In teaching languages, Grammar Translation Method has been used by language teacher for centuries. It is believed as one of the most popular methods in teaching languages. Many people believe that Grammar Translation Method is one of the oldest methods in teaching languages especially in teaching English.
It was firstly recognized at Middle Ages in teaching Latin, which was the dominant language in Europe at that time. Grammar Translation Method was also known as Classical Method.
When using Grammar Translation Method, the teaching and learning process is focused on written text because it is aimed to make students able to read texts. The aims are:
1. To develop logical thinking.
2. To develop intellectual capacities and to have a generally educational and civilizing effect.
3. To develop, at least in the better learners, an ability to read original texts in the language concerned.
4. To develop the standard of learners’ L1.
From the points above, it is clear that Grammar Translation Method is not aimed to make students able to use the language orally but on comprehension of text.
It is known that Grammar Translation Method instructs students in grammar and provides list of vocabulary with direct translations to memorize.
It is typical of this approach, therefore, to place emphasis on the rote memory learning of long lists of bilingual ‘vocabulary equations, and on the learning of explicit rules of grammar, frequently in form of tables for declension and conjugation of nouns and verbs.
From the opinion above, it can be assumed that grammar and vocabulary are the main aspects to be taught in teaching languages by using Grammar Translation Method. Students have to memorize the long list of vocabularies. They spend much time in understanding the grammar rules of language. Moreover, if the students have already mastered grammar rules and memorized vocabularies, they are expected to be able to write texts in the target language and to translate their native language texts into the target language correctly and vice versa. It is clear that this method has little or no attention to speaking or pronunciation.
B. The Characteristics of Grammar Translation Method
As a method, Grammar Translation Method has principles. Some principles of Grammar Translation Method are:
a. Translation interprets the words and phrases of the foreign languages in the best possible manner.
b. The phraseology and the idiom of the language can best be assimilated in the process of interpretation.
c. The structures of the foreign languages are best learned when compared and contrast with those of mother tongue.
From the principles above, the writer assumes that this method considers that the mother tongue should be involved in learning other languages. This method assumes that mother tongue or native language can help students when they learn other languages. For example, the students’ mother tongue is involved when they translate the target language to their native language or vice versa. In addition, the students’ mother tongue is also needed because students compare and contrast the structure of the target language to their native language. By comparing and contrasting the target language to their native language, students are expected to be able to study and analyze the structure of the target language.
Grammar Translation Method has features:
a. A careful analysis of the target written language, particularly its grammar.
b. The grammar rules are presented and learned clearly.
c. From bilingual word lists, vocabulary is learned.
d. A paramount use of translation exercises.
e. The medium of instruction is mother language.
f. Less or no attention is paid to speaking and listening skills.
Based on these features, students are aimed to study language pattern or grammar. If a text is read, the main point to be learnt is the structure. In other words, a text is read by students to study grammar, and it is analyzed and learned carefully. Translating the texts is frequently used as an exercise. The target language vocabularies are learned by knowing their meanings in the native language. These vocabularies are memorized by students. Speaking and listening skills are considered as insignificant skills to be learned. There are almost no speaking and listening tasks or exercises. Even the medium of instruction in the class is the students’ mother tongue.
In this method, the use of target language as the medium of instruction is not required. The mother tongue will be the media that is used to explain and translate the target language in bilingual words.
From the explanation above, it is clear that the purpose of Grammar Translation Method is to make students to be able to analyze grammar of target language and to comprehend the text. It will be a good achievement for students if they are able to understand and to write a text grammatically, and they will be judged that they already master the language.