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The Grammar Translation Method

Didactics

Professor: Julio Montaño

Presented by: Alejandro Cifuentes
John Harvin Zapata

University Libre
August 6 of 2012

The Grammar Translation Method

Definition
In applied linguistics, the grammar translation method is a foreign language
teaching method derived from the classical (sometimes called traditional) method
of teaching Greek andLatin.

Objective
The method requires students to translate whole texts word-by-word and memorize
numerous grammatical rules and exceptions as well as enormous vocabulary lists.

Characteristics
-The goal of this method is to be able to read and translate literary masterpieces
and classics.
- Classes are conducted in the native language.
- A chapter in a distinctive textbook of thismethod would begin with a massive
bilingual vocabulary list.
- Grammar points would come directly from the texts and be presented contextually
in the textbook, to be explained elaborately by the instructor.
- Tedious translation and grammar drills would be used to exercise and strengthen
the knowledge without much attention to content.
- Grammar provides the rules for assembling words intosentences.
- Translation interprets the words and phrases of the foreign languages in the best
possible manner.
- The phraseology and the idioms of the target language can best be assimilated in
the process of interpretation.
- The structures of the foreign languages are best learned when compared and
contrast with those of first language.
- Sentences would be deconstructed and translated.
-Entire texts would be translated from the target language into the native language
and tests would often ask students to replicate classical texts in the target
language.
- Very little attention is placed on pronunciation or any communicative aspects of
the language.

Background
Throughout Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, the education system was
formed primarily around a concept calledfaculty psychology. In brief, this theory
dictated that the body and mind were separate and the mind consisted of three
parts: the will, emotion, and intellect. It was believed that the intellect could be
sharpened enough to eventually control the will and emotions. The way to do
this was through learning classical literature of the Greeks and Romans, as well
as mathematics. Additionally, anadult with such an education was considered
mentally prepared for the world and its challenges. In the 19th century, modern
languages and literature began to appear in schools. It was believed that teaching
modern languages was not useful for the development of mental discipline and
thus they were left out of the curriculum. In the United States of America, the basic
foundations of thismethod were used in most high school and college foreign
language classrooms and were eventually replaced by the audio-lingual method
among others.
At the height of the Communicative Approach to language learning in the 1980s
and early 1990s it became fashionable in some quarters to deride so-called "oldfashioned"
methods and, in particular, something broadly labelled "Grammar
Translation".There were numerous reasons for this but principally it was felt that
translation itself was an academic exercise rather than one which would actually
help learners to use language, and an overt focus on grammar was to learn about
the target language rather than to learn it.
As with many other methods and approaches, Grammar Translation tended to
be referred to in the past tense as if it nolonger existed and had died out to be
replaced world-wide by the fun and motivation of the communicative classroom. If
we examine the principal features of Grammar Translation, however, we will see
that not only has it not disappeared but that many of its characteristics have been
central to language teaching throughout the ages and are still valid today.

Analysis
A number of methods and...
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