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Thursday, December 16, 2010


In applied linguistics, the grammar translation method is a foreign language teaching method derived from the classical (sometimes called traditional) method of teaching Greek and Latin. The method requires students to translate whole texts word for word and memorize numerous grammatical rules and exceptions as well as enormous vocabulary lists. The goal of this method is to be able to read and translate literary masterpieces and classics.

History and philosophy
Throughout Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, the education system was formed primarily around a concept called faculty psychology. In brief, this theory dictated that the body and mind were separate and the mind consisted of three parts: the will, emotion, and intellect. It was believed that the intellect could be sharpened enough to eventually control the will and emotions. The way to do this was through learning classical literature of the Greeks and Romans, as well as mathematics. Additionally, an adult with such an education was considered mentally prepared for the world and its challenges. In the 19th century, modern languages and literatures begin to appear in schools. It was believed that teaching modern languages was not useful for the development of mental discipline and thus they were left out of the curriculum. As a result, textbooks were essentially copied for the modern language classroom. In America, the basic foundations of this method were used in most high school and college foreign language classrooms and were eventually replaced by the audiolingual method among others.


Classes were conducted in the native language. A chapter in a distinctive textbook of this method would begin with a massive bilingual vocabulary list. Grammar points would come directly from the texts and be presented contextually in the textbook, to be explained elaborately by the instructor. Grammar thus provided the rules for assembling words into sentences. Tedious translation and grammar drills would be used to exercise and strengthen the knowledge without much attention to content. Sentences would be deconstructed and translated. Eventually, entire texts would be translated from the target language into the native language and tests would often ask students to replicate classical texts in the target language. Very little attention was placed on pronunciation or any communicative aspects of the language. The skill exercised was reading, and then only in the context of translation.


The method by definition has a very limited scope of objectives. Because speaking or any kind of spontaneous creative output was missing from the curriculum, students would often fail at speaking or even letter writing in the target language. A noteworthy quote describing the effect of this method comes from Bahlsen, who was a student of Plötz, a major proponent of this method in the 19th century. In commenting about writing letters or speaking he said he would be overcome with "a veritable forest of paragraphs, and an impenetrable thicket of grammatical rules." Later, theorists such as Vietor, Passy, Berlitz, and Jespersen began to talk about what a new kind of foreign language instruction needed, shedding light on what the grammar translation was missing. They supported teaching the language, not about the language, and teaching in the target language, emphasizing speech as well as text. Through grammar translation, students lacked an active role in the classroom, often correcting their own work and strictly following the textbook.


The grammar translation method stayed in schools until the 1960s, when a complete foreign language pedagogy evaluation was taking place. In the meantime, teachers experimented with approaches like the direct method in post-war and Depression era classrooms, but without much structure to follow. The trusty grammar translation method set the pace for many classrooms for many decades.

The Grammar-Translation Method

The grammar-translation method of foreign language teaching is one of the most traditional methods, dating back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was originally used to teach 'dead' languages (and literatures) such as Latin and Greek, and this may account for its heavy bias towards written work to the virtual exclusion of oral production. As Omaggio comments, this approach reflected "the view of faculty psychologists that mental discipline was essential for strengthening the powers of the mind." (Omaggio 89) Indeed, the emphasis on achieving 'correct' grammar with little regard for the free application and production of speech is at once the greatest asset and greatest drawback to this approach.

The major characteristic of the grammar-translation method is, precisely as its name suggests, a focus on learning the rules of grammar and their application in translation passages from one language into the other. Vocabulary in the target language is learned through direct translation from the native language, e.g. with vocabulary tests such as:

the house = das Haus
the mouse = die Maus

Very little teaching is done in the target language. Instead, readings in the target language are translated directly and then discussed in the native language, often precipitating in-depth comparisons of the two languages themselves. Grammar is taught with extensive explanations in the native language, and only later applied in the production of sentences through translation from one language to the other, e.g.

Do you have my book? = Hast du mein Buch?
Ich weiß nicht, wo dein Buch ist. = I don't know where your book is.

As Omaggio describes is, testing of the students is done almost exclusively through translation: "students had learned the language well if they could translate the passages well." (Omaggio 90)

Obviously, there are many drawbacks to the grammar-translation approach. Virtually no class time is allocated to allow students to produce their own sentences, and even less time is spent on oral practice (whether productive or reproductive). Students may have difficulties "relating" to the language, because the classroom experience keeps them from personalizing it or developing their own style. In addition, there is often little contextualization of the grammar -- although this of course depends upon the passages chosen and the teacher's own skills. Culture, when discussed, is communicated through means of reading passages, but there is little direct confrontation with foreign elements. Perhaps most seriously, as Omaggio points out, the type of error correction that this method requires can actually be harmful to the students' learning processes: "students are clearly in a defensive learning environment where right answers are expected." (Omaggio 91)

Despite all of these drawbacks, there are certain positive traits to be found in such a rigid environment. Although far from trying to defend or reinstate this method, I must still say: my highschool German class was almost entirely grammar-translation based, with the exception of a few dialogues from the textbook, and I don't really feel it "harmed" or even hampered my acquisition of the language -- and it certainly gave me a strong grounding in German grammar! For left-brained students who respond well to rules, structure and correction, the grammar-translation method can provide a challenging and even intriguing classroom environment. For those students who don't respond well to such structures, however, it is obvious that the grammar-translation method must be tempered with other approaches to create a more flexible and conducive methodology.

Selected Lesson Plans
Heute: Personalpronomen und possessive Adjektive

11:00 Warm up:
Wie sagt man auf deutsch:
What is your name?
My name is ....
What is your telephone number?
His name is ....

Ask for volunteers to provide the German equivalents of several stock phrases they should already know, using possessive adjectives which are already familiar to them (mein , dein , perhaps sein ). Correct if necessary, but not on pronunciation.

11:03 Exercise I (Lesen) . See attached. Have students read aloud, go through the entire passage. Then return to the beginning and, calling on students at random, have them translate the sentences into English. New vocabulary (e.g. klagen , schätzen ) can be introduced at this time (by translation). Mistakes should be corrected, with special attention paid to today's topic: personal and possessive pronouns.

11:10 Grammar explanation: personal pronouns (accusative). On chalkboard:

mein (meine, meinen) unser (unsere, unseren)
dein (deine, deinen) euer (euere, eueren)
sein (seine, seinen) ihr (ihre, ihren)
ihr (ihre, ihren) Ihr (Ihre, Ihren)
sein (seine, seinen)

Explain (in English) the use of these pronouns, and point out any discrepancies between English and German usage. Note especially the parallel formation to ein , as well as the accusative forms, and also explain the contractions (unsre , eure ).

11:15 Do exercise in DNK, p. 89 Übung 2 : students should fill in the blanks with the appropriate pronoun. If necessary, let students work individually or in pairs to complete the exercise first.

11:20 Exercise II (Sätze). Depending on level of comprehension, either call randomly to have students translate the sentences, or give them time to work quietly writing out the translations. Make sure answers are correct.

11:25 Grammar explanation: possessive pronouns. On chalkboard:

mich uns
dich euch
ihn sie
sie Sie

Explain (in English) the usage as well as the importance of distinguishing between nominative (ich , du , etc.) and accusative. Point out similarities to English: me = mich as memory aid, but warn against her ihr (but rather sie ).

11:30 Do exercise in DNK, p. 92 Übung 4: as above, students should be able to fill in the blanks with the correct possessive pronouns. Call randomly on students, making sure each has a chance to answer correctly.

11:35 Exercise III (Sätze). Again, call on students to translate the sentences into German, paying close attention to grammar. (Pronunciation is not heavily stressed.)

11:40 Exercise IV (Schreiben). Have students work quietly writing out the translation of the passage from English into German. Walk around and observe, answering questions and providing corrections where needed. If students do not finish, activity is assigned as homework.

Heute: Personalpronomen und possessive Adjektive.

I. Lesen. Lesen Sie den Text und übersetzen Sie ihn ins Englische.

Meine Familie ist sehr groß. Ich habe drei Schwestern und vier Brüder. Meine älteste Schwester heißt Claudia, und die zwei jüngeren Schwestern, Christiane und Nadine, sind Zwillinge. Sie haben am 28. Mai 1975 Geburtstag.

Mein Vater arbeitet bei einer großen Firma. Sein Chef ist sehr nett, aber mein Vater verdient nicht genug Geld. Meine Mutter klagt immer: Unsere Kinder haben keine schönen Sachen, und ihre Schuhe sind bald kaputt. Du mußt eine neue Stelle finden, wo man dich zu schätzen weiß!

Meine Mutter hat Recht: es ist nicht so leicht für uns. Mein Bruder hat morgen Geburtstag, und wir machen eine große Party für ihn. Wir haben aber keine Geschenke. Man braucht Geschenke bei einer Geburtstagsfete -- ohne sie geht es einfach nicht! Außerdem kommen viele Gäste zu der Party, und wir haben kein Essen für sie. Es ist schwer für mich, aber ich muß gestehen: ohne Geld ist das Leben doch ein Problem für uns!

II. Sätze: Personalpronomen. Übersetzen Sie die Sätze ins Deutsche.

1. How do you like my new apartment? -- I find it beautiful.
2. How do you like my new desk? -- I find it modern.
3. How do you like my new car? -- I find it excellent.
4. How do you like my two new chairs? -- I find them comfortable.
5. I love you. Do you love me?
6. I love all of you. Do you all love me?
7. Do you know him? -- No, but I know her.
8. Mr. Fischer, this book is for you.

III. Sätze: Possessive Adjektive. Übersetzen Sie die Sätze ins Deutsche.

1. Do you have my book?
2. No, but I have your pencil, your notebook and your cup.
3. Is the reporter writing all of your names down?
4. My sister is bringing her friend along.
5. Their dog doesn't like our cat.
6. Mrs. Schmidt, I need your address, please.
7. My grandfather likes to talk about his grandchildren.
8. Does your mother love her children?

IV. Schreiben. Übersetzen Sie den Text ins Deutsche.

Christmas is an important holiday for our family. On the 24th of December we make a big dinner for the whole family -- for my aunts and my uncles as well. We normally celebrate Christmas without them, but on the evening before we all eat together.

This year I need a lot of presents. My brother's birthday is the 22nd of December, so we're celebrating his birthday three days later, at Christmas. I have a tie for him, but I need something else -- maybe I should also buy a shirt for him, but I don't know his size.

For my father I have a book about Germany. Germany interests him a lot, and his favorite hobby is reading. The book is very big; hopefully my father will find it interesting.

For my two sisters I have a few toys -- they're still young, you see {=nämlich} . Their favorite toy at the moment is an old doll, but it's almost broken. So I have a new doll: her face is very pretty, and her body is made of plastic. Hopefully my sisters can't destroy it so quickly!

Application of methods used in Latin and Greek to teaching of modern languages. Rules of grammar, not the language itself, are all important. Verb declensions are set out tables, vocabulary lists to be learned, leading to translation from mother tongue into target language and vice-versa. Little or no attention to pronunciation.
Assumption was that language consists of written words and of words which exist in isolation, as though they were individual bricks which could be translated one by one into their foreign equivalents and then assessed according to grammatical rules into sentences in the foreign language.
Underlying justification for such a method rested upon belief that what should be taught was not the language itself but the faculty of logical thought and provided valuable mental discipline, equal to the classics.
  • the learner wouldacquire the skill of translating in writing from MT to FL and from FL to MT
  • spoken form of FL played very little part in the learning process
  • language was merely a deductive process: from data or a set of rules presented, learner had to create sentences in FL through transfer techniques.


1     Even if learning a language by Grammar-Translation method trained mind in logical thought, there is little evidence to suggest that this faculty is transferable to other walks of life beyond the language classroom.When is written translation of actual use to the learner? Only perhaps after school in industry, commerce, foreign correspondence, advertising, export orders - European marketBut how many pupils of modern languages will actually end up here?
2     This method gives pupils the wrong idea of what language is and of the relationship between languages. Language is seen as a collection or words which are isolated and independent and there must be a corresponding word in the native tongue for each foreign word he learns (CF present day candidates rendering of 'Quelle est !a matiere?''Je suis seize')

    Deplorable to assume that language is only acquired through translation skills, and this at the expense of oral skills (imagine disaster in, comprehensive schools with mixed ability classes)
4     Low translation standard - caused by grammaticaltechniques which force learner to deduce FL sentences 'by selecting from a multiplicity of rules and exceptions and individualised words. Inevitable that language learning process should fall down.
In 5 year 'O' level courses, candidate faced over 1000 rules, together with exceptions,  in preparation for examination based on translation.
 After 5 years learning a language, the average '0' level candidate could make up to 160 errors in translation paper and fail this part of the exam.
      In GB translation used to constitute the greater part of 'O' and 'A' level exam ( oral getting 20% and 12% respectively ). Was this really useful / - only served small minority of learners.
6     IQ of average grammar school child not high enough to cope with this method
(imagine response of mixed-ability group in comprehensive school!)

7     Prof Carl Dodson: "Any system which allows only the few to acquire true knowledge, very often in spite of the system, can no longer claim self-perpetuating power"
Language teachers -a dying breed? - lack of language teachers / lack of students beyond Yr 9!
    Worst effect of this method is on pupil's motivation. Because (s)he cannot succeed - leads to frustration, boredom and indiscipline.
Even among more able pupils who may be able to achieve a higher level of success, there is feeling that this is all there is to language learning. Not a rewarding or satisfying activity.. Language learning should be fun and bring some joy and pride in achievement with it.

Below is an example of the rigours of learning via the pure Grammar Method as illustrated by Professor Carl J Dodson.
Working through the mechanics of this imaginary language and undertaking the translation exercises shows how much this approach relies on cognitive ability.
C.J.Dodson.'Language Learning and the Bilingual Method'
1 -en
2 -a
3 -o
1 -ens
2 -ato
3 –unt
to be
If an object. is under 2 ft high from ground level, the Idiotive case is used.
If an object is 2 t over from ground level, the Imaginative case is used

A chair is always considered to be less than 2 ft high, no matter what its actual height may be.
Direct = object Illogitive

Example: The chair is under the table / Det sabla nmabro kin maldi
Translate the sentences:-
1) The book is under the chair.
2) The boy puts the book on the table.

3) The boy puts the book on the floor.

4) The boy throws the book against the ceiling.

5) The boy throws the books against the ceiling

The Grammar Translation Method

The Grammar Translation Method is the oldest method of teaching in India. It is as old as the international of English in the country. A number of methods and techniques have been evolved for the teaching of English and also other foreign languages in the recent past, yet this method is still in use in many part of India. It maintains the mother tongue of the learner as the reference particularly in the process of learning the second/foreign languages. The main principles on which the Grammar Translation Method is based are the following:
(i) Translation interprets the words and phrases of the foreign languages in the best possible manner.
(ii) The phraseology and the idiom of the target language can best be assimilated in the process of interpretation.
(iii) The structures of the foreign languages are best learnt when compared and contrast with those of mother tongue.

In this method, while teaching the text book the teacher translates every word, phrase from English into the mother tongue of learners. Further, students are required to translate sentences from their mother tongue into English. These exercises in translation are based on various items covering the grammar of the target language. The method emphasizes the study of grammar through deduction that is through the study of the rules of grammar. A contrastive study of the target language with the mother tongue gives an insight into the structure not only of the foreign language but also of the mother tongue.

1. The phraseology of the target language is quickly explained. Translation is the easiest way of explaining meanings or words and phrases from one language into another. Any other method of explaining vocabulary items in the second language is found time consuming. A lot of time is wasted if the meanings of lexical items are explained through definitions and illustrations in the second language. Further, learners acquire some short of accuracy in understanding synonyms in the source language and the target language.
2. Teacher’s labour is saved. Since the textbooks are taught through the medium of the mother tongue, the teacher may ask comprehension questions on the text taught in the mother tongue. Pupils will not have much difficulty in responding to questions on the mother tongue. So, the teacher can easily assess whether the students have learnt what he has taught them. Communication between the teacher and the learnersdoes not cause linguistic problems. Even teachers who are not fluent in English can teach English through this method. That is perhaps the reason why this method has been practiced so widely and has survived so long.

1. It is an unnatural method. The natural order of learning a language is listening, speaking, reading and writing. That is the way how the child learns his mother tongue in natural surroundings. But in the Grammar Translation Method the teaching of the second language starts with the teaching of reading. Thus, the learning process is reversed. This poses problems.
2. Speech is neglected. The Grammar Translation Method lays emphasis on reading and writing. It neglects speech. Thus, the students who are taught English through this method fail to express themselves adequately in spoken English. Even at the undergraduate stage they feel shy of communicating through English. It has been observed that in a class, which is taught English through this method, learners listen to the mother tongue more than that to the second/foreign language. Since language learning involves habit formation such students fail to acquire habit of speaking English. Thus, they have to pay a heavy price for being taught through this method.
3. Exact translation is not possible. Translation is, indeed, a difficult task and exact translation from one language to another is not always possible. A language is the result of various customs, traditions, and modes of behaviour of a speech community and these traditions differ from community to community. There are several lexical items in one language, which have no synonyms/equivalents in another language. For instance, the meaning of the English word ‘table’ does not fit in such expression as the ‘table of contents’, ‘table of figures’, ‘multiplication table’, ‘time table’ and ‘table the resolution’, etc. English prepositions are also difficult to translate. Consider sentences such as ‘We see with our eyes’, ‘Bombay is far from Delhi’, ‘He died of cholera’, He succeeded through hard work’. In these sentences ‘with’, ‘from’, ‘of’, ‘through’ can be translated into the Hindi preposition ‘se’ and vice versa. Each language has its own structure, idiom and usage, which do not have their exact counterparts in another language. Thus, translation should be considered an index of one’s proficiency in a language.
4. It does not give pattern practice. A person can learn a language only when he internalizes its patterns to the extent that they form his habit. But the Grammar Translation Method does not provide any such practice to the learner of a language. It rather attempts to teach language through rules and not by use. Researchers in linguistics have proved that to speak any language, whether native or foreign entirely by rule is quite impossible. Language learning means acquiring certain skills, which can be learnt through practice and not by just memorizing rules. The persons who have learnt a foreign or second language through this method find it difficult to give up the habit of first thinking in their mother tongue and than translating their ideas into the second language. They, therefore, fail to get proficiency in the second language approximating that in the first language. The method, therefore, suffers from certain weaknesses for which there is no remedy

Orrieux, C. (1989: 79) History of Ancient Civilizations 
 “Latin and Ancient Greek are known as “dead languages”, based on the fact that people no longer speak them for the purpose of interactive communication.  Yet they are still acknowledged as important languages to learn (especially Latin) for the purpose of gaining access to classical literature, and up until fairly recently, for the kinds of grammar training that led to the “mental dexterity” considered so important in any higher education study stream.”    
Morris, S. (1996: 12) Techniques in Latin Teaching 
 “Latin has been studied for centuries, with the prime objectives of learning how to read classical Latin texts, understanding the fundamentals of grammar and translation, and gaining insights into some important foreign influences Latin has had on the development of other European languages.  The method used to teach it overwhelmingly bore those objectives in mind, and came to be known as the Classical Method.  It is now more commonly known in Foreign Language Teaching circles as the Grammar Translation Method.” 
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)    
  • 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 struggle mightily to express themselves at the most basic level)
  • This method neither approaches nor encourages the students’ communicative competence.
 Reasons why it still used 
The Grammar Translation Method is still common in many countries – even popular.  Brown in his book Incremental Speech Language (1994) attempts to explain why the method is still employed by stating: 
“This method requires few specialized skills on the part of teachers.”  
“Grammar rules and Translation Tests are easy to construct and can be objectively scored.” 
“Many standardized tests of foreign languages still do not attempt to test communicative abilities, so students have little motivation to go beyond grammar analogies, translations and other written  exercises.”   
The Grammar Translation Method was developed for the study of “dead” languages and to facilitate access to those languages’ classical literature.  That’s the way it should stay.  English is certainly not a dead or dying language, so any teacher that takes “an approach for dead language study” into an English language classroom should perhaps think about taking up Math or Science instead.  Rules, universals and memorized principles apply to those disciplines – pedagogy and communicative principles do not.  

1.       The Grammar-Translation Method is a method of foreign or second language teaching which uses translation and grammar study as the main teaching and learning activities.
2.       At one time The Grammar-Translation Method was called Classical Method since it was first used in the teaching of the classical languages of Latin and Greek.
3.       The history of the Grammar-Translation is not fully and carefully documented.
4.       It is believed that /There is evidence that grammar analysis and translation began to be the basic procedures FLT from the 16th century, when modern languages such as French, Italian and English gained in importance as a result of political changes in Europe.
5.       In the 16th century, Latin was once a language of spoken and written communication in the Western World, and was the world’s most widely studied foreign language.
6.       It was taught through active use of Latin speech and written text without grammar analysis, since the mother tongue at that time didn’t have systematic grammar.
7.       The modern language provided one of the conditions for grammar analysis and the application of grammatical rules in translation exercises in teaching Latin.
8.       The second impetus for the procedures of grammar analysis and translation in teaching Latin come from the social needs of European countries.
9.        What was the social reason for the procedures of grammar analysis and translation in teaching Latin?
 With the development of modern languages, Latin gradually became displaced as a living language.
10.   The fundamental purpose of learning Latin was to study the classical culture, which was worshipped in the Renaissance. Students study of the foreign culture is limited to its literature and fine arts.
11.   In the Grammar-Translation, Grammar analysis and translation proved to be effective means in studying foreign culture through literary works.
12.   The trend of teaching foreign language began to swing from active use of Latin in Ancient and Medieval time to the study of the written form of Latin. In other words, it swung from “activism ” to “formalism”.
13.   Some people believed that the mind of human beings could be trained by logical analysis of the classical language, extensive memorization of complicated rules and paradigms and translation between languages.
14.   In the Grammar-Translation Method, as a modern language such as French, Italian and English began to enter the curriculum of European schools in the 18th century, they were taught using the same basic procedures that were used for teaching Latin.
15.   Only in the late 18th century did the regular combination of grammar rules with translation into the target language become popular as the principle practice technique.
16.   Most experts of foreign language teaching that the Grammar-Translation Method originated /began to become a formal language teaching method from the 18th century.
17.   In the 19th century, more experts of FLT adopted the strategy of combining grammar rules with translation.
18.   The sequential arrangement used by H. S. Ollendorff in his lesson became a standard : a statement of the rule followed by a vocabulary list and translation exercises. At the end of the course translation of connected prose passage was attempted.
19.   Johann Seidenstucker and other text book writers combined rules, vocabulary, text and sentences to be translated as the typical pattern of the Grammar-Translation Method.
20.   In the mid-19th century, Karl Ploetz in Germany adapted Seidenstucker’s French textbook for use in schools and thus the Grammar-Translation Method became the principal method of teaching modern languages in schools.

Theory of language underlying the Grammar-Translation Method

1.       Generally speaking, the Grammar-Translation Method belonged to the school of traditional linguistics.
2.       Traditional linguists believed that the written form of language was superior to the spoken form.
3.       In traditional linguists study of language, they gave priority to the written form and took words as their starting point.
4.       When discussing the rules of language, traditional linguists usually took a prescriptive approach.
5.       Traditional linguists emphasized correctness, the purity of a language, literary excellence and the use of Latin models.
6.       The theory of language underlying the Grammar-Translation Method was derived from Comparative Historical Linguistics.
7.       The result of comparison between different languages indicated that the classical languages such as Greek and Latin were very much similar to the modern Indo-European languages.
8.       In the Grammar-Translation Method, Comparative Historical Linguistics believed that all languages originated from one language and were ruled by a common grammar.
9.       In FLT, the target language was primarily interpreted as a system of rules to be observed in texts and sentences and to be related to the first language rules and meanings.
10.   In the Grammar-Translation Method, the students’ first language was maintained as the reference system in the acquisition of the target language.

Theory of learning underlying the Grammar-Translation Method

1.       The theory of learning underlying the Grammar-Translation Method was Faculty Psychology. (机能心理学)
2.       The Faculty Psychologists believed that the mind of human beings had various faculties which could be trained separately.
3.       According to the Faculty psychologists, Understanding and memorization of complicated grammatical rules of languages were regarded as important means of development mentality.
4.       Latin grammar was considered as the most logical and well-organized grammar in the Grammar-Translation Method.
5.       Viewed from the nature and purpose of education, the Grammar-Translation Method was an expression of classical humanism. The language was regarded as a body of esteemed knowledge to be learned with an emphasis on intellectual rigor.

Main features of the Grammar-Translation Method

1.       What is the focus of a Grammar-Translation classroom?  Why do you or your fellow or some teachers still use of the Grammar-Translation Method in the teaching of English?
The focus of a Grammar-Translation is / The Grammar-Translation Method emphasized the teaching of the second language grammar. Because grammar is regarded as the core of language and the teaching materials are arranged according to grammar system. So it is the main content in foreign language classrooms. The process of learning grammar is an important means of training mental abilities.
2.       The focus of Grammar-Translation classroom is teaching and practices of grammar of the target language.
3.       Most of the teaching activities such as analysis, explanation and translation serve the purpose of mastering grammatical rules.
4.       The principle practice technique is translation from and into the target language.
5.       What language skills are emphasized in the Grammar-Translation Method?
Reading and writing are the major focus / are emphasized in a Grammar-Translation classroom; little or no systematic attention is paid to speaking and listening, because literary language is considered superior to spoken language. Therefore, the language learners should study written language. The focus on understanding literary texts provides the situation in which reading and writing abilities are well trained.
6.       In the Grammar-Translation classroom, the teacher uses the native language of the students as the main medium of instruction. There is little use of the target language.
7.       In the Grammar-Translation Method, the sentence is the basic unit of language teaching and learning.
8.       In the procedures of the Grammar-Translation Method, the teacher emphasizes accuracy rather than fluency.

Objectives of the Grammar-Translation Method

1.       In the Grammar-Translation Method, the ultimate purpose of learning a foreign language is to enable the learners to read and translate its literature of the target language.
(1). Grammar-Translation is considered as a necessary preliminary to the study of literary works.
(2). Students are required to memorize grammatical rules in order to understand and manipulate morphology and syntax of the target language.
(3). The students who can translate from one language into another are considered successful language learners.
2.       The other objectives of the method are to provide students with good mental exercise that help develop their minds, and to gain a better understanding of the first language.
Techniques of the Grammar-Translation Method 教学技巧
1.       Reading: reading passages are planned around the sequenced grammatical structures and vocabulary to be studied.
The passages may be excerpted from literary works or carefully written by a compiler, including particular grammar rules and vocabulary.
2.       Translation: translation can be employed in presenting a new grammatical item, understanding a new passage, or as exercises at the end of a lesson; the materials may be written or spoken. Literal translation should be followed by free translation. Sentence translation usually takes place before passage translation.
3.       Deductive teaching of grammar (演绎法语法教学): grammar rules are taught directly by the teacher with exception to each rule noted. Then the rues are practiced through translation exercises.
4.       Analysis and comparison. In order to applying grammar rules to specific examples and to understand the reading passage, difficult sentences re analyzed in detail and compared with the first language sentence. Usually, the function of each part of sentence is clearly explained.
5.       Memorization: one of the techniques is used in the Grammar-Translation Method.
6.       Reading comprehension questions
There are three designed questions for students to answer to check the understanding of the reading passage:
(1). Questions of literal comprehension to which answers are directly and explicitly available in the text.
(2). Questions of inference which oblige the students to make inferences based on their understanding of the passage.
(3). Questions of personal response which require students to relate the passage to their own experience.
7.       Written work (书面作业):
(1). Fill-in-the-blanks is one kind of written work which requires students to fill in the blanks in a sentence or in a passage with new vocabulary items or with items of a particular grammar type.
(2). Using new words to make up sentences is another type of written work.
(3). The third is composition. Students are asked to write about a topic that is based upon some aspects of the reading passage of the lesson.
Exemplification 教学范例
1.       In a typical lesson with the Grammar-Translation Method, the main procedures can be divided into three phases.
2.       The teacher teaches the new grammar with deductive method.

Summary and Comments

1.       The Grammar-Translation Method dominated FLT from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, and in modified form, it is still widely used in some parts of the world today.
2.       The advantages of the Grammar-Translation Method:
(1). In Grammar-Translation Method, the first language is maintained as the reference system in the learning of the second language. Translation from one language to another plays a certain part in language learning. in the Grammar-Translation Method, comparison between two languages helps students to have a better understanding of the meaning of abstract words and complicated sentences.
(2). Systematic study of grammatical rules plays an important role in fostering students’ ability of reading comprehension and producing grammatically correct sentences. It has special importance for students in teachers’ colleges for whom a good mastery of the grammar system of the target language. Understanding and manipulating the morphology and syntax will develop students’ ability of analyzing and solving problems.
(3). The focus on understanding literary texts provides the situation in which reading and writing abilities are well trained.
(4). The Grammar-Translation makes few demands on teachers although it often creates frustration for students.
3.       How did the Grammar-Translation Method develop into its present form?
Before the 16th century, Latin was the language of communication in the Western World. Then in the 16th century, modern languages such as French, Italian and English gained in importance as a result of political changes in Europe. With the development of modern languages, Latin gradually became displaced as a living language. The main purpose of leaning Latin was to study the classical culture. Grammar analysis and translation proved to be effective means in study foreign culture through literary works. The mind of human beings could be trained by logical analysis of the language, extensive memorization of the complicated rules, and translation between languages. Grammar analysis and translation became the basic procedures in foreign language teaching in the 18th century. Thus the Grammar-Translation Method became the principle method of teaching modern languages in schools.
4.       What is the main technique used in a Grammar-Translation classroom?
Translation is the main technique used in a Grammar-Translation classroom. General speaking, literary translation should be followed by free translation; and sentence translation followed by passage translation. A Grammar-Translation teacher also uses the following techniques: reading passages from literary works; teaching grammar using a deductive approach; analyzing and comparing difficult sentences with students’ first language; memorizing word lists with the first language translation; and memorizing grammar rules and paradigms; using questions to check students’ comprehension of the reading passage; using fill-in-the-blank exercises, making up sentences and writing composition.
5.       What is the most important aspect of language according to the Grammar-Translation Method?
According to the Grammar-Translation Method, grammar is the most important aspect of language, which is viewed as a system of rules. Systematic study of grammatical rules plays an important role in fostering students’ ability of reading comprehension and producing grammatically correct sentences. Understanding and mastering the morphology and syntax will develop students’ ability of analyzing and solving problems.
6.       Are the techniques of Grammar-Translation acceptable to you? Why or why not?
The Disadvantage of the Grammar-Translation
I don’t think the techniques of Grammar-Translation are acceptable to us. We can find some disadvantages in the Grammar-Translation Method.
First, overemphasis on translation can never emancipate the learners from dependence on the first language.
Second, deductive teaching of grammar always starts with definition, followed by examples.
Second, The Grammar-Translation puts too much emphasis on reading and writing and neglects listening and speaking. Knowing a large number of grammatical rules can not ensure that students can use them appropriately in real communicative situation.
Third, in the Grammar-Translation Method, the texts are mostly taken form literary works. The language learned often doesn’t meet the practical needs of the learners.
 Last, memorizing grammar rules and bilingual word lists does not motivate students to actively communicate in the target language.
7.       Which of the principles of the Grammar-Translation Method are still applicable in modern language teaching and learning?
We can discover some valuable principle of the Grammar-Translation Method are still applicable in modern language teaching and learning, such as knowledge of grammar (language rules) facilitates learning. The term “grammar” is so familiar to linguists, language teachers and learners that it is sometimes difficult to stand back and look at it clearly. Some linguists have argued that grammar teaching is unnecessary, and emphasis should not be put on the teaching of grammar. On the other hand, other linguists have argued that grammar is an immensely pervasive phenomenon. It is an integral part of language, so that the more we can find out about how grammar is learned and used, the better placed we will be to teach it effectively. We learners consider that grammar is not only necessary, but also very important in language teaching and learning. the understanding of grammar helps us build up confidence in using the target language and encourages us to use the language accurately and appropriately. We think that grammar teaching and learning can be useful in learning the target language. But we also think that grammar teaching and learning should focus on developing the learners’ communicative ability more than presenting and explaining grammatical rules. Nevertheless, we feel that there is still room for improvement, especially the design of the exercises in the materials since we have not yet experienced the effect on listening and speaking in grammar teaching.

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