Friday, January 13, 2006

The Grammar Translation Method

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008 8:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008 3:07:00 PM  
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Wednesday, January 07, 2009 12:58:00 PM  
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009 9:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009 3:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009 3:17:00 AM  
Anonymous una said...

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i'm doing an assignment related to this topic, ur article help me much

Monday, March 23, 2009 8:46:00 PM  
Anonymous eko setiawan said...

thanks sir!

Monday, April 06, 2009 3:15:00 PM  
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Friday, May 15, 2009 11:47:00 PM  
Blogger syafni said...

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it's better for all to write others method.

Monday, July 06, 2009 6:32:00 AM  
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011 1:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks a lot. it was a good's short and simple, also well-researched.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 3:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who created this method?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 9:50:00 PM  
Anonymous swedish translation said...

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Monday, March 05, 2012 10:09:00 PM  
Anonymous desy momon said...

i need this article for my next presentation. how about the history of GTM?Could you explain in your next post?

Sunday, March 18, 2012 8:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012 8:18:00 AM  
Blogger shabeer ahmed said...

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Monday, January 21, 2013 6:22:00 AM  
Blogger william max said...

In fairness, his English was excellent (relative to most natives during the flight and in the airport). Der Chauffeur (my cahuffeur lacked Der, as he told me his professional title) gave me a little crash course on practical German Professional translation words and lines I can use to survive until my flight back home.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 9:21:00 AM  
Blogger william max said...

In fairness, his English was excellent (relative to most natives during the flight and in the airport). Der Chauffeur (my cahuffeur lacked Der, as he told me his professional title) gave me a little crash course on practical German Professional translation words and lines I can use to survive until my flight back home.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 9:21:00 AM  
Blogger Lieketseng Lumisi said...

Good work sir....
Altough i wasn't sure what a technique in this context means

Monday, March 28, 2016 8:14:00 PM  

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