Even though many new methods have been intoduced to this day, the GTM remains a standard metodology for teaching english for some teachers. Prator and Murcia (cited in Brown, 1987: 75) list the major characteristics of the GTM, as follow:

  1. Classes are taught in the mother tongue, with little active use of the target language.
  2. Much vocabulary is taught in the form of list of isolated words.
  3. Long elaborate explanations of the intricacies of grammar are given.
  4. Grammar provides the rules for putting words together, and instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words.
  5. Reading of difficult classical texts is begun early.
  6. Little attention is paid to the content of texts, which are created as exercise in grammatical analysis.
  7. Often the only drills are exercise in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue.
  8. Little or no attention is given to pronunciation.
  9. The focus is on accuracy, and not fluency.

The characteristics mentioned above are not a set of procedures of the GTM. Language teachers may develop their own procedures as long as they are in accordance with the characteristic of the GTM. The following procedure of teaching the target language through the GTM is adapted from Larsen-Freeman (2000: 15-17).

  1. The class reads a text written in the target language.
  2. Student translate the passage from the target language to their mother tongue.
  3. The teacher asks students in their native language if they have any questions, student ask questions and the teacher answer the questions in their native language.
  4. Student write out the answers to reading comprehension questions.
  5. Student translate new words from the target language to their mother tongue.
  6. Student are given a grammar rule and based on the example they apply the rule by using the new words.
  7. Student memorize vocabulary.
  8. The teacher asks students to state the grammar rule
  9. Student memorize the rule.
  10. Errors are corrected by providing the right answers.

Example of lesson planning of the GTM

Selected lesson plan: simple present tense

The teacher introduce the formula of simple present tense and explains (in indonesia) the usage as well as the importance of Simple Present Tense. The teacher points out differences to indonesian language.

Formula: Subject (noun)+Predicate (verb 1)+Object (noun)

The teacher provides the example and their translation as well. Or, depending on the level of comprehension, he/she either calls randomly to have students translate the sentences or give them time to work quietly writing out the translations. He/she has to make sure that the students’ answer are correct.


  1. I love her (saya mencintai dia)
  2. You watch football every day (kamu menonton sepak bola setiap hari)
  3. We study english (kita belajar bahasa Inggris)

The teacher explains (again in indonesian) to student the change of the verb of the predicate. If the subject is she, he or it, the verb is added with s, es, or ies, depending on the verb. The teacher gives example of verbs that can be added with s, es, and ies.


  1. He loves rice (dia senang nasi). The verb is added with s.
  2. He watches football everyday (dia menonton sepak bola setiap hari). The verb is added with es.
  3. She studies english every night (ia belajar bahasa inggris setiap malam). The verb is added with ies.

The teacher gives an exercise that is related to the change of the verb. Students should fill in the blanks with the appropriate form. If necessary, he/she lets students work individually or in pairs to complete the exercise first. He/she walks around and observes the students. He/she answers question and provides correction where needed. Again, discussion is conducted in the mother tongue.


  1. The baby……(cry) every night.
  2. My mother……(cook) rice very well
  3. The students……..(study) mathematics.
  4. My father…….(laugh) very happily.
  5. We…….(live) in indonesia.

Then he/she introduce list of vocabulary and the equivalent translation in order that the student can practice making sentence in simple present tense. This may be done by inroducing a matrix as follows.


Kata ganti (untuk subyek)

I = saya

You = kamu

He = dia (laki-laki)

She = dia (perempuan)

We = kita/kami

They = mereka

It = benda (tunggal)

Kata ganti (untuk obyek)

Me = saya

You = kamu

Him = dia (laki-laki)

Her = dia (perempuan)

Us = kita/kami

Them = mereka

It = benda (tunggal)

Kata kerja transitif

Love = mencintai

Watch = menonton

Study = belajar

Hate = membenci

Drink = minum

Eat = makan

Like = suka

Kata kerja intransitif

Sleep = tidur

Smile = tersenyum

Laugh = tertawa

Cry = menangis

Walk = berjalan

Sit down = duduk

Stand up = berdiri

Terjemahkan kalimat-kalimat ini ke dalam bahasa inggris!

  1. Mereka membenci kita
  2. Kita makan setiap hari
  3. Dia tertawa dan kamu menangis
  4. Saya suka bahasa inggris
  5. Kita tidur setiap malam
  6. Mereka duduk tetapi kita berdiri
  7. Kita makan nasi setiap hari
  8. Kamu tersenyum dan saya tertawa
  9. Mereka suka nasi tetapi saya suka roti
  10. Kita berjalan setiap hari

The teacher may have student translate sentences from english to indonesian. This exercise is then continued bu introducing a simple reading passage for translation. No class time is allocated to allow students to produce their own sentences, and even less time is spent on oral practice. The reading is sometimes used to communicate the culture of the target language.

Even though the GTM is regarded an old method, the method is still widely used in indonesia, particulary, at schools in rural place. Some english teacher still like to teach english through the GTM. It seems that they prefer to use the method to other well developed methods because it is easier to present language materials in classroom and to evaluate the process of language teaching. Classroom management is also not a problem since language teachers can teach english to a class of 40 student sitting in rows.

Language learning is evaluated by giving items of grammatical units to the class and scores are based on right answers of the test. Many teachers believe that their teaching should be test oriented; they expect that their students will do their best in a test, which is sometimes grammar oriented. This is understandable since many standardized test of language still do not tap into communicative abilities so students have little motivation to go beyond grammar analogies, translation and rote learning (brown, 1987: 75).

The reason why the method is still widely practiced is that through the method teachers with a little english policiency can teach tha language. Fluency in english is not required to language teachers since through the GTM the teachers teach english in students’ first language. English is taught as knowledge like other subjects of the school. Since the method emphasizes on grammar rather and translation, students are not expeted to use the language as means of communicaton. Translation is taught to acompany the grammar of english.

It can also be argued that without knowledge of grammatical basis on the target language learners are in possession of nothing more than a selection of communicative phrases which are perfectly adequate for basic communication but which will be found wanting when they are required to perform any kind of sophisticated linguistic task (macmillan, 2002). The combination of the principles of the GTM and the principles of the communicative approach, which will be discussed in chapter 8, will be the perfect combination. On one hand language learners are encouraged to learn to communicate in the target language and, on the other, they also acquire a sound and accurate basis in the grammar of the target language. This combination may be closely related to the concept of the weak version of communicative approach (Howart in Richards and Rodgers, 2000: 155), which stressess the importance of providing learners with opportunities to use their english for communicative purposes and attempt such activities arranged in a structural syllabus. The structural syllabus does not necessarily mean that the language learning is grammar oriented but the syllabus only tells us how the learning materials are arranged.

By emphasizing the accuracy and then continuing on the fluency of using english, the combination of the GTM and the weak version of the communicative approach is likely to be a solution to the problem of learning english as a foreign language in indonesia. Indonesian learners of english still need the mastery of the english grammar in order for them to feel secure in using english for communication. The fluency building can be emphasized after the students have been provided with enough practice of mastering the english grammar for the purpose of accuracy. The typical procedure of the GTM addressed earlier can be continued with the activity that emphasizes the use of english communicatively. The activity for emphasizing the fluency after the student have learned the pattern of simple present tense may be done by working in groups or in pairs. The teacher may ask the students to take turns talking about their daily activities. The following instruction may be used to build the fluency of the target languge.

Get into groups of two. Tell your partner what you do everyday and make up questions to ask your partner. Ask question using the cues below:

  1. To get up at………
  2. To eat…….for breakfast
  3. To have breakfast at……..
  4. To go to school by………..
  5. To arrive home from school at……..
  6. Etc

Even though the GTM is often considered as an “old-fashioned method”, it is claimed that the GTM has had a remarkable success (macmillan, 2002). Millions people have successfully learnt foreign languages to a high degree of proficiency and, in numerous cases, without contact with native speakers of the target language. This success might have been the role of the combination of the GTM and the weak version of the communicative approach. The GTM can give learners a basic foundation upon which language learners can then build their communicative skills through the communicative approach. The GTM may function as a method which encourages the accuracy of the target languge while the communicative approach emphasizes the fluency of the target language, which has been learned through the GTM.

As its name suggest, the major characteristic of the GTM is a focus on learning the rules of grammar and their application in translation passages from one language into the other. the GTM is simply a combination of the grammar method and the translation method. The main principles of the method are as follows. The grammar taught is formal grammar. Vocabulary is the target language is learned through direct translation from the native language. The vocabulary depends on the texts selected. The teaching begins with rules, isolated vocabulary items, paradigms and translation. Easy classics are then translate. Vocabulary is divided into lists of words. The words are to be memorized. Pronounciation is not taught. Grammar rules are also memorized as units and illustrative sentences are often provided.

Fluency in english is not very required to language teachers since through the GTM the teachers teach english in students’ first language. English is taught as knowledge like other subjects of the school. Consequently, language learning is evaluated by giving item of grammatical units to the class and scores are based on right answers of the test. Language learners are often prepared to have a grammar test only. Testing of the learners may be done through translation, either from the target language to their mother tongue or vice versa.

The GTM has produced generations of students who can master the grammar of the target language, yet can not engage in simple conversations. Even though the method is believed to be ineffective to teach the target language communicatively, the method is still in use in some parts of indonesia. It is believed that the method can develop students’ writing skill. For students who respond well to such a learning process, the language class taught through this method may be boring. However, combining the principles of the GTM with the communicative approach may well be the perfect combination for many language learners. They will learn to communicate in the target language and also acquire a sound and accurate basis in the grammar of the target language.


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