How to Use the Grammar Translation Method

This article enumerates the goals and briefly explains the six characteristics of the Grammar Translation Method. It also provides some ideas on how to use the grammar translation method in teaching English as a second or foreign language.

Goals of Grammar Translation Method

The goals of the Grammar Translation Method (GTM) are:

To enable the students to:

  1. read literature in a target language, and
  2. memorize grammar rules and vocabulary of the target language.

The target language is a foreign language which a person intends to learn.

Characteristics of the Grammar Translation Method

The following are the six characteristics of the Grammar Translation Method:

1. Focuses on Reading and Writing

The primary focus of GTM is on reading and writing with little or no systematic attention to listening and speaking.

Here is an excellent tip by OnTESOL on how to read with comprehension.

TESOL: Teaching reading skills.

OnTESOL tips on how to teach reading skills with comprehension, among others.

2. Uses Vocabulary Words

Vocabulary words are chosen from the reading text used. Teachers teach vocabulary words through memorization, bilingual word list, and dictionary.

3. Uses the Sentence as the Basic Unit of Teaching

The basic unit of teaching and language practice is the sentence. Most of the lesson is in sentence translation from and into the target language.

4. Adopts a Deductive Approach

how to use the grammar translation method
GTM emphasizes reading and writing.

Deductive method is used in grammar. Rules are presented and studied. Then, students will practice through translation exercises.

5. New Terms are Explained in the Native Language

New grammatical or vocabulary items in the target language are explained in students’ native language to compare the target language and the students’ native language.

6. Emphasizes Accuracy

Students are expected to attain high standards in translation. They must be accurate in translating the sentences into their target language and vice-versa.

How to Use The Grammar Translation Method: Some Teaching Ideas

With the goals and characteristics of the GTM, the following activities can be done in the classroom:

  1. Ask the students to take 5 vocabulary words from their favorite song and then translate it into English.
  2. In teaching a particular lesson in grammar, ask the students to memorize the rules, and they should give their sentences as samples.
  3. Ask the students to take down their friends’ conversations in their native language and then translate it into English.
  4. Ask students to write 10 verbs from the article assigned to them, and then they should give the synonyms and antonyms.
  5. Ask students to memorize at least 5 words per day in English and give their native language equivalent.

Some school administrators or teachers may disagree with the idea of using the native language in explaining vocabulary words or grammar rules because they want the students to be exposed only to the target language to acquire and master it effectively.

However, there is no hard and fast rule of what is the best method or strategy. It would be best if the teacher will use different ways and find out what is suited to his/her students by conducting action research.

Action research can help improve the learning process of people learning a new language. It seeks to improve the English language teachers on their skills, techniques, and strategies to enable students to learn the target language quickly. It aims to do things better through enhanced instruction.

So, for those who would like to work on this as action research, what are you waiting for? These tips on how to use the grammar translation method can jumpstart your research activity.


Villamin, A.M., Salazar, E.L., Bala, E.C., & N.R. Sunga (1994). Innovative strategies in communication arts. Quezon City: Phoenix Publishing House, Inc.

© 2015 January 10 M. G. Alvior | Updated 1 December 2020


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