The Grammar-Translation Method

Today English is the world’s most popular foreign language. Five hundred years ago, it was Latin. Latin was the major language of education, commerce, religion and government in the Western world. It was a living language. In the sixteenth century when French, Italian and English gained importance, they displaced Latin as a language of oral and written communication. From a living language, Latin turned into a classical language, suitable for scholars and academicians.

Study of Latin grammar became one of the most important aspects of schooling. The system based on the study of Latin became the standard way of studying foreign language in schools. This system became known as the Grammar-Translation Method.

Characteristics Of Grammar-Translation Method

One of the oldest methods of teaching English in India, the Grammar- Translation Method is also called the Traditional Method. The main characteristics of the Grammar-Translation Method are:

1. Target language (here, English) is learnt through mother  tongue (Hindi, in our case). Thus Hindi is the medium of instruction. It is used to  explain  new  items  and  to  make  comparisons  between  the  two languages.

2.  Highest importance is given to learning the rules of grammar.

3.The knowledge of grammar is applied to translating sentences from English to Hindi and from Hindi to English.

4.Grammar rules are presented first. They are then practised through translation exercises.

5.Reading and writing are the major focus. Little or no attention is paid to speaking or listening.

6.For improving vocabulary, word lists (English words and their Hindi translation) are memorised by learners.
The Grammar-Translation Method,  ENGLISH PEDAGOGY Notes, CTET 2015 Exam Notes, TEACHING OF ENGLISH Study Material
7.High value is given to accuracy.

Merits Of Grammar-Translation Method

The merits of Grammar-Translation Method are:
  1. It is convenient for the teacher, as the medium of instruction is mainly Hindi.
  2. Simple teaching learning materials are required.
  3. There is no special need for creating life situations in the classroom.
  4. A  systematic  teaching  procedure  is  followed.  The syllabus  is  well defined. It has plenty of exercises for practice.
  5. It follows the principle of ‘from known to unknown.’ Abstract ideas and expressions are easily explained in Hindi.
  6. Students can achieve good scores by memorising, which is a low-level mental activity.
  7. It is helpful in jobs that require a lot of paperwork, translation, writing reports, drafting formal letters (applications) etc.

Demerits Of Grammar-Translation Method

The limitations of Grammar-Translation Method are:

  1. Students have to think first in Hindi and then translate the thoughts into English.
  2. Study is mechanical and therefore boring.
  3. Students (and sometimes their teachers too) are usually not able to speak English. Correct pronunciation, stress, intonation and the spoken components of English are neglected.
  4. Students are not given sufficient listening practice. Thus they are not ready to face real life situations.
  5. Students form the habit of word by word translation. This leads to serious mistakes in translation.
  6. Learning is slow and a lot of homework is required.
  7. It encourages  memorising rules  and word-meanings. Higher mental functions like application, analysis, synthesis etc. are neglected.
  8. It is more teacher-centred than child-centred method.
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