Edited by Richard Smith and Tim Giesler
[AILA Applied Linguistics Series 20] 2023
► pp. 122–136
In the context of language education, innovation seems a problematic concept. Although there is no doubt that teaching methods have changed in the 200 or so years that modern foreign languages have been taught in schools, it is usually highly debatable that they were as “new” as claimed when they were introduced. One example is the “Direct” methodology promoted by protagonists of the late 19th-century Reform Movement, which had in fact already been in use before the 1880s – language teachers for girls and for future merchants, for example, had already been focusing on functional aspects at the grassroots level because this served needs in these specific contexts well. They, in turn, had not “invented” these methods but had drawn upon long functional traditions. Secondly, at roughly the same time, modern language teacher education was becoming professionalized and some former teachers went into teacher training or were named to one of the new university chairs for modern foreign language teaching. Justifying and promoting their ideas, they neglected (or simply forgot about) the traditions that had given rise to them.