign language teaching: practical, educational, and cultural.
Practical aims. The foreign language as a school subject differs from other subjects of the school curriculum. Whereas the teaching, for instance, of history is mostly connected with the imparting of historical laws and facts which pupils are to learn and the teaching of the mother tongue leads to the mastery of the language as a system (which is already used for exchanging thoughts and feelings) so that pupils will be able to use it more effectively in oral and written language, the teaching of a foreign language should result in the pupil's gaining one more code for receiving and conveying information; that is, in acquiring a second language for the same purpose as the native language: to use it as a means of communication.
In modern society language is used in two ways: directly or orally, and indirectly or in written form. Thus we distinguish oral language and written language. Direct communication implies a speaker and a hearer, Indirect communication implies a writer and a reader. Hence the practical aims in teaching a foreign language are four in number: hearing, speaking, reading, and writing.
When adopting the practical aims for a secondary school course the following factors are usually taken into consideration: the economic and political conditions of society, the requirements of the state; the general goals of secondary school education; the nature of the subject, and the conditions for instruction. The nature of the language should also be taken into consideration in determining the aims of language teaching. Learning a living language implies using the language of sounds, that is, speaking. Scientific research gives a more profound insight into the problem. It is not so much the ability to speak that is meant here but rather the oral treatment; in other words, the language of sounds, not of graphic signs (which is usually the case when a dead language is studied) should serve as basic means of teaching.
The length of the course, the frequency of the lessons, the size of groups should also be taken into consideration in adopting practical aims. The amount of time for language learning is one of the most decisive factors in mastering and maintaining language proficiency since learners need practice. The more time is available for pupilsí practice in the target language, the better results can be achieved. Moreover, for the formation of speech habits frequency of lessons is a more essential condition than the length of the course. It is not necessary to prove (it has already been proved) that intensive courses are more effective than extensive ones, for example, six periods a week for three years are more effective for language learning than three periods a week for six years. In our secondary schools, however, we cannot afford an intensive course because school curriculum includes a lot of essential subjects and the foreignlanguage is one of many which should be taught.
The syllabus for the eleven-year school requires that school- leavers should:
∑ read and understand a foreign text both with and without a dictionary;
∑ understand oral language and speak within the topics and material required by
∑ the syllabus;
∑ write a letter.
In foreign language learning all forms of work must be in close interrelation, otherwise it is impossible to master the language. However, attention should be given mainly to practice in hearing, speaking, and reading. Thus pupils must achieve a level in their knowledge of the language which will enable them to further develop it at an institute or in their practical work.
In conclusion it should be said that the achievement of practical aims in foreign language teaching makes possible the achievement of educational and cultural aims.
Educational aims. Learning a second language is of great educational value. Through a new language we can gain an insight into the way in which words express thoughts, and so achieve greater clarity and precision in our own communications. Even at the most elementary level learning a second language teaches the cognizance of meaning, furnishes a term of comparison that gives us an insight into the quality of language. When learning a foreign language the pupil understands better how language functions and this brings him to a greater awareness of the functioning of his own language. Since language is connected with thinking, through foreign language study we can develop the pupilís intellect. Teaching a foreign language helps the teacher develop the pupilsí voluntary and involuntary memory, his imaginative abilities, and will power. Indeed, in learning a new language the pupil should memorize words, idioms, sentence patterns, structures, and keep them in long-term memory ready to be used whenever he needs them in auding, speaking, reading, and writing. Teaching a foreign language under conditions when this is the only foreign language environment, is practically impossible without appealing to pupils' imagination. The lack of real communication forces the teacher to create imaginary situations for pupils, to speak about making each pupil determine his language behaviour as if he were in such situations. Teaching a foreign language contributes to the linguistic education of the pupil, the latter extends his knowledge of phonic, graphic, structural, and semantic aspects of language as it is through contrastive analysis of language phenomena.
Cultural aims. Learning a foreign language makes the pupil acquainted with the life, customs and traditions of the people whose language he studies through visual material and reading material dealing with the countries where the target language is spoken. Foreign language teaching should promote pupilsí general educational and cultural growth by increasing their knowledge about foreign countries, and by acquainting them with progressive traditions of the people whose language they study. Through learning a second language the pupil gains a deeper insight into the nature and functioning of language as a social phenomenon.
In conclusion it should be said that practical, educational, and cultural aims are intimately related and form an inseparable unity. The leading role belongs to practical aims, for the others can only be achieved through the practical command of the foreign language.