The grammar–translation method, or classical method, is a traditional teaching technique that was used to teach Latin and Greek and was particularly in vogue in the 16th century.
The focus was then on the translation of texts, grammar, and rote learning of vocabulary. There was no emphasis on speaking and listening comprehension because Latin and Greek were taught more as academic subjects than as means of oral communication.
The method is still common in many countries and institutions around the world and still appeals to those interested in languages from an intellectual or linguistic perspective. However, it does little to improve your ability to use the language for oral communication.
Principles and Goals
There are two main goals to grammar–translation classes. One is to develop students’ reading ability to a level where they can read literature in the target language. The other is to develop students’ general mental discipline.
Users of foreign language want to note things of their interest in the literature of foreign languages. Therefore, this method focuses on reading and writing and has developed techniques which facilitate more or less the learning of reading and writing only. As a result, speaking and listening are overlooked.
Grammar–translation classes are usually conducted in the students’ native language. Grammatical rules are learned deductively; students learn grammar rules by rote, and then practice the rules by doing grammar drills and translating sentences to and from the target language. More attention is paid to the form of the sentences being translated than to their content. When students reach more advanced levels of achievement, they may translate entire texts from the target language. Tests often involve translating classical texts.
There is usually no listening or speaking practice, and very little attention is placed on pronunciation or any communicative aspects of the language. The skill exercised is reading and then only in the context of translation. references: