Marti Vallve

My teaching approach

Comparison between The Grammar Translation Method and The Communicative language Teaching Method.



A teacher has to decide on a method to be used in a classroom which he/she thinks suitable for his or her class. Therefore, it’s important for a teacher to know different kinds of  teaching methods and techniques to choose from. There are many kinds of methods and approaches to language teaching. Among them, commonly used methods are:


Grammar Translation Method, The Direct Method , The Communicative Language Teaching Method, The Audio Lingual Method , The Functional Approach , Task-Based Learning, Vaughn Systems, The Callan Method, etc…….


In this essay, I’m going to compare The Grammar Translation Method( which probably is the oldest teaching English method and derives from the traditional or classical method of teaching Greek and Latin), with The Communicative Language Teaching Method which seems to be the first one aimed to enable students to communicate in the real world in a foreign language.


                       Grammar Translation Method


Grammar Translation Method  believes that students should learn the target language’s grammar and also learn how to translate literary texts from native language to target language or vice versa. This method puts emphasis on memorization of vocabulary and grammar rules.


The principles of Grammar Translation Method are:


-       A fundamental purpose of learning a foreign language is to learn to read its literature.

-       Its main goal is to enable students to read or write in the target language. No emphasis  is given on speaking and listening skills.

-       Vocabulary is memorized from bilingual lists.

-       The main focus is on sentence translation; afterwards it goes to passages and short texts.

-       Grammar is taught deductively. Native language is used to explain grammar’s rules.


The techniques used are :



Reading comprehension questions.

Antonyms and synonyms.

Cognates.(only if the languages have cognates).    

Deductive applications of rules.( grammar’s rules of the target language are explained first and then the examples of the rules are given. Students are required to find out more examples which are similar to the examples provided.)

Fill in the blank.


Use of words in a sentence. (Students have to make sentences with new memorized Vocabulary)




                                  Communicative Language Teaching Method


The Communicative language teaching method became important since its main objective is to communicate in the target language.(No use of the native language).


The principles of Communicative Language Teaching Method are:


-Communication in the target language and focusing on its real use, is the main idea.

-Learning  vocabulary and grammar is functional and by the situational context.

-Ability to find out  the meaning of the communicator’s intentions is an important part of communicative competence.

-Students’ ideas and opinions are given importance.

 -Errors are seen as a natural outcome of the learning process and priority is given to fluency.


The techniques used are :


Materials. Teachers use materials from real life, newspapers, articles, television and radio broadcasts etc…(Students can get an idea of the real use of language.)

Role play. Student have to deal with a real situation.( usually with unpredictable responses).

Scrambled sentence. Students are required to structure or organize the sentences in a right and meaningful way from the scrambled text or passage.

Language game. Games are always enjoyed by students.( For example: students don’t know what their classmates are going to do during the weekend. They have to guess it.

They can form two groups. Each of the speakers will receive feedback or information from the other group. If the guess or prediction is correct the group gets points.)

Picture strip story. In this technique one student will take a strip story. He or she will show the first picture of the story to the other students; And they will guess what the second picture would look like. The picture strip activity works also as a problem solving task in the communicative technique.



As we can see the first method (G.T.M)  focuses only on reading and writing skills whereas the second one (C.L.T.M) seems more suitable for today’s demand , where speaking and listening skills have become also vital. Nevertheless, there are some techniques from The Grammar Translation Method which some English teachers still consider vital like being able to memorize at least some irregular verbs (Present, past and past participle).



September 15, 2011


Martí Vallve 


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