The grammar–translation method originated in the 1500s when Latin was extensively studied as a foreign language due to its importance in various fields like academia, business, etc. but the use of Latin gradually declined during the century, and it was substituted by English, and other European languages. Eventually, people studied Latin as a subject rather than a language for communication.
Modern languages also appeared in school curricula in the 19th century and language teachers used the same grammar-translation method to teach the languages. In the 19th century, grammartranslation textbooks had target language grammar. It had separate and disconnected grammar rules for learners to memorize, a bilingual vocabulary list, and sentences were provided to learn and translate.
Principles of Grammar-Translation Method :-
The following are the principles of grammar-translation method:
- Emphasis is on reading and writing consequently.
- L1 is used while teaching
- Learners learn grammar rules deductively.
- Rote learning is encouraged.
- Grammar drills and translation from L1 to L2 are common.
- “Form” is more important than “content”;.
- Evaluation is based on translation of texts.
- The textbook is the only teaching-learning material.
Roger Ascham, Montaigne, Comenius and John Locke attempted to reform grammar-translation method. Later, Berlitz, Passy, Viëtor, and Jespersen shed light on the problems of grammar translation. They supported teaching L2 in L2 itself – supporting speech and text.
Merits of Grammar – Translation Method :-
- Both the teacher and the learner use L1 while teaching and learning respectively.
- Translation of new words provides clear understanding to the learner.
- The teacher need not strive for accuracy.
- TheThe philosophical principle, known to unknown is followed Hence, the learners easily comprehend teaching points.
- The teacher is relaxed while teaching, as the efforts she has to put in is minimal.
- The teacher can evaluate the learner’s comprehension easily.
Demerits of Grammar-Translation Method :-
- It does not improve the oral fluency in English.
- It is tedious and uninteresting as the learners have to memorize words and rules.
- It does not build confidence in the learners.
- here is no restriction in using L1 in classm
- Language items learnt are away from real life situations.
- The learner is unable to use English in day to day communication; and This method focuses only on reading and writing.
- Speaking is ignored.