Teacher educator and author Scott Thornbury was a plenary speaker at the 6th annual Future of English Language Teaching Conference (FOELT) in June 2021. Scott presented on 'Swings and Roundabouts: Where we've been and where we're going'.
The history of language teaching methods is characterized less by a steady progress from darkness into light than by a series of pendulum swings and recurring cycles. Nowhere is this more apparent than in attitudes and approaches to the teaching of grammar. Equally volatile are attitudes to the use of the learners’ L1, and to the accuracy vs. fluency polarity. In this talk, I will review the history of language teaching methods from this cyclical perspective, and attempt to tease out some of the key dimensions along which different methods can be grouped. At the same time, I will dare to predict the next swing of the pendulum, and/or spin of the roundabout.