People began learning a foreign language virtually as soon as speech emerged, and they are still actively studying it today. The dilemma of "how do I learn or teach a foreign language?" has always plagued students and teachers. The grammar-translation strategy was the most popular way until the twenty-first century. The communicative technique is currently the most popular method of learning a second language. Let's take a closer look at the two most prevalent approaches.
The Grammar-Translation Method (traditional method)
This strategy is founded on the translation of grammatical structures and their application: what matters is how you say it, not what you say. The grammar of a foreign language is frequently introduced in the student's original language, followed by a series of activities in which they translate phrases, sentences, or texts from their native language to the foreign language and vice versa. This method was particularly popular in the Soviet Union, where training was conducted without the presence of native speakers.
- Grammar knowledge: most students can quickly translate practically any text into their native language using a dictionary, recognize grammatical structures, and give equivalents in their home language;
- Grammar systematization: this strategy is best for persons who have a strong logical mind and see language as a collection of grammatical formulae;
- Encourages logical reasoning;
- Makes the teacher's job easier.
- The student will never start thinking in the language being studied because of the unnatural method;
- Conversational skills are not formed due to a lack of conversational practice;
- The student will never start thinking in the language being studied because of the lack of conversational practice. That is, he will always consider the phrase in his original tongue before translating it;
- Accurate translation is not always possible, notably owing to cultural differences; this considerably slows down conversation and makes it unnatural. It is not possible to translate all idioms.
Despite its drawbacks, the traditional technique has benefits: it allows you to learn grammar at a high level, and it is ideally suited for persons who have highly developed logical thinking and can view language as a series of grammatical formulae.
The communicative method (communicative approach)
The essential language abilities (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) are developed simultaneously in the process of live dialogue, which is the essence of this method. The method's main goal is to educate students how to communicate in a foreign language. The main exercises, unlike the grammatical translation technique, are aimed upon communication — communication (oral and written). Conversational games, conversations, realistic scenarios, dramatizations, and other activities are very popular.
- Conversational speech development: the goal of training is to educate someone how to communicate and express themselves in a foreign language quickly and competently (after all, we all make mistakes!);
- Listening skills, grammar, and vocabulary are all developed;
- Learning alongside with native speakers boosts motivation and self-esteem.
- Grammar: Because the emphasis on speaking is so strong, the teacher rarely corrects errors; the most important thing is that the student speaks. The rules and structure of the language are given little thought;
- Translation: The communicative method does not allow for adequate development of writing abilities (including translation);
- Difficult for language learners starting from scratch.
The popularity of grammatical translation is decreasing, but it will never go away: it provides a thorough comprehension of grammatical structure as well as a consistent writing ability (higher literacy). The communicative method, on the other hand, is more practical and applied, with the goal of improving oral communication abilities. Furthermore, the communicative approach's variety of objectives and exercises make the learning process fascinating and exciting, motivating students to learn the language.
In sum, we can conclude that there are currently no ideal techniques for teaching English. Although, in terms of modern methodology, communicative and project approaches are currently the most harmonious and relevant.