Should we teach grammar at all??

Questions from teachers about English grammar and usage

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Should we teach grammar at all??

Unread post by poppsensei » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:47 pm

Just thought I would liven up the board. This will always get a good discussion going! I think teaching grammar is a complete wast of time because it is an unnatural and especially, in terms of the English language, nasty confuser and deceiver of students and teachers. I was taught very little grammar as I went through my school years. We were taught the categories "nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions and conjunctions" for the words we spoke and used fluently in the 5th year of elementary school. We thought it was really silly but it seemed very important to the English teacher! Then in my 7th and 8th year we were taught about all the tenses and we diagrammed sentences and got very confused and the teacher got very upset that we couldn't memorize all the rules of grammar and spelling and we all thought that we were "bad" or "less intelligent" and we were all told how awful our local dialect sounded and that we needed to speak "proper" English or sound like bumpkins for the rest of our lives....
Grammar is learned not by studying the rules of grammar but by reading and speaking and listening to our parents and friends. We "learn" that "wa-wa" isn't going to cut it anymore and that Mama really wants us to use "Water". Then Mama really thinks its important for us to say, "May I have some water please?"
When we take our students out of this natural context and abort their natural assimilation of grammar through usage and gentle correction, well, by gershk, it almost constitutes abuse!
And what is English "grammar" anyway?? Could there be any topic more destined to cause confusion and despair in our students' minds? English Grammar is a grammar salad of "old" German lettuce and a bunch of "high-class" Norman French tomatoes thrown in with a Gaelic, Latin, Greek, Norwegian/Danish dressing. What a dressing! Take one whole potato, add tomato sauce, kalamata olives and blend. Then take the mixture that results and boil it in fish stock....Ahhh, do we really think our students are going to say, "English Grammar! Yummy!"
Any takers ;-)

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Re: Should we teach grammar at all??

Unread post by RosalindaPerez » Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:56 am

Yes, it's quite true that learners of English do not need to study the rigors of grammar to be able to speak accurately and fluently. With the current communicative method of teaching, students can learn grammar through games, role-plays, word-substitution exercises, and other various forms of activities.

But as teachers of English, I believe we can be at an advantage if we know how the language we are teaching works. Equipped with the essential knowledge of phonology and syntax,we can do the following:

1. correct mistakes of students more efficiently
2. develop techniques to teach students how to manipulate the language
3. be more creative in the exercises or activities that we develop to raise the student's level
of accuracy

Thus, it is not the conventional teaching of grammar (i.e. sentence diagramming, enumerating parts of speech, etc.) by English instructors that is relevant to a student's learning how to speak a language. It is the firm knowledge of grammar by English instructors that is relevant to a student's learning how to speak a language.

Just as an accountant wouldn't be able to complete an accurate financial statement without knowing the rigors of calculating for depreciations and cash flows;
Just as a financial analyst wouldn't be able to give sound business advice to his corporate client without knowing the rigors of price/earnings ratio and asset allocations;
Neither would an English teacher be able to effectively teach without knowing the rigors of English grammar.

Well, these are just my thoughts on the matter based on my experience as an English teacher.

Rosalinda Perez

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Re: Should we teach grammar at all??

Unread post by faariwasi » Sun Dec 21, 2014 2:48 pm

Though the awkward sentences are grammatically correct, they sound awkward as the noun phrases in question are not being used in the right context. Beginning speakers usually tend to generate such awkward though grammatically correct sentences because of their inexperience in using the language. But as they grow more immersed in the listening, speaking, reading, and writing of the language, they will be more capable of judging in which context certain noun phrases should be used.

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