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TESOL Videos - Theories, Methods & Techniques of Teaching - Grammar Translation
The purpose of grammar translation then is to basically translate between L1 and L2 and vice versa. So, we could take a simple example. Let's imagine that our native language was English and our target language was French and let's assume that we want to translate a document from French into English. Let's take a simple sentence. Here's a sentence in French "Ouvre la fenêtre" and we'll add "s'il vous plaît" at the end. What we want to do is to take this L2 and translate it back into English. Now, if we have a reasonable knowledge of French then we may well know that this particular verb "ouvre" "to open" translates directly and this female form of the and finally the fenêtre "Open the window" and this polite form of "please". This is all very well if the two structures that we're translating between the L1 and L2 have a common grammar, which French and English usually do. However, one problem that we do get with this particular classical method, is that if the grammar structures are not the same, then it's very difficult to translate between the two things.
This is what one of our TEFL graduates feels he has gained from the course, or a part of it, and how he plans to put into action what he has learned.
I learned that effective listening and reading skills are important, and there are methods for teaching them. For one, as soon as the class is advanced enough, they can try to listen/read material created in English for an English speaking audience. Of course, this requires ample preparation, and certain vocabulary and grammar points may be discussed before the exercise. This can be handled by pre-teaching certain troublesome vocabulary/grammar before-hand. Of course, simply understanding the words is only a small part of the goals of the exercise. After all, language exists in order to communicate meaning. The teacher should be prepared to determine that his/her students have not only successfully \"translated\" the piece, but that the students have deeper comprehension. This may be done in a variety of ways such as answering questions about the content of the piece. Another point that must be considered is that in order for the material to be effective, it must also be engaging. This ensures that the student pays attention, and is more likely to digest the material than if they found the material boring. There is a downside to this, though, and that is that teaching receptive skills is slightly easier than more active skills. After all, almost all the work done is more passive with worksheets, drills, and various other activities. For example, I am familiar with Anglo-saxon. I can readily read a large portion of written Anglo-Saxon, but I can barely, if at all, form a very basic sentence. Still, these must be done--especially listening. Reading is important, but it has the benefit of being able to return to the material, and review it. Also, the student does not have to deal with different accents, and various other problems that may arise from listening.