Critical Review for a Research Article Based on Grammar Translation
INTRODUCTION For centuries, Strategies on teaching and learning second language has been formed and apply in the classroom. Based on that, many researches has been conducted to test these methods in teaching and learning process to examine whether it is efficient or just a waste of time. By reading through these researches, teacher has been given responsibility to choose which methods that can be adaptable to their own respective classroom and how it would help them with the lessons.
Through this project, we have chosen a research articles that was conducted in China to find out how a specific teaching method will help in the teaching and learning process by examining the research articles written by Lingjie Jin, Michael Singh, and Liqun Li. Furthermore, we will identify the teaching methods that were used by them and it relevance to the teaching and learning process in China.
The study sought to investigate whether the communicative approach could help students acquire their vocabulary while reading through communicative activities, and develop their ability of using language and arouse their interest in learning English. 1. 0 METHODS USED IN THE STUDY. 2. 1 The Grammar Translation Method This method is more focusing on memorization of verb paradigms, grammar rules and vocabulary. Application of this knowledge was directed on translation of literary texts which is focusing on developing students’ appreciation of the target language’s literature as well as teaching the language.
Written and oral translation plays a prominent part in classroom work. This encourages the learners to think and translate into their first language. Classes were conducted in the native language which is the first language. A chapter in a distinctive textbook of this method would begin with a massive bilingual vocabulary list. Grammar points would come directly from the texts and be presented contextually in the textbook, to be explained elaborately by the teacher. In this method, while teaching the textbook the teacher translates every word and phrase from English into the learners’ first language.
A number of methods and techniques have evolved for the teaching of English and also other foreign languages in the recent past, yet this method is still in use especially in Asian country such as China. It maintains the first language of the learner as the reference particularly in the process of learning the second/foreign languages. The main principles on which the grammar translation method is based are the following: 1. Translation interprets the words and phrases of the foreign languages in the best possible manner. 2.
The phraseology and the idioms of the target language can best be assimilated in the process of interpretation. 3. The structures of the foreign languages are best learned when compared and contrast with those of first language. 2. 2 The Communicative Language Teaching Method Communicative has been developed by British Applied linguists as a reaction away from grammar-based approaches. CLT also places great emphasis on helping students use the target language in a variety of contexts and places. It is a great emphasis on learning four language skills – listening, speaking, reading, writing.
Its primary focus is on helping learners create meaning rather than helping them develop perfectly grammatical structures or acquire native-like pronunciation. This means that successfully learning the English language is assessed in terms of how well learners have developed their communicative competence, which can loosely be defined as their ability to apply knowledge of both formal and sociolinguistic aspects of a language with adequate proficiency to communicate. CLT is usually characterized as a broad approach to teaching, rather than as a teaching method with a clearly defined set of classroom practices.
As such, it is most often defined as a list of general principles or features; 1) An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language. 2) The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation. 3) The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on language but also on the learning management process. 4) An enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning. 5) An attempt to link classroom language learning with language activities outside the classroom. 2. BACKGROUND OF CLT AND GRAMMAR-TRANSLATION METHODS IN CHINA The main purpose of CLT is to develop learners’ communicative competence. Communication is important in order to follow with the development of economy. When communicative language teaching (CLT) was introduced in China at first, it met with considerable resistance (Li, 2003; Zhu, 2003; Hu, 2002). Its pioneers changed the traditional grammar-translation method into a student-centred communicative approach. It is become unusual in learning for the students because they need to communicate in class rather than hearing the teacher explanation.
English language teaching in China was established by divergent stories and not a single narrative. According to Rao (2002), in learning the English language, the Chinese learners are more focusing on reading and writing; grammar and translation; memorization of vocabulary. However, the traditional grammar-translation method failed to make them improve in their communicative skill. In order to catch up with the development of economy and promote exchange, students’ communicative competence even their overall ability in language need to be improved
Most of the ELT teachers who had adopted CLT method grew less confident of it. This is because of their qualification and the National Testing System. At the end of 1990s’, a person named Zhu has summarized with an increasing series of CLT text books that were published. CLT started to be accepted and teachers were encouraged to teach communicatively and interactively in classes. Students were unable to communicate effectively in foreign language and they were dissatisfied with their communicative competence skills.
Although CLT was introduced into the Chinese EFL classes in the early 1980s, the traditional grammar method is still employed in most classes. Before 2000, college English text books were used in most universities for more than 10 years designed for traditional methods such as grammar translation method. The students were being used to passive and obedient to teachers, waiting patiently and quietly what teachers give them. An experiment project was conducted about college English teaching with communicative approach and a new series of textbooks.
The purpose was to find out the results of applying and assess of effectiveness of the communicative approach in English reading classes. 3. 0 PROCEDURES OF THE STUDY An experiment project was conducted about college English teaching in Automobile College of Jilin University. The study began on September 2002. 8 non-English major classes were chosen at random. 4 classes will use CLT method in the teaching and learning process (Group C) and another 4 classes will used grammar-translation method (Group T). It lasted for 2 semesters with 116 participants on Group C and 118 on Group T.
Jin, Singh, and Li prepared a Pre-treatment questionnaire asked about the students’ perception of the discourse structures and reading strategies at the beginning of the semester. 116 students received the questionnaire and returned them. Then, they were told about learner-centred approach, learner autonomy, the roles of themselves and teachers in class. To conduct the study on communicative approach, three steps were taken, which is a warm-up activities, reading activities, and follow up activities. 3. 1 Warm up activities
Students were required to do a group discussion, pair work and individual presentation to familiarise the topic that they were going to read. The need of such thing is to make sure that everyone will take part in the activities. Teachers will sometimes have to join in as a partner. The students’ interest in English learning was encouraged in such a dynamic and active atmosphere. 3. 2 Reading activities In order to make sure that students understood the global structure and was aware of the main idea in the material they were reading, teacher and students analysed the characteristics of different discourse structures together in class.
Predictive and jigsaw reading activity were organised to improve students’ clarity of the discussion. 3. 2. 1 Predictive Reading Activity The activities was suitable for narrative passages which were divided into parts for one group, then another to read one in limited time, then they also were asked to work in small group and had to offer their own prediction and share with the whole of the class. After that they went on to read and test their different expectations. Whoever share the same ideas with the author would be very excited, others with different prediction were amused, too. . 2. 2 Jigsaw Reading Activity Teacher divided the selected material into sections and divided students into group; with limited time given, they were asked to read only one paragraph for each group to find a main idea and prediction for the next and before the paragraph. When they come into problems, they will try to solve it discussing issues with their peers. There are two procedures for this activity: A- First, one student from each group made a report on their findings and other students will have to listen attentively to take note.
After all the reports, students have collected all the main content from all groups then in their group, decide the order of the paragraph. At the end of the activities, the whole class will agreed on the logical sequences. B- Secondly, students were divided into different groups, with each member coming from a different group. Each student in the new group brought their materials and all of them organised the passage according to the most logical order. 3. 3 Follow up Activities By the end of the activity, teacher asked questions about the passage to acquire the feedback from the students.
All the activities were arranged for all students in the class to participate actively in the interactions and eventually improved their overall English language ability. 4. 0 OUTCOMES The study done by Lingjie Jin, Michael Singh, and Liquin Li has achieved the following result which is the comparison on test result, time taken by the teacher in class, and feedback between Group C and Group T which practiced the Communicative Language Teaching and Grammar-Translation methods in class for two semesters respectively. 4. 1 Test Result
Students were required to take a test paper to check their skills on reading (R40), listening (L15) and vocabulary and structures (L15). The numbers being allocated to it are the fullest marks. Test papers were exactly the same in listening and reading. The part of vocabulary and structures were all from their respective textbooks. TEST/GROUP| GROUP C| GROUP T| R40| 30. 18| 29. 56| L15| 10. 58| 8. 54| V15| 9. 09| 8. 22| Table 1 : Test result for Group C and Group T Judging from the result of the test, students in Group C did better than those in T-group in all aspects.
They were especially superior in listening, and slightly better in vocabulary. This does seems that a communicative approach can improve students’ performance in examination and does not undermine their capacity to succeed in tests. 4. 2 Tape Result The process of teaching and learning of the groups were recorded in audio and checked to see the differences between the two classroom management with grammar-translation and communicative approaches. In the GT classes, the teachers’ lectures took about 91% of the time in class.
On the other hand, 64% of the time was spent in student-centred activities which ultimately give chances for all students in the classroom to speak English. 4. 3 Feedback Comments on the training program were obtained for a group of college students just graduated from high-school. 29 people out of 30 showed a favourable attitude and acknowledged their progress in all of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills during the three-month training. From the 116 students, 85% of them said they liked the CLT methods better.
Students in Grammar-Translation group just sat there nodding mechanically with no chance to speak language. They commented that the teachers were training them to be like robot because they just accepted what the teachers gave them. At the end of the first semester, three university supervisors observed the class with CLT methods and confirmed the active, motivating atmosphere and the positive, effective functions of it. 5. 0 CHINESE STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS ON THE TEACHING METHODS. Another research study has been conducted by Z.
Rao (2002) to investigate Chinese students’ perceptions of communicative and non-communicative activities and their difficulties in EFL classes that used CLT method. The instruments include a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. 30 Chinese English-major college students were chosen at random from those who exposed to CLT for completing a survey. 15 of them were sophomores, 15 were juniors, with 21 females and 9 males, ranging in age from 18 to 23. The questionnaire consisted of three parts. Part A was about the students’ background, English proficiency and their opinions of communicative and non-communicative activities.
Part B composed of 19 items asking about communicative and non-communicative activities. Part C invited students to explain their difficulties in communicative activities in class. 5. 1 Research results. The data was examined after it was collected and analysed inductively. The survey results showed that the students preferred non-communicative activities, compared with communicative ones although they liked a variety of class activities. Almost all students preferred teachers’ grammatical explanations in English mother-tongue-avoidance strategy in class.
Sometimes the lack of authentic English context and confidence in themselves prevent them from participating in communicative activities. Some dynamic, creative activities were welcomed by good English learners. All students thought it helpful for teachers to direct class discussions, and they were they were interested in authentic English materials, e. g. newspaper or magazine articles. All students were interested in CLT methods in class, twenty-two of whom liked non-communicative activities better, and eight preferred communicative activities.
All of them thought the combination of communicative and non-communicative activities was better. Because of most examinations were grammar-based, and many students’ motivations for learning of English was career-orientated. They didn’t attach importance to communicative activities although they were interested in them. And 25 of 30 students thought they were used to the traditional grammar-translation method which was teacher-centred, textbook-driven and emphasized rote memory. They consider their teachers were authority and reluctant to challenge them. CONCLUSION
After a deep look into the research articles conducted by three capable and professional professor of English Education, we realise that most classes in China uses Grammar-translation method on their teaching and learning process instead of the more modern approach on language teaching such as CLT. It is by no means an expired approach because students in China still preferred to use the method and claim it sufficient in learning English language. The paper done by Li, Jin, and Singh has explored the CLT method to college English and compared them with traditional method of grammar-translation.
Li (2003) summarises that judging from the feedback from the students and the results of examinations, communicative approach was advantageous and favourable, it aroused their interest in English language and developing their learner autonomy. Although the study shown that CLT method is much more efficient with a higher result on English language skills (listening, speaking, writing, and reading), Rao (2002) has conducted one research on students’ own perceptions instead of looking at the end result of students’ proficiency in English language which resulted in favour of the more traditional method of grammar-translation.
According to Rao (2002), teacher may help their students understand the nature of the language, the features of CLT, the function of the class, the role of student and the teacher. They could create environment for students to practise the language which give them some insights into real-life situation. Adding to that, teachers could be facilitators that help students to access authentic English language materials. It will offer students knowledge into other nations, peoples, ultures, and everything significant. Thus it has come to our understanding that even though both methods might be applicable to English language classes depending on the variable of the students’ conception and environment, teachers could be the initiators that encourage students to accept the other modern methods and be the one who clear away misconceptions that might be used to hinder the teaching and learning process in classroom.
REFERENCES 1- Lingjie Jin, Michael Singh, Liqun Li; Communicative Language Teaching in China: Misconceptions, Applications and Perceptions. (2005) Australian Association for Research in Education. 2- Rao, Z. (2002), Chinese Students’ Perceptions of Communicative and Non-Communicative Activities in EFL Classroom. System 30, pp. 85-105. 3- Xiao Qing Liao; How Communicative Language Teaching Became Acceptable in Secondary Schools in China.
The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 10, October 2000; http://iteslj. org/. 4- Rao Zhenhui; Foreign Languages College, Jiangxi Normal College, China. Modern vs. Traditional. Taken 10 October 2012 from http://eca. state. gov/forum/vols/vol37/no3/p27. htm. 5- Rhalmi Mohammed I’m Rhalmi Mohammed; articles on Grammar Translation Method (April 2009) and Communicative Language Teaching (Sep 2009) taken on October 2012 from http://myenglishpages. com.