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The General Debate Thread

#51
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#52
Not to go off an a huge tangent but while every method has worked for at least one person, there is no pedagogical justification for grammar-translation method.
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#53
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#54
The grammar-translation method is also know as the "deductive" approach (as opposed to the "inductive" approach). The debate over which method is better is an old one.

Just for fun, here's a quote from the introduction to The Beginner's Greek Book (1894) in which the author scoffs at the inductive approach:

"In presenting forms I have employed strictly the deductive method, if so large a phrase may be applied to such elementary matters. The pupil is given a set of facts, commonly a paradigm or the like, with the necessary explanations, and is then required to observe the illustration of the general law or fact in particular instances of its use. In each of the lessons on inflexion a double set of exercises, consisting of Greek sentences to be translated into English and English sentences to be rendered into Greek, follows the facts of Grammar which form the subject of the lesson.

"I have small faith in the method which requires a pupil to construct the Greek paradigms from bits of text by a process called induction. Such a method of acquiring the forms of the language is unnecessarily difficult and confusing, and cannot establish its claim to afford superior mental training."
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#55
When I studied didactics, it seemed nowadays there is a consensus (based on studies) that, on average, the retention of structures and the communicative skills decrease when you give grammar rules upfront. It's better to let the students observe, make hypotheses, and then give the rule later on to see if they were right. And really if you think of learning as a cognitive process, it makes senses since one is more about copying when the other is about interacting with and appropriating the grammar (through trial and error). I know analogies are almost always bad, but if you add the affective factor, that would be like copying the answers of a crosswords vs doing the crosswords yourself. One is rewarding and leaves a trace, the other isn't. I'm not quoting anything since I mostly know French authors (Cuq, Beacco, Cicurel, Porquier, etc), but I'm sure any Language Didactics 101 manual in English explains this.
Edited: 2015-01-15, 6:44 pm
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#56
john555 Wrote:Just for fun, here's a quote from the introduction to The Beginner's Greek Book (1894)...

"I have small faith in the method which requires a pupil to construct the Greek paradigms from bits of text by a process called induction."
Citing from a book written in the 16th century would make your argument even stronger - don't you think so?
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#57
Inny Jan Wrote:
john555 Wrote:Just for fun, here's a quote from the introduction to The Beginner's Greek Book (1894)...

"I have small faith in the method which requires a pupil to construct the Greek paradigms from bits of text by a process called induction."
Citing from a book written in the 16th century would make your argument even stronger - don't you think so?
My point is that the debate over which method is better is very old. A quote from the 16th century on this topic would be very interesting actually.
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#58
> EratiK
I have never seen such data and it sounds pretty fishy since I'm studying about these things and noone has ever mentioned it. There are just pros and cons to both approaches.
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#59
EratiK Wrote:When I studied didactics, it seemed nowadays there is a consensus (based on studies) that, on average, the retention of structures and the communicative skills decrease when you give grammar rules upfront. It's better to let the students observe, make hypotheses, and then give the rule later on to see if they were right. And really if you think of learning as a cognitive process, it makes senses since one is more about copying when the other is about interacting with and appropriating the grammar (through trial and error). I know analogies are almost always bad, but if you add the affective factor, that would be like copying the answers of a crosswords vs doing the crosswords yourself. One is rewarding and leaves a trace, the other isn't. I'm not quoting anything since I mostly know French authors (Cuq, Beacco, Cicurel, Porquier, etc), but I'm sure any Language Didactics 101 manual in English explains this.
Personally I find it works the other way around--if I'm not told the grammar rules ahead of time, nothing sticks from the reading passage.

When I was working through Japanese For Busy People, I used to learn the grammar and vocabulary first, and THEN read the passage at the beginning.

I simply don't have to time to flounder about and guess (and I don't want to).

Everyone is different. Some (like me) prefer the deductive approach, others the inductive approach.

Here's another interesting quote, this time from the book "Present Day Italian" (Heath, 1947) in which the author implies that the more linguistically gifted students in the class would benefit from the deductive approach and save time learning:

"The book can thus be used profitably no matter what method is adopted. The teacher...may have a class of brilliant students, and he may want to take a short cut and concentrate on grammar; in that case the sentences at the end of each lesson are of paramount importance." [Note: these sentences he refers to are English into Italian translation exercises].



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Edited: 2015-01-16, 1:04 am
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#60
I'm not arguing the grammar translation doesn't work very well for some people, it does, but if the grammar translation method was generally forsaken it's not just because of a fad, it's because people in charge of curricula thought, still on average, the results weren't good enough, surely you have studied that Arupan. Can you speek Ancient Greek John? I can't speak Latin in spite of having studied it for 5 years of grammar translation, I don't think it's a coincidence.
Edited: 2015-01-16, 4:02 am
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#61
Arupan Wrote:I don't know where you get this information but the grammar translation method is still used the most even today, especially when it comes to adults. Rather, the natural approach, which is very popular in this forum, is the one which isn't as used.
Note I didn't say anything about the natural approach. In Europe the current approach is an action-based approach (see the CEFR p18 and onwards) for the teaching of foreign/second languages in universities. And I was under the impression from my lectures the grammar translation method hasn't been taught in the US for a long time. Sure this method is the most widespread in areas like China/Africa, which could be either because they don't know, they can't, or they won't implement anything else, which is understandable if you consider the whole history of language learning the developments that took place since the 50s are fairly recent. But at any rate the diffusion of the grammar translation method doesn't say anything about the soundness of the method, just that it has been around the longest.
Edited: 2015-01-16, 8:00 am
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#62
EratiK Wrote:Note I didn't say anything about the natural approach. In Europe the current approach is an action-based approach (see the CEFR p18 and onwards) for the teaching of foreign/second languages in universities. And I was under the impression from my lectures the grammar translation method hasn't been taught in the US for a long time. Sure this method is the most widespread in areas like China/Africa, which could be either because they don't know, they can't, or they won't implement anything else, which is understandable if you consider the whole history of language learning the developments that took place since the 50s are fairly recent. But at any rate the diffusion of the grammar translation method doesn't say anything about the soundness of the method, just that it has been around the longest.
It hasn't been used in the united states in a long time, either (aside from Latin, and even with that Orberg's Lingua Latina is gaining traction). I'm partial to Direct Instruction myself.
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#63
RandomQuotes Wrote:
EratiK Wrote:Note I didn't say anything about the natural approach. In Europe the current approach is an action-based approach (see the CEFR p18 and onwards) for the teaching of foreign/second languages in universities. And I was under the impression from my lectures the grammar translation method hasn't been taught in the US for a long time. Sure this method is the most widespread in areas like China/Africa, which could be either because they don't know, they can't, or they won't implement anything else, which is understandable if you consider the whole history of language learning the developments that took place since the 50s are fairly recent. But at any rate the diffusion of the grammar translation method doesn't say anything about the soundness of the method, just that it has been around the longest.
It hasn't been used in the united states in a long time, either (aside from Latin, and even with that Orberg's Lingua Latina is gaining traction). I'm partial to Direct Instruction myself.
I clicked on the link you provided. Here is what the document says near the beginning:

"Language use, embracing language learning, comprises the actions performed by
persons who as individuals and as social agents develop a range of competences,
both general and in particular communicative language competences. They draw
on the competences at their disposal in various contexts under various conditions
and under various constraints to engage in language activities involving language
processes to produce and/or receive texts in relation to themes in specific domains,
activating those strategies which seem most appropriate for carrying out the tasks
to be accomplished. The monitoring of these actions by the participants leads to the
reinforcement or modification of their competences."

I think I'll stick with learning how to conjugate verbs.....
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#64
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#65
Arupan Wrote:Even if I say that both methods are effective and work, people here still try to deny it, so I'll just call it quits ^^
You said that the grammar translation method is the most popular method for language study today. But it isn't. It obviously isn't. It's not used almost at all.

So is it possible that the method you used and found effective ISN'T the grammar translation method?
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#66
Stansfield123 Wrote:
john555 Wrote:Hi Arupan, it's nice to see that someone else has used the "grammar-translation" method (which is what I used to learn Japanese), given how there seems to be a bias against the "grammar-translation" method. I personally prefer this method. It's hard yes but it pays off in the end.
The "bias" isn't against the "grammar-translation" method, it's against any method that has no rationale for it, and every reason to be avoided. In fact Arupan, in the post you're responding to, has identified the reason why this method is a bad idea: "most people find it way too hard to think in a language other than their target one and still produce an accurate sentence". And that's an understatement. Most people find it impossible to do that. You know why? Because it is. Because that's not how natural languages work.

That's a result that's been observed time and time again, with people who've put themselves through learning a language this way failing to be able to actually use what they learned time and time again.
Right. Then how do you explain how nineteenth-century American college applicants were able to pass Latin and Greek entrance examinations which required translation from English into Latin and Greek? They learned Latin and Greek through grammar-translation and were able to translate into e.g., Latin, complex passages like the following sample from Harvard's 1896 entrance exam:

Harvard, June, 1896.
While this was going on, Caesar waited ontside the
walls : but when Cicero had been forced by the violence
of Clodius to go into exile, Caesar set out without delay
for his province, and travelled with such speed that he
reached Geneva, which is about eight hundred miles from
Eome, in eight days. For he had received word that the
Helvetians were preparing to migrate from their country
in search of larger territory to dwell in, and he was
afraid they would do much harm to the province if he
should allow them to enter it. He therefore ordered the
bridge which was at Geneva to be torn down, and made
a requisition on the province for troops. The Helvetians,
who had now assembled on the other side of the Rhone,
on hearing of Caesar's arrival sent envoys to ask him to
allow them to proceed through the province, because there
was no other way by which they could go. Caesar told
the envoys he needed time to consider the matter ;
if they would come back on the thirteenth of April, he would
give them his answer.

Solution:

HARVARD, JUNE, 1896.
Dum haec geruntur, Caesar extra moenia morabatur:
cum autem Cicero vi Clodi in exsilium ire coactus esset,
Caesar protinus in provinciam profectus est, et iter cum
tanta celeritate fecit ut Genavam, quae a Roma milia
passuum octingenta. fere abest, diebus octo perveniret.
Nam ei nuntiatum erat Helvetios de suis finibus exire
parare, quaerentes latiores agros quos incolerent, et verebatur
ne magnam iniuriam provinciae facerent, si eam
ingredi passus esset. Itaque pontem qui erat ad Genayam
iubet rescindi, provinciae copias im perat. Hel vetii,
qui iam trans Rhodanum convenerant, cum de Caesaris
adventu audivissent, legatos miserunt qui eum rogarent
ut iter per provinciam facere liceret, propterea quod
aliud iter esset nullum quo ire possent. Caesar legatis
dixit sibi tempore opus esse ad deliberandumj si ad Id.
Apr. reverterentur, se responsum eis daturum.
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#67
Stansfield123 Wrote:It's because nineteenth century American colleges didn't have any Romans or ancient Greeks on their staff, to evaluate those translations and laugh at how silly they sound to a native speaker.
LOL!! People living in the 19th century weren't stupid, you know. When they formulated Latin prose composition exercises (translate English sentences into Latin), they carefully modeled the sentences on actual Latin pieces by writers like Caesar and Cicero so that they didn't stray too far from the available evidence of how the Romans actually wrote.
Edited: 2015-01-18, 2:42 pm
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#68
Stansfield123 Wrote:You said that the grammar translation method is the most popular method for language study today. But it isn't. It obviously isn't. It's not used almost at all.
I'm not so sure that it isn't used at all. Grammar-translation is easy for a teacher to use, particularly one who isn't the greatest speaker of the language. I think that especially at the high school level and below it's used quite a bit, and I have a feeling that it's not too uncommon even at upper levels. And I think a good number of programs do some grammar-translation even if it's not the basis for their whole program.

When I did French in high school and middle school, it was almost 100% grammar-translation.
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