Focal points • The role of grammar in ELT • Grammar presentation methods • Grammar practice
The role of grammar in ELT • The value of grammar in foreign language teaching has been a focus of debate for decades, and no conclusion is in sight.
Some assumptions about grammar in language learning Read the following statements about grammar in English learning and decide if you agree with them or not.
1.Students need to be given detailed grammar rules if they want to learn a foreign language successfully. 2.Children do not learn grammar rules when they acquire their first language, so they do not need them either when learning a foreign language. 3.If students get enough chance to practice using a foreign language, they do not need to learn grammar.
4.Making students aware of grammatical information is one of the teaching objectives, allowing students opportunities for using the language is just as important. 5.Grammar should be taught to help students to analyze difficult structures in texts. 6.Teaching and learning grammar should focus on practice rather than the study of grammar itself. 7.Grammar should be taught and practiced in context.
8. Knowing grammar is not enough for real communication. 9. An inadequate knowledge of grammar would severely constrain the capacity for communication. 10.Grammar will always be “the boring bit” of language learning.
Two extremes in grammar teaching over emphasize the roles of grammar overlook the roles of grammar
The answer to whether grammar should be taught and to what extent grammar should be taught depends on some variables in the language teaching/learning context, such as learner variables and instructional variables.
It is generally believed that • Grammar teaching is less important for children than for adults; • Grammar teaching is less important in listening and reading than in writing.
Generally speaking, Chinese learners of English as a foreign language need a certain degree of mastery of English grammar. • However, it should be noted that learning grammar itself is not the ultimate goal of leaning English.
Grammar teaching can be seen in most formal classroom language teaching.
Over emphasis • Avoidance • Weakening teaching
Classroom procedure of grammar instruction For a structure-based lesson For a skill-based lesson Presentation Practice Production Pre-reading While-reading Post-reading
presentation The teacher introduces new language in particular communicative situations, focusing on its meaning, form and on its function.The emphasis at this stage is on meaning and form. (2)practice Students work through activities from controlled to free in order to practice the new language in different situations.The emphasis at the beginning of this stage is on accuracy. (3) production Students have the chance to use the new language freely and incorporate it into their existing language.The emphasis at this stage is on use.
Presentation Practice production Accuracy control teacher- centered Fluency communication student-centered
Studies in the past two decades display controversial findings on explicit and implicit instruction.
Explicit grammar teaching(显性语法教学) Implicit grammar teaching(隐性语法教学)
As research indicates, grammar instruction should be mainly implicit, supported by explicit instruction. At the beginning stage, it is better to adopt mainly the implicit approaches, and as students progress, the ratio of explicit instruction can be increased.
The best approach is the combination of both implicit and explicit instruction.
the deductive method （演绎法） the inductive method （归纳法） the guided discovery method (引导发现法）
The deductive method The deductive method relies on reasoning, analysing and comparing. 1.The ruleis given first. 2.The teacher explains the rules with examples (in the students’ native language and use grammatical terms, comparison may be done between the newly presented structure and previously learned structures language and the native language). 3.Students apply the rules to given situations(practices).
The deductive method is criticized because: • Grammar is taught in an isolated way; • Little attention is paid to meaning; • The practice is often mechanical.
However, the deductive method is not without merits. • It could be very successful with selected and motivated students. • It could save time when students are confronted with a grammar rule which is complex but which has to be learned. • It may help to increase student’ confidence in those examinations which are written with accuracy as the main criterion of success.
The inductive method Students are given the structure in context (authentic or near authentic) & are asked to work out the rule for themselves. They are given guidance from the teacher in using evidence from the context to work out the usage of the structure.
In the inductive method, the teacher induces the learners to realise grammar rules without any form of explicit explanation. • It is believed that the rules will become evident if the students are given enough appropriate examples. Implicit grammar instruction
It is believed that the inductive method is more effective in that(=because) students discover the grammar rules themselves while engaged in language use. What they discover by themselves are better remembered.
But if the structure is not easy for the learners to discover themselves even with a context provided, it is better to teach the rule explicitly.
In practice, the distinction between the deductive method and the inductive method is not always apparent.
the guided discovery method (引导发现法） • A combination of the deductive method and the inductive method the combination of both implicit and explicit instruction
The students are induced to discover rules by themselves. The process of the discovery is carefully guided by the teacher and the rules are elicited and taught explicitly.
The students are presented with contextualised examples illustrating a specific structure. 2.students are guided to discover the underlying rule of the structure as well as its meaning in context. 3.the teacher teaches the target structure explicitly.
Grammar practice Grammar presentation is concerned with How to make the students understand or discover grammar rules. It is practice that helps students develop grammatical capability.
According to Ur, “practice may be defined as any kind of engaging with the language on the part of the learner, usually under the teacher supervision, whose primary objective is to consolidate learning” .(Ur, 1988:11)
Ur predicts that the following 6 factors contribute to successful practice: • Pre-learning. Learners benefit from clear perception and short-term memory of the new language. • Volume and repetition. The more exposure to or production of language the learners have, the more likely they are to learn. • Success-orientation. Practice is most effective when based on successful practice.
Heterogeneity. Practice should be able to elicit different sentences and generate different levels of answers from different learners. • Teacher assistance. The teacher should providesuggestions, hints and prompts. • Interest : an essential feature that is closely related to concentration
Mechanical practice Mechanical practice involves activities that are aimed at form accuracy. e.g. • Substitution drills • Transformation drills
Substitute the underlined part with the proper forms of the given words: green lawn clean house pretty garden nice flowers Mrs Green has the largest house in town.
Change the following sentences into the past tense. Use the adverbs given in the brackets. • Now he lives in London. (last year, Paris) • We have English and maths today. (yesterday, music and P. E.) • He usually gets up at seven. (this morning, eight)
Questions for discussion • What is the purpose of mechanical practice? • What are the advantages and disadvantage of mechanical practice?
Meaningful practice • In meaningful practice the focus is on the production, comprehension or exchange of meaning, though the students “keep an eye on” the way newly learned structures are used in the process. e.g. After the presentation and mechanical practice of adjective comparatives and superlatives:
Pair work: Look at the table below. Rank the items on the left column according to the criteria listed on the top.
The students may come up with: • I think beer is cheaper than fruit. • No, no, I think fruit is cheaper than beer.
Questions for discussion • What are the advantages of meaningful practice? • Does it have any possible disadvantages?
A task for you • Suppose you have just presented the simple past tense to a group of Junior 2 students. Design a meaningful practice activity.
There is no clear-cut distinction between mechanical practice and meaningful practice. • e.g.