There are many different approaches and methodologies used by teachers when teaching English and this article is going to focus on the Grammar-Translation Method of teaching English as a Second Language.
This method dates back to the early 16th century. This method was primarily used for teaching Latin. It gained more popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries where it was used for teaching foreign languages in Europe. At this time, it gained more popularity by being used in the US as well. Today, this method is still used in some countries, but it isn’t widely used as it has been rejected as a sound methodology by a number of scholars involved with the teaching of foreign languages.
When using the Grammar-Translation method to teach English, classes will normally be carried out in the mother tongue of the students learning the language. Students learn vocabulary and grammar rules from a teacher and are drilled in translation exercises from the mother tongue into English and vice versa. This method focuses on the form of the sentences and teaching vocabulary to the students.
As can be seen from the title of the method, both grammar and translation are at the core of this method. Students are taught the rules of grammar and are expected to be able to translate sentences. This is mostly done through reading and writing and virtually no speaking, listening or pronunciation skills are practised by the students.
Advantages & Disadvantages
One of the reasons why this method is no longer used is because there are few advantages. One of the advantages is that students will have a wide range of vocabulary and find it easier to understand the rules of grammar but they will have difficulties communicating in spoken English.
Speaking and listening is rarely practised using this method and as a result, most students will not develop this part of their English to a high enough standard to hold a decent conversation. It is common knowledge that there are 4 skills of English; reading, writing, speaking and listening and they are all required to communicate satisfactorily in English.
Finally, it is also a very boring method to teach for the teacher and learn for the students. There is little room for creativity in this method and the class will become dull for most students.
Due to the rigid nature of this method and the fact that there is little or no speaking practice, this method is no longer used and different methods are now more routinely used for teaching English as a foreign or second language.