Learning & Teaching Foreign Languages

Grammar Translation


The Grammar-Translation method had been defined and described as follows:

A way of teaching in which students study grammar and translate words into their own language. They do not practise communication and there is little focus on speaking. A teacher presents a grammar rule and vocabulary lists and then students translate a written text from their own language into the second language. See communicative approach.

British Council

A dull, dry, and ineffective teaching method completely devoid of theoretical justification. The method has its roots in the teaching of Latin. The method focuses on translating grammatical forms, memorizing vocabulary, learning rules, and studying conjugations. Its focus is on accuracy and not fluency.  Emphasis is on form and not on meaning.  Paragraphs are dissected for form, while students and teacher could care less if the paragraph actually has anything worth saying.  Another problem with this method is that most of the teaching is done through explanation in the learner's first language.

Bogglesworld EFL glossary

Grammar-Translation (GT) has come to be seen as the antithesis of good teaching practice, and much scorn is customarily heaped upon it. This bad reputation is not entirely undeserved: GT is associated with a very grammar driven approach to learning, with an emphasis on accuracy rather than fluency, and on the written form rather than the spoken form. Moreover, most exercise types in traditional GT courses work at the sentence level or below: there is no such thing as authentic text, for example, in a standard GT course. In fact, inauthenticity is a hallmark of GT courses, and lends itself to endless ridicule.

Scott Thornbury

Download this exercise to analyse a Grammar-Translation lesson, then check your answers.

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