When approaching this question, we first need to understand what exactly is meant by 'learning grammar'.
To learn is « to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience ». The manner in which one learns is determined by the way one is taught. In the second paragraph of this article, we will examine the ways in which grammar can be taught.
Before this, we must define what grammar is. Grammar is « the abstract system of rules in terms of which a person's mastery of his native language can be explained ». This definition implies that native-speakers can speak without knowledge of grammar. Grammar is an artificial creation by which we explain the preexisting formation of our language.
do not study grammar as they acquire speech. They begin to construct sentences through imitation, until they can create language on their own. Native speakers do not need to learn grammar in order to speak in a grammatically-correct manner. This begs the question of why people learning english
as a foreign language need to learn these artificial rules?
s believe that the manner in which children
learn their language should guide
the teaching of language to foreign students. Followers of this doctrine believe the students will naturally pick up the dictates of language, as they did with their own language as children
Other theorists and teacher
s disagree. children
will have had constant exposure to their mother-tongue language before they even utter their first word. Even then, it will take years of trial and error before children
can construct sentences. Older students cannot recreate these conditions, and will inevitably compare the construction of the language they are learning with their mother-tongue.
It is as a result of these comparisons that grammar is essential to learning a new language. If grammar is « the abstract system of rules in terms of which a person's mastery of his native language can be explained », then language students need to learn these rules in order to correctly reproduce language. Grammar is the user's manual to the language. Native-speakers 'feel' the language, which is something that language students cannot do. Grammar replaces the instinct.
On the other hand, I believe that younger students do not have the same need to learn grammar. Because they are still learning their native language, they have not yet adopted the dictates of their own language. This means that they have more 'flexible' minds, that they can accept to reproduce another language without needing to learn the rules beforehand. It is impossible and unnecessary to teach children
grammar, especially when they cannot yet read or write in their native language.
learn grammar instinctively. This means that the teacher
should focus on activities in which the students will be exposed to properly spoken english
, such as story-telling. Young students also learn by imitation, so activities involving repetition are excellent.
Adults, unfortunately, have lost the ability to learn a language by imitation only. They crave rules and reasons to teach them how to produce language.
This in no way means that adults should be dictated the rules as they passively sit by, copying out rules in their note books.
First of all, the teacher
must determine what the objective of the course is. Preparation lessons for a formal examination will need to focus largely on grammar. On the other hand, a course of business english
will dedicate more time to vocabulary and conversation skills.
The teaching of grammar needs to tailored according to the background of the students. High school students are often in contact with grammar every day, and should be used to the formulas used. Adults who have been in the working world will, on the other hand, probably have forgotten most of the grammar they were taught at school, and will need lessons based far more on practical examples and exercises.
also needs to decide how to teach. Inductive teaching, known as the 'bottom-up' approach, leads students to discover grammar through exercises. On the other hand, deductive teaching introduces the rules of grammar before setting exercises for the students to apply
what they have learned.
Definitions found on dictionary.com