Grammar Translation Method



  1. The definition and characteristics of Grammar Translation Method
According to Muljanto Sumardi, this method is combination of grammatical and translation method.[1] This opinion is in line with idea of Juwairiyah who calling it as a mixture method between grammatical method and translation method.[2]
Thus, this method is combination of grammatical method and translation method, which is dot weigh against to start the lesson with memorizing the grammatical later then compile the glossary and translating sentence by sentence.[3]
So it can be taken a conclusion that the definition of Grammar Translation Method is a combination of two kinds of English learning methods which the learning activity is emphasizing at the understanding of structure in order to reach reading, writing and translating skills.
a.      The Chronological Appearance of Grammar Translation Method
As one of method in learning the foreign language, this method has some different names as according to the language that making it as a method in learns it. When it's first time used in learning of classic language, that is: Latin and Greek, it's called as Classical Method.[4] In United States, this method is famous with term of Grammar-Translation Method. Although different way in mention it, but from the definition face of implementation principle of it basically is same be really.
The Grammar Translation method started around the time of Erasmus (1466-1536). Its primary focus is on memorization of verb paradigms, grammar rules, and vocabulary. Application of this knowledge was directed on translation of literary texts--focusing of developing students' appreciation of the target language's literature as well as teaching the language. Activities utilized in today's classrooms include: questions that follow a reading passage; translating literary passages from one language to another; memorizing grammar rules; memorizing native-language equivalents of target language vocabulary. (Highly structured class work with the teacher controlling all activities.)[5]
In growth of language learning which started at ancient Roman period had been begun learning Latin language until now, this method is the most used, and even in the years of 1840-1940 the implementation of this method had predominated among European people in learning foreign language.[6] But this method not yet emerged as a method which has owned characteristics.
Only at this 20th century, it's blazed for the first time as a method in foreign language learning, precisely in United States.
They are meritorious in declare it as a foreign language learning method is a commission which is has member of twelve faced people in learning of American language field. Because the membership of amounting twelve people so this commission is famous with the title Twelve Commission.[7]
The background overshadow the blazing of this method is pursuant to Twelve Commission report which appointed by Modern Language Association of America in 1892 to give suggestions in curriculum field and study of language at National Education Association[8]
As for among the commission reports which looked into very have an effect on in language teaching method is:
…...The ability to converse should not be regarded as a thing of primary importance for its own sake but as an auxiliary to the higher ends of linguistic scholarship and literary culture.[9]
In English learning, then this method we recognize with term of Grammar-Translation Method. The implementation of this method in English learning as the second language which most studied in the world, had shown the existence of it in yielding English learning ability not only actively but also passively, that is skillful in reading and writing.
b.      The Purpose of Grammar Translation Method
Diana Larsen-Freeman tells that the purpose of this method is to help the students in reading and to appreciate the foreign language literatures.[10]
c.       The Characteristics of Grammar Translation Method
As one of the method in English learning, Grammar Translation Method has special characteristics which make it different with the other methods. This matter is important to be known in order the implementation of it in English learning can be adapted by the materials and the target which will be reached.
According to Jack C. Richard and Theodore S. Rodger, mentioned that the special characteristics of this method are:
  1. The goal foreign language study is to learn a language in order to read its literature or in order to benefit from the mental discipline and intellectual development that result from foreign language study.
  2. Reading and writing are the major focus.
  3. Vocabulary selection is based solely on the reading text used, and words are thought through bilingual word lists, dictionary study, and memorization.
  4. The sentence is the basic unit of teaching and language practice.
  5. Accuracy is emphasized.
  6. Grammar is taught deductively.
  7. The student's native language is the medium of instruction.[11]
According to Muljanto Sumardi, the characteristics of Grammar Translation Method among others are:
  1. The grammar taught is the formal grammar.
  2. The vocabulary depended on the materials which have been selected.
  3. The learning activities consist of memorization of grammars, words translation without context, then short readings translation, interpretation.
  4. The utterance practice not given, even so given just only once in a while.[12]
Based on the characteristics, it can be concluded that the characteristics of Grammar Translation Method are:
1)      Grammar explanation formally and vocabulary translating according to selected reading.
2)      The main practices in learning are English words and the position and also sentences translation into Indonesian or on the contrary.
3)      The language skills which have watched are reading, writing, and translating skills.
4)      The mother tongue used as medium of instruction.
5)      Give priority to have language ability passively
d.      The Excess and Insufficiency of Grammar Translation Method
Every method which used in a learning process surely has insufficiency and excess, so also with Grammar Translation Method. In the implementation of it, there are two important things which be consideration of it, that is from the excess and insuffiency sides, for example like to be told below:
a.                              The Excess
1.      Easy in the implementing of it because doesn't need much time.
2.      In growing discipline mentality.
3.      The instructor doesn't need mastering the taught materials during he memorizes the existing methods in selected book and also has exchequer of adequate vocabulary.
4.      Producing language learning of mastering language ability passively.
5.      The students get knowledge from the both items (Grammar and Translation) intactly and unconsciously by them. This matter is caused by the implementation of both methods which taught at the same time.
6.      Easy in compilation of evaluation materials.[13]
b.                              The Insufficiency
1.      Ingnoring the main skill that is speaking skill because the base understanding of language is to speak orally or dialogue.
2.      The students cleverless in using the language actively, it means they cannot speak in English fluently and smooth.
3.      The reached skills only limited to cleverness of understanding reading materials, writing and translating.
4.      Giving the lack of instructor creativity because the taught items or materials there were in book.


[1] Muljanto Sumardi, Pengajaran Bahasa Asing, (Jakarta: Bulan Bintang, 1975), p. 37.
[2] Juwairiyah, Metode Belajar Mengajar Bahasa Arab, (Surabaya: Al-Ikhlas, 1992), p. 114.
[3] Ibid., p. 37.
[4] Diane Larsen Freeman, Techniques And Principles In Language Teaching, (England: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 4.
[5]Ver Esta Pagina En Espanol,"Teaching Methods and Correlation to Learning in the Language Classroom", http://ivc.uidaho.edu
[6] Jack. C. Richard and Theodore S. Rodgers, Approaches And Methods In Language Teaching, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 8.
[7] Muljanto Sumardi, Op. cit., p. 25.
[8] Ibid., p. 25.
[9] Ibid., p. 26.
[10] Diane Larsen-Freeman, Loc. cit.
[11] Jack C. Richard and Theodore S. Rodger, Op. Cit, p. 7-8
[12] Muljanto Sumardi, Op.Cit, p. 37
[13]  Muljanto Sumardi, Op.Cit, p. 39.

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