Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Grammar Teaching Should Be Implicit
Strictly Explicit Grammar Study
Strictly explicit grammar study however, and even grammar-focused lessons are often not communicatively based. They can therefore be boring, cumbersome and difficult for students to assimilate. The strict teaching of grammar / structure, except with students of the Logical – Mathematical or Verbal – Linguistic intelligences (H.Gardner, 1988), can be frustrating and highly ineffective. Thus enters Implicit grammar teaching methodologies.
In the early 20th century, Jespersen, like Boas, thought grammar should be studied by examining living speech rather than by analyzing written documents. By providing grammar in context, in an implicit manner, we can expose students to substantial doses of grammar study without alienating them to the learning of English or other foreign language. I also agree with this implicit approach of teaching grammar. The principal manner in which I accomplish this is by teaching short grammar-based sessions immediately followed by additional function-based lessons in which the new grammar / structure is applied in context.
Acquisition vs. Learning
The hypothesis of language-learning researcher Stephen Krashen, pictured above, is that adult language students have two distinct ways of developing skills and knowledge in a second language, acquisition and learning. Acquiring a language is “picking it up”, i.e., developing ability in a language by using it in natural, communicative situations. Learning language differs in that it is “knowing the rules” and having a conscious knowledge of grammar / structure. Adults acquire language, although usually not as easily or as well as children. (Krashen – Terrell, 1984)
Acquisition, however, is the most important means for gaining linguistic skills. A person’s first language (L1) is primarily learned in this way. This manner of developing language skills typically employs implicit grammar teaching and learning.
This does not exclude explicit grammar-teaching entirely, however. Some basic features of English language grammar structure are illogical or highly dissimilar to speakers of other languages and do not readily lend themselves to being well understood, even when presented in context. In cases where features of English grammar are diametrically opposed or in some other way radically different from the manner of expression in the student’s L1, explicit teaching may be required as will be considered further in the following article post of this series.
Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on the lucrative, fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign Language, get your copy of his no-cost, full multi-media, hypertext-linked pdf ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know” by sending an e-mail to email@example.com with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. Need professional, original content and photos or images for your blog, newsletter, e-zine or website? Want more information, have a comment or special request? E-mail the author for a prompt response.