ESL Term:

Grammar Translation Method

ESL/EFL Glossary: A Guide to applied linguistics terminology.


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grammar translation method: 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.

Much scholarship has been spent on debunking this form of teaching.  Sadly, it is still in use in some parts of Asia. It has produced generations of students who could trip up native-speaking teachers on questions of grammar, yet couldn't engage in simple conversations.

However, no method should be entirely discarded.  Some have claimed that aspects of this method are useful in teaching writing.