Definitio – Grammar/Translation


Received wisdom is that the grammar-translation method was abandoned decades ago. Googling ’grammar-translation’, I found numerous articles, and the Wikipedia one showed signs of being written by someone in the communicative camp, just by the wording.

All the articles I looked at were not praising G/T. The Wiki article has a good background on what G/T was based on in terms of learning theory. That is crucial to read.

The reason is that many aspects of G/T are still used in fl classrooms and the underlying basis in learning psychology is still invoked, esp by Latin teachers. The notion that the cognitive ’wrestling’ with grammar sharpens the mind is frequently invoked in recommending the study of Latin. The same would, I presume, be true for the study of any language except that many proponents of Latin study believe Latin to be some sort of special language, different in essentials or in quality from other languages. If I were king, I would conduct a survey of Latin teachers to see how many of them believe no modern languages use a system of endings to show case.

The study of languages, or, as the Wiki article puts it, studying ’about’ languages cannot be condemned. Most people reading this entry of mine probably enjoy studying grammar. The question in applied linguistics i.e. the teaching of fl, is, is it effective? Is it efficient? What are its results?

Here are a couple of urls re G/T:

The last one has interesting detail on the proponents of G/T in the early 19th century and is
a little more sympathetic in its treatment.

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