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Andre Borges

on 17 September 2013

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Transcript of Grammar

Teaching Grammar
What is GRAMMAR?
Grammar is about the FORM of the language, but is also used to make MEANING in context appropriate USE.

It is a dynamic system, not just a static system of rules.

Teachers should create conditions of the use of grammar in the classroom where students are free to explore the language for their own purposes.
Our goal is to help students use language accurately, meaningfully, and appropriately.
The teaching process
- World Englishes.
Native speakers x ELF (English as a lingua franca)
Some variations should be considered errors?
“Language is not fixed, but is rather a dynamic system. Language evolves and changes… [it] grows and organizes itself from the bottom up in an organic way, as do other complex systems.”
(Diane Larsen-Freeman 2006)
Diane Larsen-Freeman
Andre Borges
track 2
“The past is always tense, the future perfect.”
Zadie Smith

“A man's grammar, like Caesar's wife, should not only be pure, but above suspicion of impurity.”
Edgar Allan Poe

“Research has shown that teachers who focus students’ attention on form during communicative interactions are more effective than those who never focus on form.”

Spada and Lightbown, 1993.

The term GRAMMAR is ambiguous.

Prescriptive grammar (Linguists)
the way that a language 'ought to' be used

Descriptive grammar
how speakers of a language actually use the it

e.g. It is I x It is me.

GRAMMAR is a system of lexicogrammatical patterns that are used to make meaning in appropriate ways.
Social context
Linguistic discourse co-text

Lexical meaning
Grammatical meaning

Morphosyntactic and lexical patterns
Phonemic/ graphemic patterns


Informal discourse
Principle of dominance

Multiple meanings

Verb + particle
Verb + particle + preposition
Transitive/ intrans.
Separable/ inseparable
Stress and juncture


‘s versus possessive determiner
‘s versus of the
‘s versus noun compounds

Part/ whole
Origin/ agent

‘s or s’
/z/~/s/~/schwa z/

How is it formed?

What does it mean?

When/ why is it used?

The pie chart

(sound) (writing)

(i.e., the language that precedes or follows a particular structure in the discourse, or how a particular genre or register affects the use of a construction)
The influence of pragmatics answer two questions:

When and why does a person choose a particular grammar construction over another that could express the same meaning?
e.g. Do you have the time? x Please tell me the time.

When or why does a person vary the form of a particular linguistic construction?
e.g. Jenny gave Hank a brand-new comb. x Jenny a brand-new comb to Hank.
A three-dimensional grammar framework
The learning process
It is important to teachers know that:
Learners do not learn constructions one at a time. It is a gradual process involving the mapping of form, meaning, and use.
Even when learners appear to have mastered a particular constructions, it is not uncommon to find new errors being made. BE x BED (past)
Language learners rely on knowledge and experience they already have. L1 => L2 (successful teaching identify the challenges for a particular group and work on it)
Different learning process. SLA suggests a need for the teaching process to respect the differences

Teachers do not present all these facts to students. And certainly not in a single class. Students can and do learn some of them on their own.

Distributing the features of the target grammatical construction gives the teacher the necessary scope. Of course, if teachers are not able to fill in all the wedges of the pie on their own, that tells them something, too.
We should not expect our students to learn their L2 as they did their L1. L1 is learned over a long period of time, but for L2 focus and explicit attention seems to be desirable, especially for older learners.

When there is no explicit attention paid to grammatical form , non-native forms often become stabilized (Harley & Swain, 1984), even fossilized (Han, 2004)

Giving learners explicit guidance can, but need not, involve grammatical terminology. It does not mean to point out how the grammar works.

Present, practice, produce (PPP)
Traditional Grammar has used three phases:
1st - Understanding of the grammar point (sometimes using the L1 and L2 differences)
2nd - Oral drills and written exercises
3rd - Students are given opportunities for communicative use
Focus on form

Instead of teaching a long list of grammatical constructions in a preemptive way, Long (2007) proposed a reactive approach, whereby, learners are primarily engaged in communication with only brief digression to grammar when necessary (e.g., when learners commit errors).

In addition to unobtrusive error corrections, some means of focusing on form are:
Enhancing the input. By highlighting some nonsalient grammatical forms in a reading passage.
Input flooding. Choosing texts which a particular structure contrasts.
Input processing. Instead of rule application and rule learning, students do activities where the structure is being used with meaning. The examples are chosen to salient the differences between L1 and L2.
Swan (2005) claims that the traditional PPP has failed.
Larsen-Freeman (2003) suggests that grammar instruction needs not only to promote awareness in students but also engage them in meaningful production (Toth, 2006)

Larsen-Freeman says that the proper goal of grammar instruction should be GRAMMARING, the ability to use the grammar constructions accurately, meaningfully, and appropriately. The addition of -ING to grammar is meant to suggest a dynamic process of grammar using.

Which dimension of a grammar construction is practiced and the way it is practiced will depend on the nature of the learning challenge.

- If the learning challenge is form, a great deal of meaningful iteration will be required. Students will have to be restricted to using just the particular target form.

- Meaning calls for some associative learning (N. Ellis, 1998), where students are giving opportunity to associate the form and the meaning of the particular target construction.

- Give activities that have two or more forms that are some what equivalent in which students must choose the most appropriate one.
Explicit grammar instruction
Consciousness-raising task
- students’ job is to induce a grammatical generalization from the data they have been given.

The garden path strategy (Tomasello and Herron 1988;1989)
- give students information about structure without giving them the full picture, thus making it seem easier than it is.

- Teachers have students check writings online to determine what patterns exist and which occur more frequently. Thus, students can be taught to create their own knowledge.

Collaborative dialogues
- participation in collaborative dialogue, through which learners can provide support for each other and discuss the use of language.
Providing feedback
Providing feedback is an essential function of language teaching.
There are many ways to do it:
- reformulating correctly what a student has said incorrectly
- repeat what the student has just said up to the point of the error, signaling the student that something needs to be changed
Giving a student an explicit rule

They don't have to be used exclusively.
Related pedagogical issues
- Grammar constructions are not acquired one at a time through an additive process (Rutherford, 1987).

Different aspects are learned throughout the L2 development.

Teachers might think of a grammar checklist instead of a grammatical sequence. Not linear, but according to the student's development.

Teachers may not have control on the process, due to prescribed syllabi or textbooks.
Inductive vs. deductive presentation
- An inductive activity is one in which students infer the rule or the generalization from a set of examples. In a deductive activity, the students are given the rule, and they apply it to the rule.
Reasons, not rules
- Teachers should concentrate on teaching 'reasons, not rules' (Larsen-Freeman, 2000). Many rules appear arbitrary because they are form based, ignoring meaning and use dimensions. Rules provide some security for learners and reasons give them a deeper understanding of the Logic.
It depends on the students' purpose in learning English and what ends they will be using their English proficiency in the future.
A complex adaptive system
- language changes all the time and that it does so due to the cumulative innovations that language users make at the local level as they adapt their language resources to new communicative contexts (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008)
- A lot o work still need to be done to reduce dissonance between teaching and testing
I believe that if we know grammar learning strategies it will improve students' learning.
The author springs up some points to be considered about grammar not being a roll of rules which can be applied to any sentence without the context of use.
I see that many of what was shown as the new way grammar is taking, a number of teachers already do it intuitively.

Successful communication is marked by a skill in exploiting the form, allied to use and meaning. The author called this skill grammaring.

The dynamic evolution of grammar created a new process of World Englishes and taking interest in socio-linguistic so it is appropriate that grammar is reexamined in this new environment.

The new grammar is become more worried about the human side than a group of rules and drills.

This chapter has made me reconsider some points in my teaching of grammar, but I believe that the adjustment will take some time.

Final thoughts
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