A Feasibility Analysis Study on the Improvement of Grammar—Translation Method


校园英语·上旬 2018年5期

【Abstract】With the development of the society, people have more and more chances to contact with the foreigners. So they are eager to communicate with them in English, but most of them do not have enough communicative competence because they neglected the audio-ability under the Test-oriented education. However, in Chinese practical situation, students learn English just for all kinds of examinations. So the Grammar-Translation method was used in the English teaching especially in rural schools. Now the demerits of the Grammar-Translation method gradually appeared. This paper presented the theoretical basis of integrating the Grammar-Translation Method with Communicative Approach(CA) to make up for the demerits of the traditional approach. Then, the author will prove the possibility of combination the Grammar-Translation Method with CA in the practical teaching.

【Key words】English teaching; Grammar-Translation Method; CA


China has the largest number of English learners and long history of English teaching and learning, so how to improve English teaching efficiency is a problem that researchers were and are working hard to solve. Because of the influence of Test-oriented Education, many of the government or educational administrative departments, and persons of all social circles always regard the rate of higher school admission as the only standard of assessing educational quality. So it can be found English teaching is merely for tests and college examination. All the teaching activities are Test-oriented. As a result, the traditional approaches produced low teaching efficiency, for the senior school students, after learning English for five or six years, they still cant communicate in English efficiently, and even are too nervous to open their mouths, consequently they become deaf and mute in English. Here, the author did teaching practice in Changshun Middle School. According to her teaching practice and some research, she knows teachers still adopt Grammar-Translation Method. The qualities of students speaking and listening are poor. To solve this problem, the author tries to make good use of advantages of Grammar-Translation Method and CA. This paper will present the theoretical basis of integrating the Grammar-Translation Method with CA.

The Grammar-Translation Method is a method of foreign or second language teaching which uses translation and grammar study as the main teaching and learning activities. In Grammar-Translation Method, students study grammar and learn lists of vocabulary in order to translate texts. In classroom, teacher uses native language to explain grammar.

The Grammar-Translation Method, as a popular English teaching method, has some advantages (Li Tingxiang, 1983) as follow: (1). It makes use of the first language. In Grammar-Translation Method, the first language is maintained as the reference system in the learning of the second language. Translation from one language to another plays a certain part in language learning. In the Grammar-Translation Method, comparison between two languages helps students to have a better understanding of the meaning of abstract words and complicated sentences. (2). It helps the students develop reading comprehension and production of written language. Systematic study of grammatical rules plays an important role in fostering students ability of reading comprehension and producing grammatically correct sentences. Understanding and manipulating the morphology and syntax will develop students ability of analyzing and solving problems. (3). The focus on understanding literary texts provides the situation in which reading and writing abilities are well trained. (4). The Grammar-Translation Method is easy to use. It makes few demands on teachers although it often creates frustration for students. It is relatively easy to apply.

The coin has two sides. So the Grammar-Translation Method also has some disadvantages (Li Tingxiang, 1983) as follow: (1). Overemphasis on translation, dependence on first language: Overemphasis on translation can never emancipate the learners from dependence on the first language. (2). Too much emphasis on reading and writing, neglect of listening and speaking;(3). In the Grammar-Translation Method, it can not meet the communicative and practical needs of the students. A large number of grammatical rules can not ensure that students can use them appropriately in real communicative situation. The texts are mostly taken form literary works. The language learned often doesnt meet the practical needs of the learners. (4). Rote-learning grammar rules and bilingual vocabulary lists does not motivate students to actively communicate in the target language.

To be brief, the main features of Grammar-Translation Method are listed as follow: Firstly, it emphasizes the teaching of the second language grammar. Because grammar is regarded as the core of language and the teaching materials are arranged according to grammar system. The process of learning grammar is an important means of training mental abilities. Secondly, the focus of Grammar-Translation classroom is teaching and practices of grammar of the target language. Most of the teaching activities such as analysis, explanation and translation serve the purpose of mastering grammatical rules. Thirdly, the principal practice technique is translation from and into the target language. However, it neglects the students speaking and listening ability, which leads to the fact that the students cant use the language in the proper communicative environment. So the author wants to integrate the advantages of the CA to make up for the disadvantages of the Grammar-Translation Method.

The CA, namely Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), is a relatively new pedagogical system which originated in the 1970s, developed in the 1980s and has gained considerable currency in the 1990s. It has mainly the following two theoretical bases: Communicative language theory and Learning theory. In short, communicative competence is its designed goal, fluency and acceptable language is the primary goal. Accuracy is judged not in abstract but in context. The CA approaches are aimed at developing the “communicative competence” of learners. Teachers roles are communication facilitator, independent participant within the learning-teaching group, a researcher and a learner. Students role is negotiator between themselves, the learning process, and the object of learning (Richards & Rodgers, 2000). So the author would make good use of the advantages of the Grammar-Translation Method and the CA to improve the students all-round ability especially in China which has its own special language learning environment and education background.

Therefore in Chinas English classrooms, appropriate grammar analysis is essential, especially for beginners. Limited utilization of translation from or to the target language is an indispensable part of teaching. Vocabulary work and pattern drills are also ways of familiarizing students with sentence structures. But instead of teaching grammar traditionally and drilling grammar patterns, teachers need to relate teaching grammar and pattern drills to meaning and use. In other words, language structure practice should be used in contexts which involve some basic principles of appropriateness. What is crucial for learners to know is how grammar functions in alliance with words and contexts for the achievement of meaning (Widdowson, 1990). This is the exact area that the traditional ELT teaching has long been overlooked—teaching English for a communicative purpose.


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