Translation in Foreign Language Pedagogy: The Rise and Fall of the Grammar Translation Method

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Translation in Foreign Language Pedagogy: The Rise and Fall of the Grammar Translation Method

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Title: Translation in Foreign Language Pedagogy: The Rise and Fall of the Grammar Translation Method
Author: Siefert, Thomas Raymond
Citation: Siefert, Thomas Raymond. 2013. Translation in Foreign Language Pedagogy: The Rise and Fall of the Grammar Translation Method. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is identified as dismissing translation, applying to all
"translation" the restricted expression of translation within the discredited Grammar Translation Method (GTM). Recent, negative classifications of the GTM are considered and, this dissertation observes, the concept of the GTM is shown as prone to being mythologized. A summary definition of the GTM is offered. Of the five Prussian language teachers viewed by history as originating the GTM, Joahnn Valentin Meidinger and, to a lesser degree, Heinrich Gottfried Ollendorff are shown offering methods and an approach to translation that are most similar to the definition of the GTM used today. Johann Heinrich Philipp Seidenstücker, Johann Franz Ahn, and Carl Julius Ploetz are found also to stand in the lineage of the GTM, but with important qualifications. The name "Grammar Translation Method" is asserted by this dissertation to originate in the Reform Movement, specifically, Wilhelm Viëtor’s Der Sprachunterricht muß umkehren! (1882) and a lecture of Viëtor’s from 1899. Viëtor is noted characterizing "traditional" methodologies with the terms "Grammatik" and "Übersetzung," beginning with Meidinger’s Practische Französische Grammatik (1783). Translation is found to remain problematic for the Reform Movement. A separate, concurrent movement, resulting in the Direct Method, is seen banishing all use of translation, and arguably lives on in CLT today. The formulation of a novel definition of the translation of texts is attempted. This definition, along with opinions from Translation Studies, is applied to a statement by Viëtor, where translation is particularly problematized, with the goal of mitigating this problematic. The dissertation recommends that CLT similarly use this definition of translation, so as to mitigate its own skepticism towards translation.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10952296
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