Aufgeklärte Einsprachigkeit. Zur Entdogmatisierung der Methode im Fremdsprachenunterricht

von Wolfgang Butzkamm

Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer; 19782.

"I was brought up on the tenets of the direct method: the first language was to be banished from the classroom. The more absent it was, the better the lesson. But life in the classroom was different. Despite my monolingual exertions students did not understand - an experience that was I suspect, shared by other teachers. This might explain the immediate topicality of Butzkamm's first book: Aufgeklärte Einsprachigkeit. The title means something like 'Enlightened Monolingualism" and in German methodology has become almost a stock phrase. 'Enlightened' because, Butzkamm claims, the principle of pretending that the learner's first language does not exist has become an unfounded dogma.
In the subtitle of the book he therefore promises to take the dogma out of methodology. This is done through historical enquiry (something quite extraordinary in 1973 and eleven years before Howatt's History of English Teaching). Butzkamm sifts through a century's evidence, from Reform Movement to audiolingualism, and finds that the profession is much more open-minded towards bilingual approaches than commonly assumed. He has unearthed long-buried studies from the 1920s which developed both a theory and a methodology for making reasonable use of the first language in foreign language teaching. Inspired by Dodson's (1967) work on the bilingual method he has tried to revive this tradition in current practice and has argued against the Zeitgeist - which advocated large-scale method comparisons - that the bilingual method should be evaluated in qualitative classroom-based research."
(Joachim Appel, ELT Journal Vol. 46/3, July 1992)