The term "grammar-translation method"

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Eeli Kaikkonen
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The term "grammar-translation method"

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » December 31st, 2019, 2:40 pm

The term "grammar-translation method" has been used often in this forum. I think it has even been thought that we have invented it here. But I'm just doing some random reading and found this article from EAGLL:

https://www.academia.edu/40811004/ENCYC ... ng_Methods

Here's a quote:
The grammar-translation approach, which involved the word for word translation of the ancient text in a modern language, suggests a synthetic method for simple texts and an analytic method for more challenging texts. In the former, the ancient lexicon is replaced with words from the modern language without changing the word order or the text structure. In the latter case, the rational sequence of the text is studied so that the students can generally understand its meaning, overcome any difficulties and translate it.

Modern methods, on the other hand, move towards a more holistic approach to language, based on the autonomy of genres and the active and creative participation of students in the translation process.
Whoever started to use the term here, apparently knew it from somewhere else.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: The term "grammar-translation method"

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » December 31st, 2019, 6:28 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
December 31st, 2019, 2:40 pm
The term "grammar-translation method" has been used often in this forum.

... snip ...

Whoever started to use the term here, apparently knew it from somewhere else.
I think of "grammar-translation" as referring to the whole system of NT exegesis used at the seminaries I was familiar with in the fourth quarter of the 20th century. Gordon Fee's book which went through several editions made a preliminary translation the first step in exegesis.
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Peng Huiguo
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Re: The term "grammar-translation method"

Post by Peng Huiguo » January 1st, 2020, 4:44 am

That article linked above reminds me of a formalism vs post-structuralism debate I had in aesthetics class a long time ago.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: The term "grammar-translation method"

Post by Barry Hofstetter » January 1st, 2020, 10:04 am

I've seen the term used quite often in discussions of Latin teaching methodology, especially in contrast with TPRS and CI.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Paul-Nitz
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Re: The term "grammar-translation method"

Post by Paul-Nitz » January 12th, 2020, 11:05 am

"Grammar-Translation method" is used widely outside of Biblical Studies. The method had its birth with Latin and Greek instruction, but widely was applied to other languages.

E.g., Larsen-Freeman and Anderson's book on living language learning describes the "Grammar-Translation method."

“Grammar rules are presented with examples. Exceptions to each rule are also noted. Once students understand a rule, they are asked to apply it to some different examples” (2011, pg. 21).

Prator and Celce-Murcia in Teaching English as a Second Foreign Language (1979) describes main features of the Grammar-Translation method,

1) Classes are taught in the mother tongue, with little active use of the target language.
2) Much vocabulary is taught in the form of lists of isolated words.
3) Long elaborate explanations of the intricacies of grammar are given.
4) Grammar provides the rules for putting words together, and instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words.
5) Reading of difficult classical texts is begun early.
6) Little attention is paid to the content of texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical analysis.
7) Often the only drills are exercises in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue.
8) Little or no attention is given to pronunciation.
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RandallButh
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Re: The term "grammar-translation method"

Post by RandallButh » January 13th, 2020, 4:39 am

ναί. That is GT, Paul.
A guaranteed way to slow down the internalization of French, German, or any other language, and possibly to prevent internalization altogether. (Note the outcome after 20 years teaching GT. By their fruit they are known.)

GT "works" when the student finally gets many a month to use the language in a communicative context. In other words, GT "works" when a person gets a huge dose of CLT (Communicative language learning). But in CLT a person can still cover everything that is in the structure of the language, but they do it in the language itself. The students get internalization and the structure. Caveat: at beginning stages it is not healthy to focus on structures but on meaning.

So why GT at all? It is easy to "teach." The burden is put on the students. Roll call is taken. The teacher gets to talk about abstract parameters and exceptions. Students just have to suck it up.
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Paul-Nitz
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Re: The term "grammar-translation method"

Post by Paul-Nitz » January 13th, 2020, 5:49 am

RandallButh wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 4:39 am
GT "works" when the student finally gets many a month to use the language in a communicative context.
I'd like to expand a bit on what ὁ ΜΔ Buth says. I agree with him, but there's more to say.

There are those who the Latinist CLT teachers call the "four percenters." I've never seen research that gave them this number. I think it's become a short-cut for talking about the few who succeed at learning through the Grammar-Translation method. They are that minority of learners who have high self-motivation, who have long working memories, who are high visual learners (the kind of people we usually call "really smart"), and who therefore can hold enough of the rules, exceptions, and paradigms in their head so that when they then engage in the "communication" of reading intensively, they attain to a degree of genuine comprehension of a language. I am not talking about those who simply excel at treating the language as code to be deciphered. The litmus test for those who have attained a level of comprehension is whether they can fairly easily do simple output. For example, can they say "I went to the city" in Greek without serious mental contortions.

These four percenters can still benefit from Communicative Language Teaching since it will expose them to ways of engaging with the language they have not experienced before (e.g. being in the position of deciding which word or construction to use in communication).

In contrast, we can say without qualification that normal learners (the 96%-ers, I suppose) can learn Greek via communicative methods. If they understand and speak one language well, they have proven ability to learn another. The biggest obstacle they have is nerves, the affective filter that tells them they cannot succeed, often based on some language learning myths (learning language means tons of memorizing, you can't learn language after age x, only smart people know multiple languages, etc.).

Those 96%-ers can still benefit from grammar and translation exercises since it may consolidate some learning they have acquired and clarify some confusing interference they might have from their first language.

Even if Greek is studied only through the grammar-translation method, there are some benefits:
1. Appreciation of the potential value of reading Scripture in the original.
2. Ability to understand the commentary and exegesis of others.
3. Understanding the hermeneutical limitations of translations.
4. A better sense of languages in general.[/list]

The benefit for those who study Greek as a language and as communication, and who also are motivated and stick to regular patterns of study, will be that they end up reading Greek. By "reading" we mean reading in the natural sense of the word. There may be pauses and mistakes and some reference help may be needed while reading, but the end result is "reading" (not contiguous parsing, sentence diagramming, and explanations that require special knowledge of esoteric terms). A litmus test for genuine reading is "Are your eyes ahead of your mouth?" If so, you're probably doing the kind of genuine reading that results from learning a language as communication.

If you have gotten there by means other than communicative methods, I applaud you and am awed by your raw intelligence and grit. For somewhat less intelligent and less gritty people like me, CLT offers a great option.
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RandallButh
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Re: The term "grammar-translation method"

Post by RandallButh » January 13th, 2020, 6:06 am

Yes, those 4 points are benefits of GT, though not unique to GT.

Yes, the "4%" will benefit from CLT. βεβαίως.

On the 4%, I'm not sure that such exist. That is, all people need to use the language in order to learn the language. A lot. Probably a 2000 hours in the language itself. Maybe 3000 hours.
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Paul-Nitz
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Re: The term "grammar-translation method"

Post by Paul-Nitz » January 13th, 2020, 6:42 am

RandallButh wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 6:06 am
On the 4%, I'm not sure that such exist.
I think some do exist, with the qualification I mentioned.
Paul-Nitz wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 5:49 am
...so that when they then engage in the "communication" of reading intensively, they attain to a degree of genuine comprehension of a language.
The main point is that while very few learners succeed with Grammar-Translation method, the majority can succeed learning a language via communicative methods.

Research and numbers to back that statement up are hard to come by because the Grammar-Translation method is considered (and even labeled) as an "historic method." It is not even considered as an option by anyone who might conduct research, that is, anyone who knows anything about Instructed Second Language Acquisition.

That's not to say that the Grammar-Translation method it not still widely used in teaching living languages. Buth gives the reason why,
RandallButh wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 4:39 am
It is easy to "teach." The burden is put on the students. Roll call is taken. The teacher gets to talk about abstract parameters and exceptions. Students just have to suck it up.
It is the default "easy lesson" to turn to. I've done it myself when I'm unprepared for class. Communicative methods (CLT) require preparation for every class, no matter how many years you've taught. I have to react to these learners' learning and progress. I need to compose stories that speak to and communicate to this group of learners. I need to find tasks for them to use the language in actual communication. That's not easy when teaching French, but it's much harder to do in Ancient Greek.

If the only Greek teaching that can take place is Grammar-Translation method, let it be. Better than nothing. Some may succeed and others will not go away without any benefit at all. But if an institution or a learner wants efficient, enjoyable, rewarding learning to take place... there's another way.
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Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi

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