Grammar Translation Method- Meaning, Merits, Demerits & Techniques

Grammar Translation Method is a method of learning any foreign language by the practice of translating or converting the sentences of the native language into the target language or vice versa. In GTM classes, students learn grammar rules of the foreign language and try to apply those rules to the native language to convert it into the foreign one.

Advanced classes of GTM enable students to convert the whole paragraph even, word to word, and to advance their intellectual development. Basically, learning any foreign languages and mental discipline and Language translation has a goal of enabling the students to learn the foreign literature in its original form. In this article, the concept of the grammar translation method will be discussed and some techniques or approaches used in translation will be thoroughly explained.

Characteristics of GTM:-

  • It helps to learn a foreign language and its correct sentence structure.
  • Allows the students to be able to read and write a new language.
  • To enable students to use interchangeable words and phrases.
  • They get to learn new vocabulary and new words.
  • It does not enable students’ skills in listening and speaking of foreign language.
  • GTM classes are primarily conducted in the mother tongue.
  • Focus on pronunciation and communication aspects is lesser than reading and writing.

The procedure of Grammar Translate Method –

  1. In the first step, a paragraph is read by a teacher, and some difficult words are marked out of it.
  2. Secondly, these marked words are converted into the native language of students.
  3. Then, a paragraph is read once again and is translated by a teacher, line by line.
  4. Then all the Grammatical items are taught about to students.
  5. Students can also be asked to convert the passage of their native language into a foreign language to make it more clear to them.

Merits of Grammar Translation Method

  • It makes the concept more clear and new words, phrases, and vocabulary is introduced.
  • Learning gets easy as the conduction is done in the native language.
  • It promotes the skills of reading and writing effectively.
  • For class conduction, very less teacher material aid is needed and also, this method can be taught in overcrowded classes.
  • Students feel comfortable as the mother tongue is used to teach any foreign language and they are free to ask the questions in between.

Demerits of Grammar Translation Method

  • One of the major disadvantages of GTM is that it restricts the skills of speaking and listening to a foreign language.
  • The natural order of learning any language is listening, speaking, reading, and writing. But, in GTM, reading is facilitated first.
  • Proper conversational skills in a foreign language still remain a hurdle.
  • GTM focuses on formal and bookish grammar rules. So it does not enhance proper learning of the foreign language.
  • It takes time to translate each and every word under GTM as students are well versed in their mother tongue and they need time to think to Translate.

Techniques of GTM

1. Filling the blanks

The teacher gives the exercises of some sentences or passages where some blanks will be there and students are asked to fill that missing words as per their own knowledge of translation or vocabulary of the foreign language.

These blanks can be out of the literary texts or the chapter which has been taught by the teacher previously.

2. Use words in sentences

This is a very common technique where the teacher gives some new words from the vocabulary to the students and students will be asked to make new sentences by using that word in their sentence. It is generally called make the sentences.

In this, the students are judged whether they have understood the new word correctly or whether they use the word in the sentence correctly or not.

3. Topic composition

In this technique, students are asked to write any passage on the given topic by the teacher. They will be expected to write a few lines about the topic.

4. Passage translation

In contrary to the previous point, a passage or a piece of text will be provided to the students and they will be asked to translate that whole passage, word to word, in their notebooks via writing or speaking.

The main aim of passage translation is to make them understand that the grammar of the native language and foreign language is different and the word usage should be accurately done.

5. Comprehension questions

This technique is generally used in teaching any foreign language. In this, an unseen passage will be given to the students out of which they will be asked some questions and they are expected to answer that questions in their native language or the foreign language whatever they want.

The main purpose of this technique is to find out that whether the students are able to translate the passage in their language and able to find out the answers.

6. Word meanings

The grammar translation method can never be complete without the knowledge of proper vocabulary and some important words of the foreign language. So this is one of the techniques where the teacher makes the students memorize all the difficult vocabulary on their own and students are expected to learn those words in order to translate them if they are found out in the lines anywhere in the texts of foreign language.

7. Inference building

This is again, one of the common and widely used practice by the teachers to teach grammar translation method to the students. In this technique, again, a literary text will be provided to the students out of their books. They will be asked to write the central idea of the passage in their own words.

In this way, they will be able to translate the passage and they can write something in foreign language in their own words too.

8. Summary writing

Similar to the previous point, a chapter will be discussed among the students in the mother tongue. At the end of the chapter, students will be given the exercise of writing a summary of that story or chapter. It is one of the common techniques to teach GTM to the students and it is widely accepted.

Just like writing a central idea, the summary is much more than that. It aids the students in translating and writing the text in a foreign language in their own words.


GTM is not away from criticisms too. Many authors and literary heads have condemned this approach as they believed that, this method just facilitates reading and writing skills but does not focus on conversational skills.

It also makes the students dull and boring as they get habitual of translating each line word by word and do not get quick in translation. This method also takes much time to translate.

Moreover, despite learning the vocabulary of a new language, they will not be much able to communicate with others as they only know how to write and take time for it. That’s why, I hear many of the students saying, “mam, can we write instead of speaking?”


GTM is nothing but a method of teaching any foreign language in its simplest way. It is one of the oldest methods used since ages to teach Latin or Greek languages and now, modern languages too. English as a foreign language can be easily learned with this method.

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