What is the Grammar Translation Approach?

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Grammar Translation Approach - 1800s

In the 1800s language learners were mostly young rich men and they studied old languages like Greek and Latin to learn history and philosophy. They didn’t learn the language to talk to people… Students wanted to perfectly understand these old books and writings. The goal was to make them understand the ideas and philosophies of 200 years ago. The purpose was to make students better people, harder workers and pay close attention to details. Here are a few of the study techniques they used:

Back Translation: Students would translate a long story from Greek into English then back to Greek. This helped them perfectly understand the meaning of these old books and how to write this is English, but not really any speaking skills..  Some schools still use this to help students who are studying to be translators.

Comprehensive Reading: Students would also read long, long stories. The teacher would test their knowledge of the details of the story with "ABCD" or "fill-in-the-blank" questions.

Fill-in-Blank: Where _________ you from? ............... A) is B) as C) are

Fill-in-the blank exercises test your knowledge of grammar rules or if you know the meaning of words… This exercise won’t make you learn new words. It won’t help your spoken English. But this can be fun to test your knowledge of words and grammar.

Writing Compositions: Writing long passages (like 1,000-10,000 words) This again, is popular skill for college students and professional writers. It also helps build your brain power. But the truth is… People these days usually talk by email, text and apps like Facebook.

These days, most people don’t need to perfectly understand and translate every single grammar rule, how to perfectly translate long documents, or write 10,000 word papers logically and clearly. (Except maybe translators for things like law, medicine, or technology)…. Most language learners just need to understand (or explain) the main ideas of the conversation. However, if you go to college or take a test like TOEFL, IELTS and SAT you will need to build these skills.

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