Reasons Why You Can’t Avoid Teaching Grammar
In a world where communication is the most important thing and language - your own or a second (even third or fourth) - grammar seems to be overlooked by people as unimportant. But is that really so? And is this true for all areas of communication? And do we only tend to say this because grammar is challenging for both teachers and learners?
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Amal D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
In traditional education, grammar was at the core of all language lessons - you started with it, you finished with it and very often had it for homework. Classes seemed long and not much variety was shown because it followed one pattern - the teacher thought the lesson and then numerous exercises were given to the students, mostly for individual completion. Times changed, and now in many educational systems, the typical classroom looks very different. This is because we don’t have the blackboard and the chalk as a resource only, or just the prescribed books. Communication, or getting your message as fast as you can, is essential for our society and this left grammar slightly to the side. People no longer write letters but send instant messages - with no capitals, no punctuation, and no grammar rules are followed. The purpose is one - key words that we are certain the receiver decodes immediately.
In Modern World
Technology has made us act and react a lot faster and since our everyday lives do not require language that follows strict grammar rules. Traditional grammars used mostly meaning-based definitions (semantics) to define grammatical notions. For example, in a school grammar, define the verb as follows: In the sentence, the verb is used to express action and assign it to a subject. Lili moves a lot with her dance classes. (Action) Lili is athletic and can swim across the lake. (feature) This type of definition is a problem. This means that to understand, he will use more examples than the definition. Convenient-in, it would be difficult to explain, based on a definition only semantic, why to choose words like dance and swimming here are names and not verbs. In new grammar, keep the semantic definition.
However, so that the student has several tools to identify the words, we also use the definitions based on the form (morphological): The verb is the word that changes the most because it is conjugated. Its form changes according to the moment when it expresses and the subject. Today, I'm singing a new song. (Present indicative, subject to the 1st person of singular) We also add a definition based on the use of the word in the (syntactic) sentence: To locate a conjugated verb, on the frame by not. Germain will come camping. - Germain will not come camping.
So do we leave grammar out of our curricula?
Definitely not! Unless there is a language that follows no grammar rules (possibly it will be invented for everyone’s convenience) - the skill we need to communicate in highly valued professions like in the field of business, politics, medicine, media, and etc., require eloquent professionals. But can they become such, if, in the process of their education, grammar was completely and utterly deleted? Indeed, the answer is no. Their language skills have to be built from a very early stage and be developed by the time they start presenting their work publicly and taken seriously based on the quality (comprising of their subject knowledge and grammar skills). It must be said that, in English usage, the word "grammar" was quickly associated with good use, to speak correctly; grammar is like "The art that teaches to speak correctly"
Grammar in Communication
It is common to contrast to grammar and communication. Many people think that grammar is not as important as communication, because "English is above all communication." Grammatical competence is an essential component of communication, as the CECRL points out.
When we talk about grammar skills that professionals need, what do we mean? Have you ever read or heard someone, who keeps repeating the same words over and over? Or using structures only suitable for children? Clearly, this shows this person was not very careful in their grammar classes. Manipulating parts of speech and sentences for effect, understanding and using various rules that impact the audience is a result of quality education. But how do we achieve this nowadays? The times have changed, but the requirements for quality education stay the same - how could this be achieved? Teachers, as well as many other types of professionals, had to change their methods and approach to adapt to the circumstances. Engaging the students through concise explanations and employing technology, games and practical exercises are only to mention a few that could be used.
It should be noted that the CERCL is not in itself anti-grammatical, contrary to what we sometimes hear. The common framework recognizes the usefulness of grammatical knowledge and encourages the use of "reference grammars" (undefined expression). Also, it explicitly states that to carry out certain communicative tasks, one must use functions, notions, vocabulary, and grammar. What seems obvious, but which has sometimes been neglected in the interpretation of the common framework, is repeated in the CERCL: to communicate well presupposes good grammatical knowledge.
The editors of the European framework also ask the users of this framework to explain "on which grammatical theory they based their work". The framework comes to our rescue: the grammatical theory is unavoidable. You can’t just "do grammar". The framework believes that the learner must acquire and form and sense, by putting two approaches in competition: one that favors going from meaning to form and the more traditional one that organizes progression in purely formal terms. The perspective favored by the CERCL is nevertheless of the type actional type of approach that does not place in the foreground the teaching of grammar for itself
Real State of Grammar in Class
I wanted by this long detour to explain the questioning of grammar in language courses. What once seemed obvious, "language is grammar," is strongly contested. Grammar is no longer really taught in English classes, so much so that some students now have trouble using verb forms in English, It is necessary to campaign for a grammar of understanding, to which can be added the pleasure of reflection. To make the grammar of understanding is to pay homage to who we are: thinking beings, why beings. Grammar also gives us pause to reflect on our conception of the world and the relativity of this conception. We do not categorize sugar, tea or coffee in the same way, nor of course hair. "Grammar is one of the humanistic sciences, because of being, like sociology or political science (...) Grammar is an opening to another way of thinking the language and seeing the world; it means being in the world, being a cognitive, working to develop intellectual skills "Grammar is one of the human sciences, because it corresponds, like sociology or political science, to a description of human behavior ". Grammar also teaches human.
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