Why Grammar Shouldn’t be Neglected in the Classroom
To learn a language, most people would consider it important to understand the structure or rules that govern that language, if one is going to communicate effectively. Grammar can be viewed as the set of rules governing language. Online resources such as Cambridge Dictionary (n.d.), have referred to grammar as being “the study or use of the rules, about how words change their form and combine with other words to make sentences”. While this definition might clarify the meaning of the word, it falls short in terms of justifying the importance of grammar, especially about teaching English as a foreign language. When one teaches English one might have students whose first language is completely different in structure to English. To give depth to this topic, academic studies on this issue have been researched, with an emphasis placed on the work conducted by researchers in China, India, and Ethiopia.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Richardo T. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Wang (2010) a researcher on the topic of English language teaching in China, views mastering grammar as the foundation for proficiency in a language and considers it difficult for students to speak English well without learning English grammar. A similar sentiment is shared by Debata (2013) in his research into language learning India. Debata (2013) doesn’t believe a person can learn a foreign language accurately only through a process of unconscious assimilation. The researcher views grammar as a means of reference when linguistic habits fail us.
Other researchers have noted the relationship between grammar and writing ability. Abate (2008) an Ethiopian researcher, raised the issue of learning grammar to develop one’s writing. He states that integrating grammar with writing instruction is a helpful means of presenting and practicing language forms and functions. According to him, the lack of thorough instruction in grammar has created problems about the teaching of English in Ethiopia. Abate (2008) notes that students in high schools don’t get the opportunity to learn basic grammatical structures in Grades Eleven and Twelve, and because of this, “many secondary and university students have a great problem in writing grammatically accurate sentences in their composition” (Abate 2008, p.3). This issue is also brought to one’s attention by Wang (2010) who notes that in the English foundation stage in China, weakness about instruction in English grammar, directly affects students’ grades. When students go to high school or university, many students do not understand sentence structure (Wang 2010). Zhang (1999) who also researched grammar in China, stated that in learning a foreign language one needs to “have a criterion which is used to measure true and false and guide what to do and what not to do, and this criterion is just grammar” (Zhang 1999, p. 106).
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It has been demonstrated by this research that grammar is important, to properly communicate, and it is important in terms of writing the language. As the course has started, to cover the whole grammatical system would take years. However, without the basic grammar as a foundation for one’s learning of a foreign language, the lack of this knowledge would only hamper individuals from fully developing their speaking and writing abilities. It is for these reasons that I believe learning grammar is important.
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