Grammar teachingis a challenging task in language teaching and it is more challenging inteaching grammar to a second language learner. There are many methods incurrent scenario of grammar teaching. We find teachers using many visual aidsand practical experimentations to teach grammar. Teachers give more effort to teachgrammar than any other part of language teaching. Grammar deals with hard boundrules to acquire a language perfectly.
But these hard bound rules are provednot necessary to learn a language communicative. The L2 learners or secondlanguage learners need the language to be taught communicative. Their need isnot to get mastery in the language but to acquire a basic communication skill.English as alanguage has been taught to us right from the period of Lord Macaulay. Englishlanguage and grammar is in our school curriculum and has been taught right fromthe kinder garden. Grammar teaching begins from the primary school level andtaught in different levels till higher secondary. Our students are exposed tosome ten years of grammar teaching in their school level. But most of them failto acquire even a basic level communication.
Grammar teaching neither gavemastery in language nor provided a basic communication skill even. This has ledus with so many questions to think. Where do we go wrong? Is grammar teachingnecessary in second language teaching? Why do our students show repulsion inlearning grammar?The answer forthese questions can be explained logically. Grammar is not the only way toacquire a second language and at the same time we cannot exclude grammar inlanguage teaching. We go wrong in the method and the level of feeding grammarto the learners. Almost all the nations has changed its pattern in secondlanguage teaching and classified the modules of language teaching according tothe need of the learner. They do not teach grammar excluded from the languageteaching.
They teach grammar along with the course of language teaching. Theyteach grammar practically and do not threaten the learners by showing them asrules to be followed. Grammar is taught to them in application along with theircourse so that the students never show repulsion in learning grammar.
Grammarshould be taught theoretically as rules only to the learners who look formastery in a language. The basic need of a second language learneris to learn the language communicative. In the communicative competence model,the purpose of learning grammar is to learn the language of which the grammaris a part.
Instructors therefore teach grammar forms and structures in relationto meaning and use for the specific communication tasks that students need tocomplete.Our traditional methods of teaching grammarfailed to provide the communicative purpose of a language and now the newmethods provide communicative competency. We can compare the traditional modeland the new communicative competencemodel for teaching the English past tense:Traditional: grammar for grammar’s sake Teach the regular -end form with its two pronunciation variants Teach the doubling rule for verbs that end in d (for example, wed-wedded) Hand out a list of irregular verbs that students must memorize Do pattern practice drills for -ed Do substitution drills for irregular verbsCommunicative competence: grammar for communication’ssake Distribute two short narratives about recent experiences or events, each one to half of the class Teach the regular -ed form, using verbs that occur in the texts as examples. Teach the pronunciation and doubling rules if those forms occur in the texts.
Teach the irregular verbs that occur in the texts. Students read the narratives, ask questions about points they don’t understand. Students work in pairs in which one member has read Story A and the other Story B. Students interview one another; using the information from the interview, they then write up or orally repeat the story they have not read.To be clearer we can say the traditionalmethod of teaching grammar in schools as prescriptive method and the new methodas descriptive method.
These teachersembraced the notion of prescriptive (also called traditional or school)grammar. Grammar was taught as a discrete set of rigid rules to be memorized,practiced, and followed.During the height of the whole language movement, when teaching grammar inisolation became taboo, these teachers were left frustrated and baffled by thelack of grammar instruction in the classroom.English teachers of later generations, on the other hand, joined the professionembracing ideas of descriptive (also called transformational) grammar.These teachers believed that grammar instruction should be matched to thepurpose of the user.
Teachers found descriptive grammar theories to be more flexible,reflecting actual usage and self-expression over “correct”structures.Some people credit the descriptive approach with a general loosening of rulesregarding grammatical structures that were once considered unacceptable, suchas split infinitives.With the widespread institution of standards and high-stakes tests,students are expected to recognize and use correct grammar. Educators can nolonger afford to assume that students acquire an accurate understanding offormal language structures through reading, writing, and speaking.Furthermore, they also cannot assume that prescriptive or descriptive approaches, in isolation, are singularly effective.
Rather, English and language arts teachers must embrace the notion that grammarinstruction, like any other content area, should reflect current pedagogical approaches.Grammar instruction should be tailor-made to meetthe needs of students, and should weave both prescriptive and descriptive practicesinto relevant, meaningful instruction.Sound instructional practice begins with assessment andplanning. Begin building your grammar instruction plan by comparing whatstudents must know with what they already know. Identify the standards.
In this standards-driven era, school curriculum may dictate grammar skills to be taught at each grade level. If the skills are not labeled as grammar skills, use the proofreading/editing skills that are listed under writing standards. These standards clearly identify what the students must know and what the teachers are responsible to teach. Determine what students know. The next step is to determine what your students already know through an assessment. Care must be taken during this assessment; it is easy to test surface knowledge of a grammar concept without testing the underlying knowledge. Many students will be able to recognize a sentence fragment as incorrect, but they may not know the concept by its correct name, why it is incorrect, or how to correct it. The assessment must reveal true understanding of the grammatical concepts.
Plan instruction. Use the results of the pre-assessment to outline three to four grammar skills to focus on each week. The goal of effective grammar instruction is to weave it into the reading and writing that function as the backbone of the English curriculum.
So, consider pacing guide and embed grammar concepts logically into it.Grammar should be fedaccording to the need and purpose of the learner. Grammar in the form of rulesand exercises may threaten the learners and make them reluctant to learngrammar. This may naturally lead to the fear over the language and so thestudents fail to acquire the language communicative.
Teaching grammar must comealong the course of teaching language and it must not be introduced to thestudents as threatening rules. If grammar taught descriptive then thepossibilities of students acquiring the language communicative is more than theprescriptive method. Works citedAn article by Janice Christy, M.Ed., English Department Chair, LouisaCounty High School, Louisa, Virginia.