The Grammar Translation Method
Howatt in his book, The Empirical Evidence for the Influence of L1 in Interlanguage (1984: 98) points out The Classical Method (Grammar translation Method) was originally associated with the teaching of Latin and – to a much lesser extent – ancient Greek. The aim of teaching Latin and Greek was (and is) obviously not so that learners would be able to speak them. The aims were/are rather to develop : • Logical thinking
• Intellectual capacities to attain a generally educational and civilizing effect • An ability to read original texts in the languages concerned , at least in the better learners. Interestingly, Howatt (1984: 131) also states: “Grammar and Translation are actually not the distinctive features of GT, since they were already well-accepted as basic principles of language teaching. What was new was the use of invented, graded sentences rather than authentic literary texts in order to make language learning easier.” Key features
According to Prator and Celce-Murcia in Teaching English as a Second Foreign Language (1979:3), the key features of the Grammar Translation Method are as follows: 1) Classes are taught in the mother tongue, with little active use of the target language. 2) Much vocabulary is taught in the form of lists of isolated words. 3) Long elaborate explanations of the intricacies of grammar are given. 4) Grammar provides the rules for putting words together, and instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words. 5) Reading of difficult classical texts is begun early.
6) Little attention is paid to the content of texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical analysis. 7) Often the only drills are exercises in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue. 8) Little or no attention is given to pronunciation. Typical Techniques
Diane Larsen-Freeman, in her book Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching (1986:13) provides expanded descriptions of some common/typical techniques closely associated with the Grammar Translation Method. The listing here is in summary form only.
1) Translation of a Literary Passage (Translating target language to native language)
2) Reading Comprehension Questions (Finding information in a passage, making inferences and relating to personal experience) 3) Antonyms/Synonyms (Finding antonyms and synonyms for words or sets of words). 4) Cognates (Learning spelling/sound patterns that correspond between L1 and the target language) 5) Deductive Application of Rule (Understanding grammar rules and their exceptions, then applying them to new examples) 6) Fill-in-the-blanks (Filling in gaps in sentences with new words or items of a particular grammar type). 7) Memorization (Memorizing vocabulary lists, grammatical rules and grammatical paradigms) 8) Use Words in Sentences (Students create sentences to illustrate they know the meaning and use of new words) 9) Composition (Students write about a topic using the target language) Disadvantages
• The Grammar Translation Method may make the language learning experience uninspiring and boring. • The Grammar Translation Method may also left the students with a sense of frustration when they travel to countries where the studied language is used (they can’t understand what people say and have to...
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