Grammar Translation Method (GTM)
Somewhat several hundred years ago Latin was the worlds’ most widely studied foreign language. It was the dominant Language. It was the dominant language of education, commerce, religion, and government in the western world. In the sixteenth century , however, French, Italian, and English gained in importance as a result of political changes in Europe. Latin, therefore, is no longer a living language. Its status was an occasional subject in school curriculum. Children entering “Grammar School” in the sixteenth, and seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries in England were taught Latin. It was believed that studying Latin could develop intellectual abilities especially to exercise logical reasoning. The study of classical Latin, in which the classical works of Virgil, Ovid, and Cicero were written, was also meant to learn its great philosophy. Thus, the western world of the 17th , 18th, and 19th centuries, foreign language learning was associated with the learning of Latin and Greek, both supposed to promote their speakers’ intellectuality.
Students learning Latin were first given Latin grammar through rote learning of its rule, study of declensions and conjugations. The parallel bilingual (Latin and English) texts and dialog were often used. Once basic proficiency was established students were introduced to the advanced study of grammar and rhetoric.
Textbooks usually consisted of abstract grammar rules, list of Vocabulary, mean, sentences for translation. Speaking was not the goal. Writing practices were dealt with translation from native to foreign language and vice versa. By the nineteenth century, the procedures used in the study of Latin had become the standart way of studying foreign language in schools. This approach to foreign language teaching became known as the Grammar-Translation Method (GTM). At one time it was also called Classical Method.
Grammar Translation method was first devised and developed for use in secondary schools. This approach was historically used in teaching Greek and Latin. The approach was then generalized to teaching modern Language, including English. It could even be called” the Grammar School Method” since its strengths and weaknesses reflected the aspiration of the nineteenth century grammar school in its obvious formats in different countries.
Classes are taught in the students’ mother tongue, with little active use of the target language. Vocabulary is taught in the form provided. Grammar instruction provides the rules for putting words together; instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words. Reading of difficult text 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. Often the only drills are exercises in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue, and vice versa. Little or no attention is given to pro nunciation
Richards and Rodgers (1993: 3-4) mention the principles of GTM as follows:
1. The goal of foreign language study is to learn a language in order to read its literature. It is believed that studying a foreign language provides student with good mental exercise which helps develop their mind. Students will get benefit from the mental discipline and intellectual development. Students will grow intellectually. Though the students will probably never use the target language, the mental exercise of learning it will be very beneficial anyway.
2. Vocabulary and grammar are emphasized. Reading and writing are the primary skills the students worn on. There is little or no systematic atemption given to speaking and listening. Pro nunciation receives little attention.
3. Vocabulary selection is based solely on the reading texts used, and words are taught through bilingual word lists, dictionary study, and memorization. In a typical Grammar-Translation text, the grammar rules are presented with their translation equivalents, and translation exercises prescribed.
4. The sentence is the basic unit of teaching and language practice. Much of the lesson is devoted to translating sentences into and out of the target language, and it is the focus on the sentences that is a distinctive feature of the method.
5. Accuracy is emphasized. Students are expected to attain high standarts in translation.
6. Grammar is taught deductively; that is students are given grammar rules and examples and are told to memorize them, and then asked to apply the rules to other examples. They also learn grammatical paradigms such as verb conjugations. They memorize native language equivalents for foreign language vocabulary.
7. The student’s native language is the medium of instruction. The meaning of the target language is made clear by translating it into the student’s native language. It is also used to explain new items and to make comparisons between the foreign and language and the student’s native Language
1. The Rules of the Teacher and the Student
The roles of the teacher are very traditional . The teacher is the authority in the classroom. The students do what the teacher says to them. Thus, most interaction in the classroom is from the teacher to the students. There is little student initiation and little student interaction.
2. Translation of a Literary Passage as the Main Classroom Activity
Students translate a reading passage from the target language into their native language. The reading passage then provides the focus for several classes: vocabulary and grammatical structures in the passage mat be excerpted from some work from the target literature, or the teacher may write the passage carefully designed to include particular grammar rules and vocabulary. The translation may be written or spoken or both. Students should not translate idioms and the like literally, but rather in a way that shows that they understand their meaning.
3. Reading Comprehension Activity
Students answer questions in the target language based on their understanding of the reading passage. The teacher gives the students a topic to write about in the target language. The topic is based upon some aspects of the reading passage of the lesson. Sometimes, instead of writing a composition, students are asked to prepare a summary or précis of the reading passage.
4. Vocabulary Activity
Students are given lists of target language vocabulary and their native language equivalents and are asked to memorized them. Some vocabulary activities are synonym/antonym and fill in the blank. Students are given one set of words and are asked to find antonyms in the reading passage. A similar exercise could be done by asking students to find synonyms for a particular set of words. One student might be asked ti define a set of words based on their understanding of them as they occur in reading passage. Another type of exercise that asks students to work with the vocabulary of the passage is also possible, such as fill in the blanks. Students are given a series of sentences with words missing. They fill in the blanks with new vocabulary items or with items of a particular grammar type, such as prepositions or verbs with different sentences. In order to show that students understand the meaning and use of a new vocabulary items, they make up sentences in which they use the new words.
5. Grammar Activity
Grammar is taught deductively, that is, grammar rules are presented with examples. Exceptions to each rule, they are asked to apply it to some different examples. Students are also required to memorize grammatical rules and grammatical paradigms such as verb conjugations.
Grammar Translation Method dominated European and foreign language teaching from 1840 to 1940s. It is true to say that this method has no underlying theory. There is no literature which presents rationale for it, or that attempts to relate it to issues in linguistic, psychology, or educational theory.
In the mid-nineteenth century, several reactions against GTM gradually developed in European countries. Some criticizes that this method often creates frustation for students by a tedious experience of memorizing endless list of unusable grammar rules and vocabulary, and the limitations of practice tecqniques never emancipate the learner from the dominance of the first language.
The reform movement laid the foundations for the development of new ways of teaching languages. There are several factors contributed to the increased need for teaching methodologies other than GTM such as: (1) The increased opportunities for communication among European people have created a demand for oral proficiency in foreign languages. (2) Language teachers or language teaching specialists began to pay great attention to the way or the methods modern languages were being taught in secondary schools. Some of these specialists were C.Marcel, and F.Gouin. The created a specific method for reforming the teaching of modern languages. Their methods of teaching languages later became embryo of new teaching method called Direct Method.