THE GRAMMAR TRANSLATION METHOD?
The grammar-translation method (also known as the traditional method ) arises in Prussia at the end of the 18th century and adopts as a model the system used for teaching Latin and Greek.
This method bases the teaching of a second language on the detailed analysis of grammar rules and their exceptions and then applies the knowledge acquired to the translation of sentences and texts that are carried out from the second language to one’s own and vice versa. The first language always serves as a reference system in the acquisition of the second.
For this method, grammar learning is deductive , that is, a rule is presented, which is explained and memorized, and then practiced with repetitive memorization or translation exercises. Language is a system of rules that must be taught through texts and related to the rules and meanings of the first language. The basis of both the linguistic description and the activities carried out in class is the written language . Prayer, therefore, is the basic unit of language teaching and practice, and vocabulary is learned through word lists, with special emphasis on the degree of correctness of translation .
The teaching staff is the main protagonist of the teaching-learning process , the highest authority. Its function is to provide linguistic knowledge and correct errors produced by students. These, on the other hand, have a non-participatory role, they just follow the teacher’s instructions, memorize rules and vocabulary lists, read and translate.
The MT knows important variants, which affect both the grammatical content and the type of exercises (privileging one or the other), but always maintaining a common basis consisting of the presence of the following components:
- word lists, which the student must memorize;
- explicit grammar, which the student must also learn by heart;
- the use of the student’s mother tongue;
- translation, as the axis of class activities;
- written language, as a linguistic reality on which the student’s work is based;
- literary texts, as a model for the realization of language.
Therefore, the MT is based on a rationalist postulate “learning consists in understanding”: knowing and understanding the organization and internal functioning of the language (knowledge that only grammar provides), conceiving it as a collection of words (reflection of the outside world ) whose organization is chaired by a series of rules (which govern both the internal composition of words: spelling, morphology; and their organization or sequence in sentences). Once the rules by which a language is organized are understood, the memorization of the same, together with the memorization of the vocabulary, allows the language to be acquired through continuous translation exercises.
The read-translate objective centers most of the teaching efforts. Such learning, on the other hand, leads to an improvement in the knowledge of one’s own language and understanding of the functioning of any language, since all languages have a series of common principles.
The learning dynamics and the general pedagogical framework (characterized by leadership and authoritarianism) also involve the development of intellectual abilities such as reasoning and analysis. The cultural (and aesthetic, to a lesser extent) objective is explicitly stated: the selection of texts must allow students to contact the best writers in the nation whose language is learned, both from a literary point of view (the best works) as intellectual (thinkers, historians, philosophers). The texts chosen must also lead to the attainment of a moral feeling in the ways of being and the behaviors of the students. The written language is therefore prioritized. Undoubtedly, such objectives are modulated according to the public who learns the language, and according to the learning context. Canonical literary texts constitute highly valued language models, as they represent formal perfection and style.
In summary, the virtues of the method are reduced to the fact that students reach great competence in grammatical aspects that will be of great help if they are engaged in philological studies, allowing them to analyze and study the different morphosyntactic and even phonetic categories with remarkable solvency.
The main problems are that students disconnect the real language of grammar and, therefore, from everyday reality. The learning of it is passive and ineffective to reach oral and written active competencies, and, what is more serious, comprehensive. Lexicon learning is very expensive and often minimal.
MT seems rather suitable for an advanced stage of learning. Students with vocation, who master the language actively and fluently, will find it exciting to go into philological details. Insisting, however, in applying this method at the first levels seems to give very poor results in the majority of students, condemning it to frustration and failure in the true mastery of classical languages.
- Develops the memory.
- Develop writing and reading skills.
- Acquisition of vocabulary.
The Grammar Translation Method, despite being a method used for teaching English in many educational institutions, is not entirely feasible since it does not fully develop the 4 skills necessary for language knowledge that are speech, listen, writing and reading; because the oral competence does not develop.
Another disadvantage of this method is the little or no interaction between teacher-student, leading to no exchange of knowledge and therefore does not create an environment of trust.
In the meantime the low participation by the student creates an environment of lack of motivation towards the acquisition of the new language in this case English.
At the time of translating, it could be the case of not being able to do it exactly since many phrases in English cannot be translated verbatim.