An ELT Glossary : Inductive Approaches to Language Teaching

Deductive and Inductive are terms which refer to the way language is presented and explained in the classroom.

In an inductive approach, the examples are given first and the rules  are worked out from those examples. Since the early 20th century, most new language teaching methods have been inductive. 

However, the term inductive covers both approaches where the rules are expected to be absorbed by the brain without the need for conscious formulation (eg the Direct Method), and approaches which take the view that cognitive involvement - ie conscious understanding and formulation of rules - is useful for learning. This latter view lies, for example, behind the current emphasis on the need for "noticing" and the use of techniques such as Guided Discovery.

See also : Deductive Approach