Classroom management tips for teens
- Teaching qualifications
- Tips & Strategies
I am sure that anyone has faced the Grammar-Translation Method at least once in their life.
Let’s recall: the teacher asks you to read and translate the text, pays much attention to the grammar, and asks you to complete a lot of tasks to practice this grammar…
Sounds familiar? Today we are going to open our series on the history of English teaching methods with the discussion of all the peculiarities of the Grammar-Translation Method, its pros and cons.
So, fasten your seatbelts and let’s enjoy this exciting journey together!
Back in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, studying a foreign language was connected with learning Latin and Greek.
At that period, it was critical to concentrate on grammatical rules, syntactic structures, vocabulary memorization, and literary text translation.
On the other hand, students didn’t really practice oral communication. After all, Latin and Greek were definitely taught not for oral communication.
Late in the nineteenth century, the Classical Method also became known as the Grammar Translation Method but didn’t really move forward from translating literary text from Language 2 to Language 1 through the application of the rules that were being thoroughly studied.
Now, let’s discuss the principles of the method in more detail.
Any method has some fundamentals that define its nature and the way this method can be applied. Here are some principles of the Grammar-Translation Method:
Why should you contextualize grammar?
Now, that we have discussed the fundamental principles of the Grammar-Translation method, let’s look at the typical tasks that are assigned to the students who are taught according to this method:
|Type of the task||Characteristic|
|Translation of the chosen passage||The passage may be an extract from some literary text or a short story that becomes a focus for several lessons. The teacher assists students in the acquisition of the vocabulary and grammar presented in the piece of text. Eventually, students may translate the piece either orally or in a written form showing how well they have mastered a certain grammar topic or target language.|
|Questions to check understanding of the text||This kind of activity is meant to check students’ understanding of the target language, and, therefore, the text. Questions may be divided into checking-the-gist questions, checking-the-detail questions, and post-reading questions where students are supposed to refer to their own experience that is somehow related to the text they have read.|
|Providing the vocabulary item||Students are supposed to look for the definitions, synonyms, antonyms of the items that have been presented in the text.|
Here are some more examples of possible tasks that are done within the Grammar-Translation Method:
|Type of the task||Characteristic|
|Grammar rules’ application||Students are expected to complete a significant number of activities to master a certain grammar topic presented in the text.|
|Fill-in-the-gaps tasks||These tasks may focus on the target language or grammar forms or structures.|
|Memorizing||The teacher gives a list of the target language with the meanings of the words in L1. Students are supposed to learn this list by heart. In addition, students are expected to learn the grammar rules and be able to retell them to the teacher.|
|Making up the sentences||Creating sentences or texts is treated as a form of practicing using certain grammar structures or target language.|
More on using TBL in the classroom
Professionals differentiate the following pros of the Grammar-Translation Method:
What about the cons? Let’s see:
What are the dos and don'ts of ESL teaching?
At this point, many researchers have criticized this technique, claiming that it only improves reading and writing abilities while ignoring conversational skills.
According to them, it also tends to make the class dull and monotonous since the students fall into the habit of translating each line word by word and do not improve their translation speed.
This approach is more and more thought to be ineffective and time-consuming.
Furthermore, despite acquiring a new language's vocabulary, students are still as unable to speak as at the beginning of their studying. That is why, this method is thought to be outdated and isn’t applied to the fullest: only certain elements of it are still preserved and used.
The final aim of the Grammar-Translation Method is to teach students how to read authentic texts. To do that students undergo extensive exposure to English grammar rules and target vocabulary.
The classroom is built on a pretty strict hierarchy: there is authority of the teacher and the students who are supposed to follow all the instructions. There is no or almost no communication between the students as only communication with the teacher is allowed.
More on changing hierarchy
The areas that are paid the most attention to are grammar and reading. Translation from L2 to L1 and vice versa is also in focus.
Unfortunately, the area that totally lacks practice during the application of the Grammar-Translation method is speaking.
There is simply no space to develop students’ speaking abilities, and, therefore, practice the obtained knowledge of the target language and grammar in the speech.
Making no or a small number of grammatical errors is considered to be a success. However, if the mistakes are made, the right to correct them by interrupting or interfering belongs almost solely to the teacher.
As we can see, there are both pros and cons to the method. Although the Grammar-Translation Method may seem outdated and somehow limited for both students’ progress and teachers’ abilities, it stays one of the most used all over the world despite its limited effectiveness.
The Grammar-Translation Method is considered to be one of the most effective for now.
Students have a lot of speaking practice when the Grammar-Translation Method is applied.
Understanding literary language is more important than teaching speaking for the Grammar-Translation Method followers.
Defining CLIL: What is CLIL and How to use it in your ESL classroom
Types of Assessment for the English Lesson and How to Pick the One
ESL games and activities for the classroom to teach "to be"