The direct method was born out of a need for a more intuitive approach to language learning.
Supporters of the DM maintained that language learning was more than the learning of grammar rules and that learning a language could not be based only on one’s translation skills.
They believed that knowing a language meant being able to speak it, and that second language acquisition should reproduced the way first language acquisition happens.
Consequently the use of the student’s mother tongue (MT) was banned. The assumption was that children never rely on another language to learn their MT.
Utmost priority was given to the spoken word and great emphasis was placed on oral skills. The written word was to be kept away from second language learners for as long as possible. In the same way that children start reading and writing in their MT only once they have achieved a good level of oral proficiency.
The belief that a second language should be learned in the same way in which the MT is acquired promoted the idea of full immersion programs.
A full language immersion program is one in which learners spend a large portion of their day learning in a particular foreign language. The foreign language is used to teach in all other subject areas and is not a separate subject area. Teachers working in full immersion programs typically speak only the target language and never translate.