The Grammar – Translation Method. Background. The grammar-translation method of foreign or second language teaching (which owes its name to its making use of translation and grammar study as the main teaching and learning activities) is one of the most traditional methods. Also called.
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Background • The grammar-translation method of foreign or second language teaching (which owes its name to its making use of translation and grammar study as the main teaching and learning activities) is one of the most traditional methods.
Also called The Grammar-Translation Method was called the Classical Method since it was first used in the teaching of the classical languages, Latin and Greek (Chastian, 1988).
The Method in Its Context: Birth & Motivation • This approach emerged in the 15th century, and was historically / originally used in the study and teaching of Greek and Latin in Europe, which were 'dead' languages (and literatures), involving little or no spoken communication or listening comprehension. • This may account for its heavy bias towards written work to the virtual exclusion of oral production.
The GTM dominated language teaching from the 1840s (the mid of the nineteenth century) to the 1940s. • As modern vernacular languages began to replace Latin, they were taught using the same basic procedures that were used for teaching Latin. • Thus the method became the standard way /was generalized to teaching modern languages such as French, German and English • The method is still being used in some of today’s classrooms in many countries.
Objectives 1. To read literature in target language • The ultimate objective of the method is to be able to read and understand written target language literature through the study of the grammar of the target language. • The culture of the target language is confined to the literature and the fine arts 2. To develop minds • It was thought that foreign language learning would help students grow intellectually. Language learning is a mental exercise, learning a foreign language is a good mental exercise for students. Learning of the target language empowers students mentally (it was recognized that students would probably never use the target language, but the mental exercise of learning it would be beneficial anyway.) • The ability to communicate in the target language is not a goal of foreign language instruction in this method. Hence the emphasis on reading and writing, rather than listening and speaking.
Principles • Literary language is superior to the spoken language. • Translating each language into each other is an important goal for learners. • The authority in the classroom is the teacher. • The primary skills to be improved are reading and writing. Little attention is given to speaking and listening and almost none to pronunciation. • Its focus is on accuracy and not fluency. • It seemed there was no need for students to master the four skills of English (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) • To be able to communicate with target language’s speakers is not among the goals.
What does it involve? - Characteristics • The method focuses on learning the rules of grammar and their application in translating passages from one language into the other. • Grammar is taught with extensive and elaborate explanations provided in the native language, and only later applied in the production of sentences through translation from one language to the other. eg: • Do you have my book? = ¿Tienes mi libro? • I don't know where your book is = No sé donde está tu libro
Vocabulary in the target language is taught in the form of isolated word lists through direct translation from the native language. e.g. with vocabulary lists such as: • the house = la casa • the mouse = el ratón • Reading of difficult texts is begun early in the course of study. Little attention is paid to the content of texts. • Often the only drills are exercises in translating disconnected sentences. • Little or no attention is given to pronunciation. • Classes are taught in the students' mother tongue, i.e. 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.
A Typical Grammar Translation Lesson • The Method: • A typical lesson / A chapter in a distinctive textbook of this method (Grammar Translation Style) in the mid-nineteenth century would consist of the following: • 1 (Study Vocabulary) - begin with a study of a massive bilingual vocabulary list. • 2 (Study Grammar) - preparation of a grammatical rule - Grammar points come directly from the texts and are presented contextually in the textbook. • This would be explained and elaborated by the instructor. • Grammar thus provided the rules for assembling words into sentences. • 3 (Translation Exercise) - Tedious Translation (of a passage) and grammar drills would be used to exercise and strengthen the knowledge without much attention to context. • Sentences would be translated and eventually entire texts would be translated from the target language into the native 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 Pros (Positive Points: • Classes are taught in the students' mother tongue, making it easier for the beginner. • Focus on vocabulary and translation of vocabulary, thus making it easy to learn vocabulary for beginners. A good first step….. • Elaborate explanations of grammar are always provided. Students are conscious of the grammatical rules of the target language. (Deductive grammar ) • Grammar instruction provides the rules for putting words together; instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words.
The Pros • Learning is facilitated through attention to similarities between the target language and the native language.(but beware of cases of misleading similarity=faux amis) • The grammar-translation method seems to be the easiest for a teacher to employ. It doesn't require a teacher to speak good target language or make good lesson preparations.
The Cons (Negative Points / Drawbacks ): • Classes are taught in the students’ native language, with little active use of the target language. No class time is allocated to allow students to produce their own sentences. • There is often little contextualization of the grammar • The type of error correction can be harmful to the students’ learning processes. • Vocabulary is taught in the form of isolated word lists.
Reading of difficult texts is begun early in the course of study. Little attention is paid to the content of texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical analysis. • The primary focus is memorization of words, grammar rules and vocabulary • Often the only drills are exercises in translating whole texts or disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue, and vice versa – word for word. • Little or no attention is given to pronunciation. • The Language produced is not natural… • Meaning is not fully understood/ grasped…. • It is usually regarded as non-communicative, non-motivational • The only thing students may gain from this method is the ability to read and interpret? a text
The Cons • The teaching of conversation is postponed and underestimated • This method gives pupils the wrong idea of what language is. In fact, Language is seen as a collection or words which are isolated and independent. • Worst effect of this method is on pupil's motivation. • Because (s)he cannot succeed, this leads to frustration, boredom and indiscipline
Teacher role is Traditional: The teacher is the authority in the classroom. Student role It is very important that students get the correct answer. Student errors / Error correction:the correct answer important- If a student’s answer of a question is incorrect, the teacher selects a different student to give the correct answer or s/he replies himself/herself. There is little student-student interaction. Roles
Thus what occurred?Main disadvantage • It does virtually nothing to enhance the student's communicative ability in the language. • An inability to verbally communicate using the target language.
Materials: • The grammar book • The dictionary
Techniques Memorize the following: I am You are He/she/it is We are They are • Practice exercises to apply the grammatical notions in a deductive way • Memorization of long vocabulary lists • Reading comprehension and vocabulary exercises of a text • Translation of literary texts • Compositions • Assessment Exams to evaluate the capacity to understand written texts and to translate sentences
Evaluation • Learning is understood as a result of a great intellectual effort where the memorization of rules and vocabulary is necessary. • Written tests in which students are asked to translate from their native language to the target language or vice versa are often used. • If students can translate from one language into another, they are considered successful language learners. • questions about Foreign lang/culture
The Method in Its Context 2: • Because the GTM emphasizes reading rather than the ability to communicate in language there was a reaction to it in the 19th century. • The Grammar translation method stayed in schools until the 1960s when a complete foreign language pedagogy evaluation was taking place. Teachers experimented with approches like the direct method in post-war and depression era classrooms. • It may be still be used today because of the lack of pressure put on the teacher, who is not required to speak the L2.
Assignments • Prepare a detailed lesson plan according to the Grammar-Translation Method. Be ready to teach it to your fellow colleagues in the next meeting. Use intermediate textbooks for making your lesson plan. • Write down your critique of the method indicating weaknesses and strengths and how to maximize benefit from the method in our schools.
It’s Lesson Time!! Open your textbook!!
An Example to the Point • ???? The textbook consists of chapters or lessons. The central part of each lesson is the grammar section dealing with grammar points raised by a selected text. The grammar rules are explained, and illustrated by example sentences. Grammar points are frequently presented in the form of paradigms. Long elaborate explanations of the intricacies of grammar are given. • Wherever possible, verb conjugations and other grammatical paradigms are to be committed to memory. • Grammar provides the rule for putting words together, and instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words. • All Classes are taught (and explanations given) in the mother tongue, with little active use of the target language. • Much vocabulary is taught in the form of lists of isolated words. • Reading of difficult classical texts is begun early. • Little attention is paid to the content of texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical analysis. • Thus, the textbook is codified into frozen rules of morphology and syntax to be explained, and eventually memorized.
Exercises of a classusingthismethod From a textbook (see examples)
Questions What does it mean to say that “In the GTM Language is reduced to the grammatical system”