Learning Grammar as the Most Essential Part of Language Learning
The Cambridge dictionary defines grammar as ‘(the study or use of) the rules about how words change their form and combine with other words to make sentences’, but other dictionaries also include punctuation within the definition and, although they may not be strictly correct, the two aspects are so tightly interrelated, within the context of explicit and tacit meaning, the one can’t be divorced from the other. One describes the landscape — past, present, and future — while the other provides the form: defining where entities begin and end, where the silences occur before turning the corner to meet with a new sound. The landscape has a pulse: it has rhythm.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Crosswell D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
So, there’s an interrelationship that can’t be ignored here; we have to dispel a Descartian perception of fragmentation.
Is it possible to learn grammar and, by obvious inference, to teach it, in isolation? Yes, of course, but only by the phrase, because as soon as we extend that to even as much as a dependent clause, oops! There’s a comma and/or full-stop and, if we look back, we might find an apostrophe has sneaked in, also.
All of this gives pause, to a greater or lesser extent, to the flow of thought generated by the words, persuading our perceptions to those of the speaker or writer. And these two tools work together, in harmony, to achieve exactly that: here is the kinship and reason for the close association. And, in harmony, tools of a powerful craft, mightier than the sword, employed for good or ill but, as with all tools, guiltless, merely steered by the intent that take them up.
Before the conquest, however, the apprenticeship must be served.
Parts of speech need to be understood, but this need not be a rote learning memory grind. Words have context, so place them in that context. Create the association through demonstration, by way of the visual aid, then on the board, on the worksheet, and into the mind. Nouns are a good place to start, followed by the words that describe them (adjectives), then a short venture into articles brings the early learner to the point of creating their first sentences (finished by a full-stop, of course). Visible progress promoting learning where it needs to be promoted — within the learner, and enhancing the student/teacher rapport factor, as a natural consequence, exponentially accelerating the process.
Parts of speech are far from all and when we bump into prepositions, dealing with a location in time and space, we begin to get a hint of the time factor that tense deals with.
Here, at last, we understand the relevance of the white rabbit, the fob watch, and his continual requirement to be on the run. The reason for Lewis Carroll’s predilection for mathematics also becomes more apparent.
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Dealing with teaching English as a foreign language it pays to know about tense, but not a subject to become compulsively obsessed with.
It’s important to be able to demonstrate correct language form within a time context, but far more important to speak naturally in the same way native speakers do, the vast majority of whom would know nothing about it.
The ever-changing landscape of language in an environment that would require constant involvement to ensure an ability to survive within it in the pedagogical aspect. If you don’t maintain familiarity with the environment, you won’t adapt to the changes it goes through and, if you don’t adapt, you perish. Just ask the next dinosaur you meet.
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