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APPROACHES IN THE

TEACHING OF
GRAMMAR

TSL 3108

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APPROACHES IN THE
TEACHING OF GRAMMAR
• * Descriptive vs. prescriptive
grammar
• * Covert and overt approaches
• * Grammar in isolation vs grammar
in context
• * MUF (Meaning, Use, Form
Framework)
• * Integration with the teaching of
listening, speaking , reading and
writing skills
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GRAMMATICAL DESCRIPTION

• Gives an account of the


sentence structures that are
possible in that language
• Identify grammatical units
smaller than sentence and
give rules to explain how these
are combined to make
sentences
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GRAMMATICAL DESCRIPTION

• Smallest unit of grammar is


generally taken to be the
• ‘word’
• Largest unit of grammar is the
‘sentence’

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HIERARCHY OF UNITS
SENTENCE Jack played in the garden while I was working

CLAUSE Jack played in the garden while I was working

PHRASE Jack played in the garden while I was working

WORD Jack played in the garden while I was working


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HIERARCHY OF UNITS
SENTENCE

Main clause subordinate clause

Noun Verb Prepositional conjunction noun verb


Phrase Phrase Phrase phrase Phrase
noun phrase
noun verb preposition determiner noun conjunction pro verb verb

Jack played in the garden while I was working

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HIERARCHICAL APPROACH

•Known as embedding / nesting


•Sentence: consists of 1/more
clauses
•Clause: consists of 1/more
phrases
•Phrases: consists of 1/more
words
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GRAMMATICAL DESCRIPTION

1. Structural (formal)
description:
primarily concerned with
accounting for all possible
forms of a language, and
distinguishing these from
forms which are not possible.
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GRAMMATICAL DESCRIPTION

1. Structural (formal)
description
Example:
Account for the fact that “He
advised me to give up
smoking” is correct but “He
advised me giving up
smoking” is not.
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GRAMMATICAL DESCRIPTION

•2. Functional description :


•Concerned more with the
different meaning that is
conveyed in using one
grammatical form rather
than another.
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GRAMMATICAL DESCRIPTION

•2. Functional description


•Example:
•Account for the distinction
implied in the use of one
verb tense over another, as
in ‘Jemma is learning to
drive’ and “Jemma has
learnt to drive.”
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DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR
• Structure of a language actually
used by speakers and writers.
• Describe how people use spoken
and written language and the
knowledge they use to decide
whether something is
grammatically correct
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DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR
• Speakers of a language know its
grammar.
• That makes it possible to communicate
through that particular language.
• Linguists attempt to describe the
common parts of the grammar which is
the model of the speakers’ linguistic
capacity
• it describes the basic linguistic
knowledge.
• (Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams, 2011).
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DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR
• This basic linguistic knowledge
includes the sounds, words, phrases,
and sentences of a particular
language as well as how one speaks,
understands and makes judgements
about the ‘well-formness’
• (Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams, 2011).

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DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR
• Present a snapshot of actual
patterns of use at a particular time
• Describe grammar in 4 main
registers or varieties: conversation,
written fictions, newspaper and
academic texts
• (Hewings, A. & Hewings, M. 2005, p.11)).

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PRESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR
• A set of rules and examples
dealing with the syntax and
word structures of a language.
• Intended as an aid to learning
of that language
• Prescriptive grammarians:
editors and teachers
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PRESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR

• a set of regulation that are


based on what is evaluated as
correct or incorrect in the
standard language.

• (Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams, 2011,


p295)
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PRESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR

• Authors of prescriptive grammars


: set themselves as the arbiters of
correctness and on the basis of
their judgement tell readers how
language should be used.

• (Hewings A. & Hewings M. 2005, p. 9)


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PRESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR

• Robert Lowth
• First published ‘A Short History
of English Grammar’ in 1762
• (Hewings A. & Hewings M. 2005, p. 9)

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PRESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR

• Notion of ‘correctness’
• People disagree about what is
correct and because
language changes over time,
so does grammatical usage.
• (Hewings A. & Hewings M. 2005, p. 10)

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PRESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR

• Notion of ‘correctness’
• Time is the ultimate authority of
‘correctness’.
• Once a usage becomes
prevalent, it must be, and is,
accepted as the correct one
• (Niloofar Haeri in Hewings A. & Hewings
M. 2005, p. 11)
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PRESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR
• no one set of rules that could be
considered ‘authoritative’.
Instead, self-appointed
authorities come up with varying
judgement concerning
acceptability and approriateness
but there are often disagreement.

• (Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams, 2011,


p295)
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PRESCRIPTIVE VS
DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR

• the goal of prescriptive


grammar is different from
descriptive grammar in that it
tells people what rules they
should follow instead of
describing the rules people
know.
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DISCUSS
•Grammar in second
language is not learnt
without overt grammar
instructions as the first
language does because the
second language is learnt,
not acquired
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PRESCRIPTIVE VS
DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR
• Prescriptive grammar: codifies and
enforces rules governing grammar,
mechanics, and usage.
• Descriptive grammar: observes and
records how language is used in
function, and advocates teaching
the function of grammatical
structure.
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Covert Approach / Inductive
Approach
• learners are required to find the
hidden grammatical rules or discover
them as they learn the target

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language.
• Examples are studied before learners
derive the rules.
Covert Approach / Inductive
Approach
• Subconsciously learners have to
work with the target language to
absorb grammatical information

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that will facilitate language
learning.
Covert Approach / Inductive
Approach
• Example:
• After students read text, ask them
to find examples of different past

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tenses and say how and why they
are used.
• Sequence:
• Engage activate study
Covert Approach / Inductive
Approach
• Example:
• Understanding how speakers in
informal conversation use certain

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phrases as delaying tactics (buy
thinking time)
• Listen and find language used
(hoping they will identify phrase
like: you know, I mean, yeah, mmm)
Covert Approach / Inductive
Approach
• Example:
• Find out how certain words
collocate instead of telling them

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about words and their collocation
• Students do work rather than
having everything handed to them
by teacher or grammar book
Covert Approach / Inductive
Approach
• Students make some cognitive effort
as they uncovered its pattern
• Not all students comfortable with this

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approach
• Depend on their level
• Generally easier for more advanced
student to analyse language using
discovery procedures than it is for
complete beginners.
Covert Approach / Inductive
Approach
• Suitable for students who have
already have certain amount of
language available to them for the

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1st activation stage
• Useful when student are looking at
construction of specific language
for 2nd or 3rd time.
Covert Approach / Inductive
Approach
• Example:
• Ask students to look at the use of
different past tenses in a story
• Work out how they are used and why

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• Assume students ‘know’ the individual
tenses
• Intended to expand their knowledge
and revise things they are already
familiar with
Advantages of this approach as suggested
by Thornbury (1999, p54) are as follow:
• (i) Rules learned are more
meaningful, memorable, and servicable
because they are more likely to fit in
learner’s existing cognitive structures.

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• (ii) There is greater cognitive depth in
the mental effort which will facilitate
retention of the rule learned.
• (iii) It is a learner-centred learning
process and learners are more attentive
and motivated.
Advantages of this approach as suggested
by Thornbury (1999, p54) are as follow:
• (iv) It is suitable for learners who are
inclined to pattern-recognition and
problem-solving abilities.

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• (v) Learners gets extra language
practice when the problem-solving is
done collaboratively.
• (vi) Learner autonomy and self-
reliance is encouraged since they
attempt to work things out themselves.
Disadvantages of this approach:
• (i) Learners may be misled into thinking
that the objective of language learning is
simply to work out the rules.
• (ii) Too much time may be spent on

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working out the rules instead of using the
rules for some productive purposes.
• (iii) Learners make the wrong hypothesis
about the rules or the rules may be too
narrow or too broad in their application.
Disadvantages of this approach:
• (iv) It puts a very high demand on teacher’s
planning as the data needed must be
selected and organised carefully to guide
learners to accurately inferred the rules.

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• (v) Some aspects of language such as
modality cannot be easily formulated.

• (vi) Some learners prefer to be told the rule


directly as they become frustrated trying to
figure out the rule themselves.
Overt/Deductive Approach

•Starts with presentation of a


rule and followed by examples
in which the rule is applied.

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•Rule-driven learning

•(Thornbury, 1999, p29)


Overt/Deductive Approach

•Students are given


explanations or grammar rules
and then based on these

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explanations or rules, they
make phrases and sentences
using the new language.
•(Harmer, 2007, p81)
Overt/Deductive Approach
•Associated with Grammar-
Translation: explanation in
mother tongue a grammar point
•Practice activities follow :

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translating sentences out of and
into the target language
•Teacher sufficiently proficient in
the mother tongue and target
language.
Overt/Deductive Approach
• Example:
• Elementary students are going to focus on
present continuous tense:
• i. T starts by showing them pictures of

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people doing certain actions
• Ii. T models a sentence about one of the
pictures before using a series of devices to
draw student’s attention to the grammar
of the present continuous.
• T cues students with a prompt for students
to construct sentence of similar structure.
Overt/Deductive Approach
• Advantages :
• i. gets straight to the point; time-
saving. Many rules esp rules of form
can be more simply and quickly

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explained than elicited from examples.
More time for practice and application.
• Ii. Respects intelligence and maturity of
many- esp adult and acknowledge the
role of cognitive process in language
acquisition
Overt/Deductive Approach
•Advantages :
•iii. Confirms many students’
expectations about classroom
learning, particularly for learners

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who have an analytical learning
style.
•iv. Allow T to deal with language
points as they come up, rather than
having to anticipate them and
prepare for them in advance.
Overt/Deductive Approach
• Disdvantages :
• i. students may not have sufficient
metalanguage *language used to talk
about language such as grammar

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terminology: young students
• ii. Grammar explanations encourages a
teacher-fronted, transmission-style
classroom. Teacher explanation often
at the expense of student involvement
and interaction.
Overt/Deductive Approach
•Disdvantages :
•iii. Explanation is seldom as
memorable as other forms of

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presentation such as
demonstration
•iv. Encourges the belief that
learning a language is simple a
case of knowing the rules.
Overt/Deductive Approach

•It is often easier to establish a


language rule in students’
minds by contrasting two

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forms that are different in
only one respect: minimal
grammar pairs
Overt/Deductive Approach
•minimal grammar pairs
•Active and passive sentences
•A man bit a dog.

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•A dog was bitten by a man.
•Direct and reported speech
•He said, ‘I am hungry.’
•He said he was hungry.
Overt/Deductive Approach

•minimal grammar pairs


•Two aspects of same tense
•I read a book last night.

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•I was reading a book last
night.
Overt/Deductive Approach
• More appropriate for adult learners
whose learning style and expectations
predispose them to more analytical
and reflective approach to language
learning

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• Not suitable for learners who prefer to
learn through experience of
communicating
• Inappropriate for very young learners:
abstract grammatical concepts such as
subject, object and even verb are
beyond their grasp.
Factors to consider when determining
Appropriacy in terms of Approaches
•1. age of learners
•2. level of proficiency
•3. size of group

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•4. constitution of the group e.g.
monolingual or multilingual
•5. what their needs are
•E.g pass a public examination
Factors to consider when determining
Appropriacy in terms of Approaches
•6. learners’ interests
•7. avaible materials and
resources

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•8. learners’ previous learning
experience and hence present
expectations
Factors to consider when determining
Appropriacy in terms of Approaches
•9. any cultural factors that
might affect attitudes:
perception of the role and

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status of teacher
•10. educational context:
private school or state school,
at home or abroad.
GRAMMAR IN ISOLATION
The main focus of the
language teacher is on
grammar rules and forms.
The forms and rules are first
explained and then learners
are drilled on them.
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GRAMMAR IN ISOLATION
Learners given isolated
sentences: they are expected
to internalize through exercises
involving repetition,
manipulation and grammatical
transformation

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GRAMMAR IN ISOLATION
Teach by telling and
learning by memorizing,
labelling and regurgitation
facts.

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GRAMMAR IN ISOLATION
Example:
Finding errors in sentences that
have been taken out of their
original context

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GRAMMAR IN ISOLATION
Theresult is learners who are
capable of producing correct
forms on exercise and tests but
they consistently make errors
when using language in
context.
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Grammar in Context
Language and context are related:
use different language to achieve
similar purposes in different context
E.g:
Borrowing money
(i) from a friend
(ii) from your parents
(iii) from a bank
(Hewings A. & Hewings M.,2005, p17)
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Grammar in Context
 Help learners see that effective
communication involves functional
interpretation and formal appropriacy.
 Give learners tasks that dramatise the
relationship between grammatical items
and the discoursal contexts in which they
occur. (when and how it is
communicative appropriate to use
passive rather than the active voice: to
place communicative focus on the
action rather than the performer of the
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action )
Grammar in Context
Supplement form-focused exercise
with an approach that dramatizes for
learners the fact that different forms
enable them to express different
meanings
Grammar allows them to make
meanings of increasingly sophisticated
kinds (achieve communicative ends
through appropriate deployment of
grammatical resources) Prepared by Tan Siew Poh
Grammar in Context
Learn to use grammar to get
things done, socialize, obtain
goods and services and
express their personality
through language

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Grammar in Context
Nunan suggested:
- teach language as a set of choices
- provide opportunities for learners to
explore grammatical and discoursal
relationships in authentic data
- teach language in ways that make
form/function relationships transparent
- Encourage learners to become active
explorers of language
-encourage learners to explore
relationships between grammar and
discourse
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Grammar in Context
Language and context are related: the
same language can have different
meanings in different contexts;
“Can you move your leg?”
(i) fallen off a bike and landed
awkwardly: assessment of injuries
(ii) sitting with legs outstretched

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Grammar in Context
Language and context are related:
can sometimes infer a great deal
about the context from which a stretch
of language is taken out.
A. Fifteen - love
B. First check the contents to make
sure that nothing is missing.
C. This town ain’t big enough for the
both of us
D. The hour was late. Prepared by Tan Siew Poh
TUTORIAL
 Select a minimum of 2
articles related to issues in
grammar teaching
 Analyse and present your
finds (round robin
techniques)

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ISL
 List
the strengths and
weaknesses of each of the
approaches in the teaching of
grammar.

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REFERENCE)
• Celce-Murcia, M. (Ed.). (2001). Teaching
English as a second or foreign language. 3rd Ed.
Singapore: Cengage Learning.
• Harmer, J. (2007). How to teach english. 3rd Ed.
Essex: Pearson Education .
• Ur, P. (2001) A course in language teaching.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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REFERENCE)
• Celce-Murcia, M. (Ed.). (2001). Teaching
English as a second or foreign language. 3rd Ed.
Singapore: Cengage Learning.
• Nesamalar Chitravelu et al. (2005). ELT
Methodology: Principles and Practice. 2nd Ed.
Selangor: Laser Press Sdn. Bhd.
• Ur, P. (2001) A course in language teaching.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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