Teaching Writing Using GTM

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By, M. Syahruzzaky Romadloni

Grammar-Translation Method (GTM) is considered the oldest language teaching method ever existed. As it emerged before the development of linguistics, it didn’t base its practices on the sound theoretical underpinnings. However, this method is still practiced in some English courses for specific purposes, especially for understanding particular foreign literatures.

The goal of GTM is to understand the written form of a particular language through exploring its literature. That’s way in GTM writing becomes a dominant skill that students should master in the early phase of language teaching. It is usually incorporated with the teaching of reading skill. The students usually have some writing tasks after they have studied a particular passage. Larsen-Freeman, Dianne (2008) writes, “The primary skills to be developed are reading and writing. Little attention is given to speaking and listening, and almost none to pronunciation.” Furthermore, Richards, Jack C. and Theodore S. Rodgers (2002) say, “Reading and writing are the major focus; little or no systematic attention is paid to speaking or listening.”

Likewise reading and writing skills, vocabulary and grammar become dominant language elements taught in GTM. The former is taught by listing some L2 words and its translation in L1 while the latter is presented deductively. Consequently, teaching writing using this method requires accuracy both in grammatical patterns and in word choices. Quoting Howatt, Richards, Jack C. and Theodore S. Rodgers (2002) say,

Accuracy is emphasized. Students are expected to attain high standards in translation, because of the high priority attached to meticulous standards of accuracy which, as well having an intrinsic moral value, was a perquisite for passing the increasing number of formal written examinations that grew up during the century.

Practically, teaching writing using this method can be carried out by asking the students to compose an essay in particular topics, especially related to the passage that had been discussed. Instead of that, they also can be assigned to write a precise of it. Larsen-Freeman, Dianne (2008) writes, “The teacher gives the students a topic or to write about in the target language. The topic is based upon some aspect of the reading passage of the lesson. Sometimes, instead of creating a composition, students are asked to prepare a précis of the reading passage.”

Summing up, GTM considers grammar and vocabulary important elements to be emphasized in teaching writing. This method, according to my opinion, is more appropriately practiced in the advanced learner class whose purpose is to understand the literature of the particular language. The extensive use of the logic is another reason why this method suits this group of learners.

References:

  1. Larsen-Freeman, Diane. (2008). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. Richards, Jack C. dan Theodore S. Rodgers. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

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