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Grammar-Translation Method

A. The Nature of the Method

As the name already suggests, grammar-translation has coped the main emphasis of
this method, for example, the study of grammatical aspect of language and the use of
translation in order to reach comprehension of the language. Therefore, it can be
confirmed that Grammar-Translation Method, or what we usually call as GTM, focuses on
the detailed study of grammar rules, and then practices those rules as a translation-
exercise. (Richards Rodgers, !"#$%
Grammar and translation are the heart of this method. Thus, the goal of this method is
to ma&e the students to be able to translate target language into another language. Then, if
the students are able to translate from one language to another language, the students can
be considered as successful language learners.
'ased on the goal which stated abo(e, it indicates that GTM is not too focusing on
how to pronounce the words well, but it mainly focuses on how to write and to read.
Therefore, in terms of four language s&ills, GTM focuses on the writing and reading s&ills,
whereas spea&ing and listening are only gi(en a little attention. )t is ob(ious that through
writing and reading s&ill, a translation-exercise can be done while it will also de(elop the
students* accuracy. (Richards Rodgers, !"#$%
The explanation abo(e are se(eral from se(en principle characteristics of the
Grammar-Translation Method which are explained as follows+
!. ,tudy a language through their grammar rules. This can be clearly seen from
the acti(ity li&e translating sentences and texts into and out of the target
language. -onse.uently, the learner ought to memori/e the rules and the
(ocabulary itself.
0. Reading and writing are the main s&ill that used in GTM.
1. 2ocabulary learning only solely comes from the reading text used. The entire
(ocabulary in the text will be presented, illustrated, and taught through
bilingual way.
3. The sentence is the basic unit of teaching and language practice. The whole
lesson will be more focus on translating a sentences into or out of the target
4. 5mphasi/e more on accuracy. The students are intended to ma&e the
translation without any error. Therefore, they can pass the formal writing
$. Grammar is taught deducti(ely, which means that grammar rules will be
presented first, and afterward the students will practice it through translation
6. ,tudent*s first language or nati(e language is used as the medium instruction.
)t is important to be used to explain new (ocabulary items and also can be
used to compare the foreign language and the student*s nati(e language.
B. The Role of the Method
7nli&e other many language teaching methods, GT method has its own ob8ecti(es that
is the main focus of a method to achie(e. Generally the specific learning ob8ecti(e is a
product of a method. GT method does not emphasi/e on oral s&ills but concentrates on
reading and writing s&ills. This method has a product-oriented ob8ecti(e according to which
the learners (students% are supposed to de(elop translation s&ills. The primary ob8ecti(e or
goal of this method is to ma&e students able to read classical literature or literary texts for
intellectual de(elopment. The purpose of this method is to de(elop students* reading, writing
and translation s&ills through rote learning of (ocabulary lists and grammar rules. The
fundamental reason for learning language according to this method is to gi(e learners access
to 5nglish literature, de(elop their mind 9mentally* through foreign language learning and to
build in them the &ind of reading, grammar (ocabulary and translation s&ills re.uired to pass
mandatory written test exams at high school or tertiary le(els.
2.1 Teacher and learner roles
GT method as a traditional method highly emphasi/es the role of teacher. The teacher
is considered as the primary source of &nowledge, composer of &nowledge and meaning. The
teacher is responsible for determining the content of what to teach. The teacher remains as the
authority in the class where the teacher pro(ides deducti(e rules of grammar and (ocabulary
lists for the students to memori/e so that it will be helpful for them in reading, writing and
translating literary texts from nati(e to target language and (ice-(ersa. The teacher simply
as&s and instructs students to state the grammar rule. The primary goal of teacher who uses
this method is to ma&e students able to read literature in target language. The teacher also
plays a role of initiator of interaction in the language classroom. The role of teacher also
seems li&e a facilitator and guide as they chec& students and present them from ma&ing
The role of a learner is that of a consumer of &nowledge who does whate(er his:her
teacher instructs him:her to do. ;owe(er, the seemingly passi(e learner has to memori/e
(ocabulary lists, grammar rules re.uired for reading, writing and translation s&ills acti(ely.
The learner has to learn about the form of target language. There is (ery little initiation of
interaction from learner*s part. The role of the learner is similar to a translation of language as
he:she is supposed to ha(e translated literary text from target language to his:her nati(e
language and sometimes (ice-(ersa. <e(ertheless, GT method merely teaches students about
the target language and nati(e language translation but does not reasonably tal& about the
ways of using it. ,ince the learner does not concentrate on listening and spea&ing the role of
learner simply becomes as mere participant, reader, writer, rote-learner and translator.
The teacher simply instructs students by initiating a tas& for the students to do
reading, writing, and translation by rote memori/ation of (ocabulary lists and deducti(e
grammar rules. The role of teaching learning instructional materials according to this method
is to pro(ide literary texts and encourage students to do translation acti(ity. The texts also
incorporate (ocabulary lists and grammar rules for the students to memori/e necessary for
de(eloping reading, writing and translation s&ills rather than listening and spea&ing.
)n term of techni.ue how to teach a language in GTM, we need to re(iew the
principles underlying Grammar-Translation Method. GTM as a language teaching method
focuses on teaching language regarding with teaching grammar and translating.
The fundamental principle is that reading and written language are more important
than those of spea&ing and listening. Thus teaching language in GTM is to as& the students to
read a sentence e(en a text and translate it. To be able to do this, the students firstly are taught
the grammar of the language and the (ocabulary in order to understand the text. The
&nowledge of the structure of a language according to GTM can help the students understand
the text. Teaching is conducted deducti(ely by teaching the structures of a language then to
apply what they ha(e learned in other examples. To apply what they ha(e learned, the
students are as&ed to translate a sentence from target language to nati(e language while
(ocabulary is taught by memori/ing it or the teacher helps the students by translating a word
or phrase when they do not understand it. The role of nati(e language in GTM classroom then
is (ery important. )t means that the meaning of target language must be made clearly by
translating the target language into students* nati(e language. At the end of teaching and
learning, the e(aluation is conducted by as&ing the students to translate the target language to
students* nati(e language or from the nati(e language to the target language. 'esides the
students are pro(ided a text which is about the culture of target language as&ed to answer
some .uestions by using target language, and some .uestions as& the students to apply the
grammar rules.
)n the teaching and learning process, the role of teacher is the authority in the
classroom while the students are listening and do what the teacher says. This is (ery
traditional compared to teaching and learning process now days. The nature of the classroom
acti(ities is then dominated mostly by the teacher. )t means that the interaction is mostly from
the teacher to the students and there a little interaction from the students to teacher. )n term
of errors, the students* correct answer are highly expected and considered (ery important and
when the students ma&e mista&es, the teacher will correct them by supplying correct answers.
;a(ing re(iewed the principles, now we can find the techni.ue that teaching and
learning process are conducted based on GTM.
The techniques are as the following:
Translating a literar !assage
As has been discussed abo(e, the teacher will as& the students to translate a text from
target language into students* nati(e language or sometimes the students are as&ed to translate
a text from their nati(e language into target language.
Reading com!rehension question
The teacher pro(ides a text which sometimes about the culture of target language and
fine art. To e(aluate the students* reading comprehension, they are as&ed to answer se(eral
.uestions. The .uestions sometimes are about the inferred meaning in which the answer is not
exactly stated in the passage. Another type of .uestion is to as& the students to relate the
passage to their own experience.
The students are as&ed to find the antonym of word or its synonym. The students then ha(e to
find in the passage where the words are used. This means that the students wor& with their
(ocabulary comprehension.
#educti$e a!!lication of rules
The students are taught the grammar rules of the language and the teacher also
pro(ides the example. =nce the students are able to understand the rules, they are as&ed to
apply the rules in another example.
%ill-in the &lan'
The students are as&ed to fill the blan& with new (ocabularies which sometimes are
pro(ided by teacher and they ha(e to choose them. The blan& is also related to the grammar
rules in which the students ha(e to fill the blan& by grammar items.
The students are gi(en a list of (ocabularies which ha(e to be memori/ed by them.
'esides, the students also ha(e to memori/e grammatical rules that ha(e been taught.
The students are as&ed to write about certain topic in target language. ,ometimes the
students are also as&ed to ma&e summary about the topic they 8ust ha(e read.
*trengths and wea'nesses
>anguage is seen as a collection or words which are isolated and independent.
,o,students themsel(es are not seemingly able to produce sentences.
'ad effect of this method is on pupil?s moti(ation. 'ecause s:he cannot succeed
inlearning the difficult grammar rules of the target language. That leads to the
boredom inthe classroom.
,tudents cannot master all of four s&ills of 5nglish (listening, spea&ing, reading,
The grammar-translation method is the easiest for a teacher to employ. )t
doesn?tre.uire a teacher to spea& good 5nglish or ma&e good lesson preparations. ,o,
his &nowledge might be lost into in obli(ion.
The *trengths
The students are able to understand and explain the grammatical features of language
in detail ,tudents* reading and writing ability increase
The #irect Method
). The Nature of the Method
@irect method appears as a method against all of the fundamental principle of Grammar-
Translation method. Rather than using procedure that focuses on explanation of grammar
rules in classroom, the teacher should directly and spontaneously use the foreign language in
the classroom. Therefore the use of grammar rules can be reduced and the used of textboo&
can be replaced at the early age. (Richards Rodgers, !"#$%
)n this situation, the students will ha(e attention to the spontaneous teacher and try to
pronounce or repeat the words what the teacher as& to them. The new (ocabulary can be
taught using picture or the other media and pronounce them with correct mime. ;ence, this
will impro(e the spea&ing and listening s&ill of the students.
The direct method will be more exposure to the target language rather than the nati(e
language. Therefore, the foreign language or target language will be more used as the
medium of instruction in the classroom. Through this method, the early age can ac.uire their
second language easily. -onse.uently, sometimes direct method referred as the natural
method (<i&olo(a, 0A!1%.
According to Richards and Rodgers (!"#$% there are eight characteristics features of the
@irect Method thusB
!. -lassroom instruction is only gi(en in the target language. Thus, the nati(e language
of the students is not used at all.
0. =nly e(eryday (ocabulary and sentences are taught.
1. =ral communication s&ills are de(eloped through .uestion-and-answer exchanges
between teacher and students.
3. Grammar is taught inducti(ely.
4. <ew teaching items are introduced orally first.
$. )f possible, (ocabulary is taught through demonstration, actual ob8ects or pictures.
Abstract (ocabulary is taught (ia association of ideas.
6. ,peech and listening comprehension are taught.
#. -orrect pronunciation and grammar are emphasi/ed.
). The Role of the Method
)n the mid and late !" century, 5urope experienced a wa(e of increasing opportunities
of communication, due to industriali/ation and international trade and tra(el. A need was felt
to de(elop oral proficiency in foreign languages. >anguage teachers had already found
Grammar-translation method inade.uate and ineffecti(e in de(eloping communicati(e ability
in learners. Moreo(er, @irect Method strongly ad(ocates an alternati(e method in which
language was presented in contexts and the mother tongue was a(oided. )ts principal
ad(ocates were Cendergast and ,au(eur who proposed what they called <atural Method that
suggests radical change from Grammar- translation. )t is this method that later on came to be
&nown as the @irect Method. The @irect Method is named DdirectE because meaning should
be connected directly with the target language without translation into the nati(e language.
>anguage can be learnt only through demonstration. )nstead of analytical procedures
of explaining grammar rules, students must be encouraged to use language naturally and
spontaneously so that they induce grammar.
The learning of second language was seen as parallel to the ac.uisition of the child*s first
language. This method therefore emphasi/e the importance of sounds, simple sentences and
direct association of language with ob8ect and person of immediate en(ironment, the
classroom, the home, the garden, etc.
!% F A
The teacher as&s .uestion of any nature and the students answer
0% @ictation
The teacher choose a grade appropriate passage and reads the text
1% Reading Aloud
,tudents ta&e turn reading sections of a passage, play or dialogue out loud
3% Map @rawing
,tudents are gi(en a map without labeled then the students label it by using the
directions which the teacher gi(es.
The ad$antages of the #irect Method:
!% The use of the target language as a means of instruction and communication in the
classroom contributes greatly to forming the habit of thin&ing in the target language,
which is necessary in efficient real communication.
0% The emphasis on practice with new language items and on language s&ills, rather than
on language &nowledge, is important in achie(ing automaticity of using the target
1% The emphasis on spo&en language conforms to the ob8ecti(es of modern language
teaching. ,pecial attention paid to pronunciation and intonation is desirable in
teaching spo&en language.
3% Regarding listening and spea&ing as the basis of reading and writing is strategic in
fostering the four s&ills.
4% 7sing full sentences as teaching units ma&es foreign language learning more natural
and efficient for students to understand a new text and ac.uire a language.
The disad$antages of the #irect Method
!% =(eremphasi/ing the similarities between naturalistic first language ac.uisition and
classroom foreign language learning results in the exclusi(e use of the target
language. The absolute a(oidance of the nati(e tongue occasionally troubles the
@irect Method in teaching the meaning of abstract concepts.
0% Githout explicit grammar explanation, students lac& a necessary &nowledge of the
target language. As a result, they tend to produce utterances with a lot of grammatical
mista&es in them. )t is difficult for them to safeguard against mista&es and self-correct
them without the guidance of the rules of the target language.
1% The @irect Method places a high demand on the teacher. )t re.uires nati(e-spea&er
teachers or teachers who ha(e nati(e-spea&er-li&e fluency in the target language.
'rown, ;.,. (0AAA%. Crinciples of >anguage >earning and Teaching (3
ed.%. <ew Hor&B
Cearson 5ducation
@ianne >arsen-Ireeman. 0AAA. Techniques and principles in language teaching. =xford
7ni(ersity CressB =xford. Retrie(ed May !A, 0A!3, from,"33A6#:Gea&nesses-of-Grammar-Translation-Method
<i&olo(a, ). (0A!1%. The Direct Method. Retrie(ed May A#, 0A!3, from,
Richards, J. Rodgers T. (!"#$%. Approaches and Methods in >anguage Teaching.
-ambridgeB -ambridge 7ni(ersity Cress
Richards and Rogers. (0AA!%. Approaches and Methods in >anguage Teaching (0
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Hor&B -ambridge 7ni(ersity Cress.