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Treatment of grammar within

different teaching methods The place of


grammar teaching
Grammatical
today
terminology
(metalanguage)

Context of total Covert vs. overt


grammatical system grammar teaching
(i.e. meaning-focused
vs. form-focused
The teachers instruction)
attitude to grammar

Content areas in a Teaching grammar from


communicative texts: contextualizing
syllabus: grammar & grammatical features
function; spoken and
written grammar;
grammar syllabuses Learner factors & The case for/against
importance of grammar
focus on form
TREATMENT OF GRAMMAR WITHIN DIFFERENT
TEACHING METHODS
THE PLACE OF GRAMMAR TEACHING

There is something distinctly familiar about


grammar.

Traditionally, grammar has been the sine qua non


of LT simply taken for granted.

If grammar, what kind: traditional, structural,


transformational, functional-notional or any other
school of thought?
TREATMENT OF GRAMMAR WITHIN DIFFERENT
TEACHING METHODS

The 'traditional' approach (the grammar-translation metod)


to grammar teaching: overt and confident

Direct method: It prioritised oral skills, and, while following a


syllabus of grammar structures, rejected explicit grammar
teaching. The learners, it was supposed, picked up the
grammar in much the same way as children pick up the
grammar of their mother tongue, simply by being immersed
in language.

The audiolingual method: no explicit rules; grammatical


points taught through examples & pattern-practice drills

Cognitive theorists: a new role for grammatical explanation


(accept the value of rules)
TREATMENT OF GRAMMAR WITHIN DIFFERENT TEACHING METHODS:
The grammar translation method

grammar as RULES
conscious rule-learning
language teaching =
grammar teaching
grammar as an end in
itself
traditionally, grammar has
been the sine qua non of
LT simply taken for
granted
grammar teaching: overt
and confident

most approaches to language teaching (or syllabuses) up until the


1970s were grammar-based
TREATMENT OF GRAMMAR WITHIN DIFFERENT TEACHING METHODS:
The audiolingual approaches

TEACHING
grammar as PRACTISING
STRUCTURES
no explicit rules
grammatical points taught
through examples & pattern-
practice drills
teaching to a grammar syllabus

EXPLICIT
GRAMMAR

during the 1970s: denial of the value of any overt


grammar teaching ( Krashen's insistence on the primacy of
acquisition has tended to downplay the value of deliberate study and
practice).
TREATMENT OF GRAMMAR WITHIN DIFFERENT TEACHING METHODS:
COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING

COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING (CLT) was motivated


by developments of sociolinguistics, and the belief that
commmunicative competence consists of more than simply
the knowledge of the rules of grammar.

SHALLOW-END CLT: grammar still the main


component of the syllabus of CLT courses, even if it
was dressed up in functional labels.

DEEP-END CLT: rejected both grammar-based


syllabuses and grammar instruction.
TREATMENT OF GRAMMAR WITHIN DIFFERENT TEACHING METHODS:
The Communicative Approach

TEACHING / LEARNING shallow-end CLT (grammar still


the main component of the
syllabus)
deep-end CLT (rejects both
grammar-based syllabuses and
grammar instruction)
focus on form & consciousness-
raising
noticing
grammar as a resource
grammar explanations are much
more conspicuous now than they
were in the heyday of either the
Direct Method or Audiolingualism
GRAMMAR
HEADWAY & grammar
One of its main attractions ... is that the old Headway
Intermediate reasserted the central place of grammar in the
language curriculum. We firmly believe that it is the main
enabling tool that allows learners to generate their own
language. We suspect that learners think this too. [...] In the
era of Krashen, and so-called 'natural approaches' to language
learning, some teachers became reluctant to do anything that
might resemble actual teaching. We dared to have an up-
front grammatical approach, with grammar explanation, and
horror of horrors, translation! [...], but we think that all kinds
of grammar practice can be interesting ... In the New
Headway Intermediate, we have included even more practice.
Soars, J. and L. Soars. 1996. An Introduction to New Headway Intermediate. Headway
Teacher's Magazine, Issue 5 pp. 2-3
TREATMENT OF GRAMMAR WITHIN DIFFERENT TEACHING METHODS

grammar as RULES
grammar language teaching = grammar teaching
translation grammar as an end in itself

grammar as PRACTISING STRUCTURES


during the 1970s: denial of the value of any
audiolingual overt grammar teaching
approaches no explicit rules
teaching to a grammar syllabus

shallow-end CLT
communicative deep-end CLT
language focus on form & consciousness-
teaching raising
noticing
grammar as a resource
To summarise the story so far

Most approaches to language teaching (or


syllabuses) up until the 1970s were grammar-
based.

On the question of the explicitness of rule


teaching there is a clear divide between those
methods that seek to mirror the process of first
language acquistion and those that see second
language acquisition as a more intellectual
process. The former methods reject grammar
instruction, while the latter accept a role of
conscious rule-learning.
Grammar teaching can mean different things

Grammar teaching can mean different things to different


people:

Teaching to a grammar syllabus but otherwise not making any


reference to grammar in the classroom at all (e.g.
audiolingualism)
Teaching to a communicative syllabus but dealing with
grammar questions that arise in the course of doing
communicative activities ( covert grammar teaching)
Teaching to a grammar syllabus and explicitly presenting the
rules of grammar, using grammar terminology ( overt
grammar teaching)
To summarise the story so far

Finally, even in methods where rules are made explicit, there


may be a different emphasis with regard to the way the
learner arrives at these rules.

A deductive approach An inductive approach


(giving) (guiding)

Rules presented Ls first study examples and


Ls apply them through work the rules out for
study and practice themselves
Grammar now

A glance at so-called communicative coursebooks confirms that


grammar explanations are much more conspicuous now than
they were, say, in the heyday of either the Direct Method or
Audiolingualism.

The sense that we are experiencing a grammar revival has been


underlined by the emergence of two influential theoretical
concepts:

focus on form
consciousness-raising
Grammar now:
Focus on form & consciousness-raising

Research suggests that without some attention to form, learners run the risk
of fossilisation. A focus on form does not necessarily mean a return to
drill-and-repeat type methods of teaching.

Some theorists suggest that acquisition involves conscious processes, of


which the most fundamental is attention. It follows that helping learners
attend to language items may help them acquire them ( noticing).
Pointing out features of the grammatical system is thus a form of
consciousness-raising.

It might seem that we have come full circle, and that grammar
consciousness-raising is simply a smart term for what was once called
grammar presentation. But presentation is usually paired with practice,
implying immediate and accurate output. Consciousness-raising does
not necessarily entail production: it may simply exist at the level of
understanding and remembering.
Consciousness-raising & noticing
Have you
noticed this
form?

making new language items accessible and noticeable


consciousness-raising, noticing

Noticing is necessary for learning, and intake is that part of the


input which has been noticed.
Grammar now:
Focus on form & consciousness-raising

We need, therefore, to add to the pro-grammar


position the arguments for a focus on form
and for consciousness-raising. Together they
comprise the paying-attention-to-form
argument.

That is to say, learning seems to be enhanced when the learner


is directed to getting the forms right, and when the learners
attention is directed to features of the grammatical system.
Grammar now:
Focus on form & consciousness-raising

This doesnt mean that grammar should be the


goal of teaching, nor that a focus on form
alone is sufficient. Teachers should employ
grammar as a resource rather than as an end
in itself.

A language is acquired through practice; it is merely


perfected through grammar. (Leibniz)
The Current Trends in Materials Development

Negative trends:
There is a return to the
central place of grammar
in the language
curriculum, which
contradicts the needs and
wants of learners and
teachers and which goes
against many of the findings
of SLA research.
THE PLACE OF GRAMMAR TEACHING

Grammar teaching is very liable to be influenced by


different views on language learning.

main parameter:

the ability to learn a language through


deliberate study and formal practice as
opposed to a subconscious absorption of the
language through use
TWO WAYS OF LEARNING GRAMMAR

a subconscious absorption of deliberate study and formal


the language through use practice

mother tongue L1
acquisition, or by living in In a classroom FL
a TL community (i.e. ESL)
THE PLACE OF GRAMMAR TEACHING

zero grammar In a classroom FL


subconscious acquisition

implicit grammar explicit grammar


instruction instruction

meaning-focused form-focused
instruction instruction

a deductive an inductive
approach approach
Meaning-focused vs form-focused instruction

meaning-focused form-focused
instruction instruction

Get it right in the end Get it right from the beginning


Meaning-focused vs form-focused instruction

Get it right in Get it right from


the end the beginning

Proponents of this position recognize grammar translation


an important role for form-focused
instruction, but they do not assume
(i.e. grammar as RULES),
that everything has to be taught. Many and audiolingual
language features will be acquired approaches (i.e.
naturally. They view meaning-focused grammar as PRACTISING
instruction as crucial for language STRUCTURES)
learning, but they believe that learners
will do better if they also have access
to some form-focused instruction.
meaning-focused & form-focused
comprehension-based instruction instruction

Just listen and read


providing
comprehensible input
(comprehension-based
instruction)
meaning-focused
instruction (e.g. content-
based, task-based)
Total physical response
French immersion Here, it is assumed that language is best
programmes learned in incremental steps, one 'bit of
grammar' at a time. Research suggests that
Input flood
language acquisition is more complex, less
linear, and less amenable to teacher
intervention.
meaning-focused instruction form-focused instruction

enhanced input (e.g.


through typographical
enhancement
enhanced input (e.g. through typographical enhancement)
meaning-focused enhanced input form-focused
instruction instruction

making new language items accessible and noticeable


consciousness-raising, noticing
Noticing is necessary for learning, and intake is that part of the
input which has been noticed.
THE PLACE OF GRAMMAR TEACHING

During the 1970s:


denial of the value of any overt grammar teaching ( Krashen's insistence on
the primacy of acquisition has tended to downplay the value of deliberate
study and practice).

There is no simple choice between deliberate practice and


study and intuitive acquisition

both processes come into play and should be encouraged in a


teaching programme
Form-focused instruction and the research evidence

A weaker version of CLT, including varying degrees of implicit-explicit


focus on form, is still now the most enduring form of instruction supported by
the research evidence. Where a form-focused component was added to
meaning-based instruction, in general it was found to be the most beneficial
overall teaching approach.
There is convincing evidence that learners can learn some aspects of
the target rule system implicitly. Some aspects need a spotlight shone on them
in order to help the learner. We still have some way to go in defining which is
the most appropriate model of form-focused instruction.
Teach what is teachable: Experienced teachers are able to tell which
grammar can be taught explicitly, which grammar must be taught explicitly and
which grammar is best just forgotten about with certain groups of learners.
Form-focused instruction and the research evidence

Early accounts stressed that input was the key factor. The important thing for
teachers was to provide high quality and tuned language input. Learners should
be exposed to language which was varied in form and which was at the edge of
their comprehension - comprehensible. Given this, the learners' language
would automatically develop without language-focused instruction. This
account, and in particular the implication that instruction is irrelevant, has been
severely criticised. Research has demonstrated that instruction does have an
effect but that this effect is indirect and non-immediate. So it is important to
provide instruction for learners, but one should not expect to see the
immediate and specific impact of any particular 'bit' of instruction on any
particular 'bit' of language. Instructed learners make faster progress than
uninstructed learners and reach higher levels of ultimate attainment. But they
do this in their own way, following their own developmental sequence, not a
sequence imposed by a teacher.
Form-focused instruction and the research evidence

In a study, Green and Hecht (1992) investigated 300 German learners of English with
between 3 and 12 years of exposure to English. They were asked to correct 12 errors
in context and offer explanations of the rule. A comparison group of native speakers of
English was used to ensure validity. They found that:

1. Most learners had not learnt the rules they had been taught
(only 46% produced an acceptable rule).
2. Higher achieving students did better at providing rules.
(However, given the different schools, this may have been due
to different teaching approaches.)
3. Learners were able to correct the errors without knowing the
rules. If they had produced a correct rule, however, they almost
always were able to correct the mistake.
4. Some rules had obviously been easier to learn explicitly than
others.
overt / explicit grammar teaching; inductive vs deductive approach

a deductive approach (giving) an inductive approach (guiding)


rules examples practice examples practice rules
RULES, EXPLANATIONS METALANGUAGE

GRAMMATICAL TERMINOLOGY

Vocabulary needed should be introduced gradually and with


care always bearing in mind the learners' maturity and
background. The aim should be 'to simplify the wording of rules
maximally', and 'clarity should be an overriding principle'.
LEARNER FACTORS & IMPORTANCE OF FOCUS ON FORM
FORM - MEANING

ACCURACY FLUENCY
TEACHING GRAMMAR FROM TEXTS
CONTEXTUALIZING
GRAMMATICAL FEATURES
CONTEXTUALIZING GRAMMATICAL FEATURES

A context has the advantage


of showing the grammatical
feature in use, and this may
motivate the students to learn
it. But it has the disadvantage
that the feature is hidden in
the situation and in the flow
of discourse. What the
language teaching literature
fails to emphasize is the skill
needed to pick out a relevant
grammatical feature from a
context or situation.
making new language items
accessible and noticeable
Context of total grammatical system
Another aspect which is often
overlooked is the placing of the
grammatical feature to be studied in the
context of the total grammatical system.
In syllabus design attention has been
paid to the gradual and cyclical
development of grammatical
competence. But the syllabus design is
generally addressed to the teacher. The
teacher sees the item being taught in
the context of the whole grammatical
syllabus. It is equally important for
learners to see a particular feature not
merely as an isolated item but as part of
an evolving system of interrelationships.
THE TEACHERS ATTITUDE TO GRAMMAR
CONTENT AREAS IN A COMMUNICATIVE SYLLABUS

CULTURE & CIVILIZATION

FUNCTIONS
TOPICS
NOTIONS
SKILLS

LEXIS

STRUCTURES /
GRAMMAR
COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE COMPETENCES

COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE
COMPETENCES

LINGUISTIC SOCIOLINGUISTIC PRAGMATIC


COMPETENCE(S) COMPETENCE(S) COMPETENCE(S)

lexical linguistic markers &


grammatical social relations
discourse competence
phonological politness conventions
functional competence
orthographic (spelling) register differences
orthoepic (reading aloud) dialect & accent
Grammar and function: Two sides of the same coin

Would you like ?


If only I hadnt grammar -
structures

an invitation or offer functions or


a regret speech acts
Grammar and function: Two sides of the same coin

an invitation or offer functions or


a regret speech acts

Would you like ? grammar -


If only I hadnt structures
Grammar and function

Father: Do you drink?


Young man: No, thanks, Im cool.

Father: Im not offering. Im asking IF you drink. Do you think Id


offer alcohol to teenage drivers taking my daughter out?

In the mid-seventies the relation between grammar and


function became an important issue for teachers. It would be
useful, it was argued, to match forms with their functions.
Grammar and function

Certain form-function matches are fairly easily


identifiable:

the form Would you like ? = an invitation or offer


If only I hadnt = a regret
Grammar and function

the function of warning the form If , will

Youd better not do that. If you do that, youll be in


I wouldnt do that if I were trouble. (warning)
you. If you lie down, youll feel
Mind you dont do that. better. (advice)
If you do that, youll be in If it rains, well take a taxi.
trouble. (plan)
Do that and youll be in If you pass your driving
trouble. test, Ill buy you a car.
(promise)
The case for grammar The case against grammar

1. The sentence-machine 1. The knowledge-how


argument argument
2. The fine-tuning argument 2. The communication
3. The advance-organiser argument
argument 3. The acquisition argument
4. The discrete item argument 4. The natural order argument
5. The rule-of law argument 5. The lexical chunks argument
6. The learner expectations 6. The learner expectations
argument argument
THE CASE FOR GRAMMAR:

1. The sentence-machine argument

Grammar is a kind of sentence-making


machine, a means for potentially limitless
linguistic creativity.
THE CASE FOR GRAMMAR: 2. The fine-tuning argument
While it is possible to get a lot of
Grammar allows for communicative mileage out of simply
greater subtlety of stringing words and phrases together,
meaning than a there comes a point where Me
Tarzan, you Jane-type language fails
merely lexical system to deliver, both in terms of
can cater for. intelligibility and in terms of
appropriacy.
THE CASE FOR GRAMMAR: 3. The advance-organizer argument

Grammar teaching
develops the skill of Have you
noticed this
noticing, which is a form?

prerequisite for
acquisition a kind
of advance organizer
for later acquisition
of the language
THE CASE FOR GRAMMAR: 4. The discrete item argument

By tidying language up
and organising it into
neat categories
(discrete items),
grammarians make
language digestible.
THE CASE FOR GRAMMAR: 5. The rule-of law argument

Since grammar is a system of learnable rules, it lends


itself to a view of teaching and learning known as
transmission. A transmission view sees the role of
education as the transfer of a body of knowledge from
those that have the knowledge to those that do not.
Such a view is typically associated with the kind of
institutionalised learning where rules, order and
discipline are highly valued. The need for rules, order
and discipline is particulary acute in large classes of
unruly and unmotivated teenagers. In this sort of
situation grammar offers the teacher a structured
system that can be taught and tested in methodical
steps.
THE CASE FOR GRAMMAR

6. The learner expectations argument

Many learners come to language classes with


fairly fixed expectations as to what they will
do there. Some students may expect that
teaching will be grammar-focused and
systematic.
The teacher who ignores this expectation by
encouraging learners simply to experience
language is likely to frustrate and alienate
them.
THE CASE AGAINST GRAMMAR

1. The knowledge-how argument


2. The communication argument
3. The acquisition argument
4. The natural order argument
5. The lexical chunks argument
6. The learner expectations argument
THE CASE AGAINST GRAMMAR: 1. The knowledge-how argument

If you take the language-is-skill point of view, then it


follows that, like bike riding, you learn it by doing it,
not by studying it. Learning-by-doing is what is called
experiential learning.
Much of the bad press associated with intellectual
approaches to language learning (e.g. the learning of
copious grammar rules) stems from the failure on
the part of the learner to translate rules into skills.
Automaticity

Overanalyzing language, thinking too much about its


forms, and consciously lingering on rules of language
all tend to impede [this] graduation to automaticity.
THE CASE AGAINST GRAMMAR: 2. The communication argument

There is more to knowing a language than knowing its


grammar. It is one thing to know that Do you drink? is a
present simple question. It is another thing to know that it
can function as an offer. This simple observation is at the
heart of what is now called the Communicative Approach, or
Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). From the 1970s on,
theorists have been arguing that grammatical knowledge
(linguistic competence) is merely one component of what
they call communicative competence.

Two schools of thought emerged:

SHALLOW-END APPROACH: you learn a language in order to


use it
DEEP-END APPROACH: you use a language to learn it
THE CASE AGAINST GRAMMAR: 3. The acquisition argument

We all learned our first language without being taught grammar rules. If it
works for the first, why shouldnt it work for the second?

This argument received a new impetus in the 1970s through the work of S.
Krashen. He makes the distiction between learning and acquisition.
Acquisition is a natural process: it is the process by which the L1 is picked
up, and by which other languages are picked up soley through contact
with speakers of those languages.

Krashens claims:

(1) Acquisition occurs when the learner is exposed to the right input in a
stress-free environment so that innate learning capacities are triggered.
(2) Succes in a L2 is due to acquisition, not learning.
(3) Learnt knowledge can never become acquired knowledge.
LEARNING GRAMMAR

There is no research evidence that


explicit knowledge of grammar
aids acquisition of the
grammatical system.
The relationship between instruction and acquisition

Instruction does not lead to Grammar + opportunities to


acquisition. Comprehensible communicate led to greater
input is necessary and improvements in fluency and
sufficient for acquisition. grammatical accuracy than
grammar only.
(Krashen 1982) (Montgomery & Eisenstein 1985)

Grammatical forms will only be Declarative knowledge (ability to


acquired when instruction identify errors and state rule
violations) does not lead to
matches the learners procedural knowledge (ability to use
developmental stage. grammar to communicate) without
opportunities to activate knowledge
(Pienemann 1989)
through practice.
(Wudong 1994)
THE CASE AGAINST GRAMMAR: 4. The natural order argument

Krashens acquisition/learning hypothesis drew heavily on


studies that suggest there is a natural order of
acquisition of grammatical items, irrespective of the
order in which they are taught.
This view derives partly from the work of Chomsky. He
argues that humans are hard-wired to learn
languages: there are universal principles of grammar
that we are born with.

The natural oder argument insists that a textbook


grammar is not, nor can ever become, a mental
grammar.
THE CASE AGAINST GRAMMAR: 5. The lexical chunks argument

Language learning seems to involve an element of


item-learning. We learn chunks of language
(phrases, idioms, social formulae, etc.). Chunks are
larger than words but often less than sentences.

How much of SLA involves item-learning as opposed to


rule-learning is still an open question. A lexical
approach promotes the learning of frequently used
and fairly formulaic expressions (Have you ever been
? Would you like a ?) rather than the study of
abstract grammatical categories such as the present
perfect or conditionals.
THE CASE AGAINST GRAMMAR: 6. The learner expectations argument

The learner expectations argument cuts both


ways: some learners demand grammar,
others just want to talk.
Its the teachers job to respond sensitively to
these expectations, to provide a balance
where possible, and even to negotiate a
compromise.
NOMINATION OF THE THINGS THAT
HELPED MOST AND LEAST IN
LEARNING ENGLISH