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Friday, March 9, 2012




The word method means different things to different people. Some people consider only classroom techniques as method, whereas others like to include in this term the selection ans gradation of material to taught. According to W.F. Mackey. “ A method determines what and how much is taught(selection) , the order in which it is taught(gradation), how the meaning and form are conveyed(presentation) and what is done to make the use of the language conscious (repetition)” Thus a method deals with four things: viz selection, gradation, presentation, and repetition. The methods or approaches which have a long and deep history, and were widely used for the foreign language and second language teaching and learning in the world. If we analyses and observe those methods and approaches, we will find out that every method or approach has its own importance and valuable identity and occupied a highly and esteem position in the field of foreign and second language teaching in many corners of the world. All methods and approaches were discovered and presented with the passage of time and the need the time. All methods and approaches are still in use widely in many parts of the country of the world. There are many methods and approaches of foreign and second language teaching in the several corner of India to promote and impart the knowledge and skill of foreign language (i.e. English). 


Grammar Translation Method/ Approach is one of the several methods and approaches which is a classical , traditional, and classic-o-modern method and has its own importance and vital role in the foreign language teaching. It was assumed that Grammar Translation Method was firstly being used to teach th Latin and Greek language in the over world. The method requires students to translate whole texts word to word and memories numerous grammatical rules as well as enormous vocabulary list. Grammar Translation Method was in fact first known in the United Sate as the Prussian Method. At the beginning stage, it was so suitable and famous method that several veteran leading exponents and scholars suggested that GT was the offspring of German scholarship. GT method dominated European and foreign language teaching from 1840 to 1940s and this method with a modified form, it continuous to be widely used in some parts of world even today. 

During the life of my school days, Grammar Translation Method was used for the English language teaching from 6th standard to 10th standard.  I have explained the goal and advantage and disadvantage of this method below.


The basic object and goal of this method is to be able to read, write and translate the text from the source language to target language. This method emphasizes the study of grammar, which is taught deductively i.e. by presentation and study of grammar rules. The structures of the foreign language are compared and contrasted of the mother tongue.The purpose of this method is to learn Grammar of target language which is seen as a descriptive set of finite rules that access to the language.


These are the following main principles of Grammar Translation method which was used to teach me English language in my school time.

  • Teacher used to give me almost 10 vocabularies to be memorized every day. 
  • Teacher used to speak the mother tongue in class. Mother tongue is used in class as a medium of English teaching. 
  • Teacher used to focus on only a set of finite grammatical rules. 
  • Students were supposed to read at least a page in the class every day.
  •  Translation as a homework was given to students every day. 
  • Students were supposed to read a page or paragraph of the lesson from the prescribed English book in the class every day then translate it in the mother tongue. 
  • Teachers used to ask the spelling of the word and its meaning to know that whether they(students) have memorized those words given in the last class or not. 
  • A physical punishment was given to the students who did not memorize the vocabulary and did not do the home works like translation and the exercises of the book. 
  • Teachers used to focus on only reading and writing. Phrase, clause, and Proverbs were taught through rote learning and translation. 
  • A set of finite rules of grammar was deductively. Both Teachers and Students communicated in the class in their mother tongue not in English.
  • Teachers focuses on translating sentences into and out of the target language or L2. 
  • No place for speaking and listening in the class, during the English language teaching. 
  • Teachers did not focus on Pronunciation of the words, speaking and listening. 
  • Teachers used to select the vocabulary mainly from the reading text and words were taught through bilingual word lists and memorization.
  • Teachers used to teach English as prescribed in syllabus and focuses on the exam.
  • Accuracy is targeted only in reading and writing with a good sack of words and finite grammatical rules. 
  • Even people used to ask only words and its meaning and a set of finite rules of grammar in my school and region to know that whether school students have the skill of English or not.
  • Foreign clauses and phraseology were quickly explained and comprehended through the mother tongue. 
  • A list of vocabulary, words and phrases were learnt by heart and rote learning within the time of critical period which are unforgettable till the last breath of life. 
  • With the afraid of teacher’s physical punishment, students memories the list of vocabulary and do homework regularly. 
  • There is rapid expansion in the vocabulary of the pupils and students which are the basic building blocks of any language in the world. 
  • Teacher’s energy, labour, and time is saved. 
  • It maintains the dignity and esteem of the Mother tongue. 
  • It makes use of the child’s knowledge of his Mother tongue and is able to explain everything in his/her mother tongue that what he has been taught in English. 
  • It helps in comprehension of each and every element of the set of finite rules of grammar.
  • It is an unnatural method to teach the natural language in the natural environment in the natural world. 
  • It does not focus on the major objects of the language like speaking and listening. 
  • Language learning is a process of habit formation, but students fail to form the habit of speaking the foreign language fluently. 
  • It does not provide any pattern practice. 
  • It does not provide any pattern practice in oral and listening work which could form the habit of speaking and listening. 
  • It focuses on translation from mother language to target language and vise­-versa. 
  • But translation is not possible because every language has its own custom, traditions, patterns, and modes of behaviour according to the its region and cultural phenomenon. 
  • It always encourages the literal translation which can distort the exact and real messages and concepts which are the soul of the text. 
  • It teaches English only by a set of finite rules of grammar not by use and practice. 
  • Language is skill which can be learnt by by practice not by just memorising the rules and words. 
  • The main disadvantage of this method is that Grammar Translation Method is a tedious task and experience of memorizing unusable grammar rules and vocabulary and attempting to produce the exact translation. 
  • A grammar Translation syllabus consisted of two components: Grammar and Lexical items but this is not enough for any language to learn or teach. 
  • It does not tell us how to teach listening. The learner by this method of language is considered as passive who does not participate in discussion and conversations.

Now I would like to conclude it by saying that the Grammar Translation Method is one of the best methods which is called classic, traditional and the oldest one. At the beginning, this method was used to teach the Greek and Latin language in the world and which was known in the United State as the Prussian Method, has occupied the valuable and esteem place in the page of history in the field of foreign and second language teaching. This method was used to teach me the English language as a second or foreign language and I think that this method was very relevant, suitable, appropriate and applicable to the Government school in a large village and rural areas where there was no electricity, language lab, TV, computers and any other educational tools in my school as well as a lack of a very good experienced and veteran teachers, a decade ago. In such circumstances, there was no any appropriate method but GT method in my school where there is no any English atmosphere and English speakers and teachers, students and people always interact and communicate with one another in their mother tongue or regional language.The Grammar Translation Method, although it has been universally condemned and rejected, it continues to be popular with most of the English teachers in India because they fine it easy to teach through this method. I am of the view that it will be wrong for anyone to swear by one method or the other and be dogmatic. Our approach in this regard should be eclectic and pragmatic. The good teacher can not sell his freedom and be a slave to any method whatever be its merits. He should select features of any method, which he may find effective and appropriate in particular circumstances. Methods that may work with small groups may not suit large classes. The social background also contributes to language study. The foregoing discussion leads us to the conclusion that there can be no one method which can suit all people, all places and all conditions. It is the only teacher who has to select for himself the best in all methods according to his needs and the needs of time.


Flowerdew, J and Miller, " Second Language Listening", 2005, Cambridge University Press, U.K

Richards, J. C and Rodgers, T.S, "Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching", 2001, Cambridge University Press, U.K

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