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Biplob Prodhan
  • 2 months ago
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Give an evaluation of the Grammar Translation Method focusing on its main characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. [NU. 2012]

Ans. GTM is a language teaching method that was used in teaching ancient Greek and Latin. The main goal of teaching a foreign language at that time was to help students develop reading and writing skills. Learners wanted to read literature in the target language, and people wanted to translate literary pieces from one to another language. The process of teaching a language through GTM involves teaching grammar rules deductively. It means teachers will teach the grammatical rules and make sure that students use them correctly at different contexts. The main strength of following GTM is that it helps learners use their mother tongue in learning the target language. Though many educators did not like the idea of using mother tongue in teaching a foreign language in the 20th century. some researchers nowadays suggest using mother tongue to a limited degree. Learners may feel comfortable in the classroom if their first languages are used to help them understand a concept. Moreover, GTM can be very helpful in developing vocabulary skills. As learners learn to translate, they learn many words and phrases in the target language. This helps learners comprehend reading texts easily. It is also noteworthy that GTM emphasizes mastering the target language by learning grammar rules. Though grammar teaching has been given less priority in recent years, grammar is an inseparable part of a language. Grammar is still taught with great importance, but the approach and techniques are different.

The main weakness of GTM is that it puts almost zero importance to communication skills. What is the point of learning a language if learners do not know how to use it in real life situations? Listening and speaking skills are two important skills that GTM undervalues. If Tearners do not understand what a person is saying, and if he/she cannot communicate with somebody from the target language, learning a language appears to be ineffective. Another weakness is that GTM does not teach learners cultural and social aspects of the target language population. Learning a language means learning a culture, which seemed to be devalued in GTM. Finally, GTM teaches grammar rules deductively. It means teachers explain rules and students learn the rules discreetly. They do not learn grammar rules in context. It is also thought that GTM classrooms are dominated by teacher-talk, which hinders students’ participation. If teachers can be facilitators, students’ participation and interaction will increase, and they will learn in a cooperative learning environment.

GTM can be used partially in a mono-lingual context like Bangladesh; but, teachers need to make sure that they are focusing on communication skills of learners. However, everything depends on the needs of learners. If learners want to develop reading skills, GTM can be used to some extent. If they want to develop listening and speaking skills, very little rooms are there to use GTM. All coins have two sides, and GTM has both strengths and weaknesses. Current teachers need to think “how” and “why” they would use a specific method.

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Biplob Prodhan
Founder of EDNOUB & Ednoub Private Program


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