Grammar – Translation Method
Grammar Translation Method or Classical Method is the oldest method of teaching English in India. “Under the translation method, the meaning of English words, phrases, and sentences is taught by means of word – to –word translation into the mother tongue” says H. Champion. This method is known as Grammar Translation Method because the grammar of the new language is taught with the help of the grammar of the mother tongue. The major characteristics of this method are;
Ñ The unit of teaching is word
Ñ Mother tongue dominates
Ñ It lays emphasis on written language
Ñ It advocates the formal teaching of grammar
According to Thompson and Wyatt, this method is based on three sound principles.
X Translation interprets foreign methodology best
X In the process of interpretation the foreign phraseology is best assimilated
X The structure of a foreign language is best learnt when compared and contrasted with that of the mother tongue.
Arguments in favour of Translation Method
J Easy Method: This method is based on the maxim of learning from know to unknown. It is accordance with Apperceptive Theory which states, “Learning is to connect old and new ideas”. This method tries to establish a strong bond between foreign phraseology (new ideas) and mother tongue (old ideas).
J Saves teacher’s labour: It is economical as it saves time. Foreign phraseology can be quickly explained. Abstract words and phrases can be easily explained through mother tongue.
J Grammar is easily taught: The pupils can have a perfect mastery of written English, the spellings of English words and the formal grammar. It supports the notion of Faculty Psychologists who think that grammar disciplines the mind.
J Easy testing of Comprehension: Students can be asked to narrate what they learnt in mother – tongue. Thus it helps in testing comprehension. The pupils acquires the art of translation.
J Average level students and teachers: This method is highly useful for the students of average and below average level. Teachers with reasonable language proficiency can cope up with this method.
J Helps in Building Vocabulary: this method helps in the rapid expansion of vocabulary as it avoids difficult definitions and lengthy explanations. The vocabulary is economically and effectively acquired.
L Unnatural Method: The order of language skills is not properly followed as listening, speaking, reading and writing.
L Neglects Speech and Pattern practice: Since mother tongue is enormously used, it never leads to practice in English. Unless an English atmosphere is created, the student is tempted to speak in first language.
L Lack of Pronunciation skill: This method fails to teach correct articulation, intonation and pronunciation since there is no emphasis on listening, speaking and reading.
L Strong Emphasis on Writing: The strong emphasis on writing is without foundation. Because spoken language is the living, dynamic and evolving language. Written language cannot be the sole basis of language study.
L Exact Translation is Impossible: The words, idioms and phrases in English, which reflects the culture, tradition and customs of English people. They cannot be translated without losing their correct effect. Sometimes literal translation becomes ridiculous. As Champion points out, “The fundamental weakness of translation is that it prevents or retards the pupil from thinking in English”.
L Strong Emphasis on Formal Grammar: This method tries to teach English by rules and not by use. Dr. Bullard says, “To speak any language entirely by rule is quite impossible”.
Suggestions for Improvement:
Ø While speaking English, teachers should speak it with correct pronunciation and use grammatically correct sentences.
Ø Teachers should put more emphasis on those points in which Indian vernaculars differ from English.
Ø Reading practice should be made compulsory for all students. That should be properly monitored properly by the teacher.