Grammar is the study of rules governing the use of language, and it includes the study of phonology, phonetics, morphology, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics. Understanding the rules and function of grammar is an integral part of good writing, but many students find the study of it to be boring and difficult. There are many ways to teach grammar to students that can fun and interesting. Many people, including language teachers, hear the word “grammar” and think of a fixed set of word forms and rules of usage.
They associate “good” grammar with the prestige forms of the language, such as those used in writing and in formal oral presentations, and “bad” or “no” grammar with the language used in everyday conversation or used by speakers of no prestige forms. The simple truth is, that without and understanding of grammar we would not know how to write and speak English. Certainly, most native speakers couldn’t tell you if they are using the present perfect tense or what conditional they are using.
This doesn’t mean that they don’t have an understanding of grammar, it means that they don’t know the technical terms for grammar. Even if you don’t know the names of the tenses you are using, native speakers use them whenever they communicate in English. So native speakers do have an understanding of English grammar, but most don’t know their present continuous tense from their present perfect. So we have established that native English speakers do use grammar, but only a few know the technical terms to apply to any given rule.
ESL learners are not native speakers and teaching ESL students should not be treated as if they are. So should we teach grammar to ESL students? Yes we should, but how much emphasis should be placed on teaching grammar. The average ESL student will want to learn English to be able to communicate with other English speaking people. Students who want to learn English should understand how to speak English. As it isn’t their native tongue, some grammar needs to be taught. The role of grammar instruction in an ESL context has been always a major issue for students and teachers alike.
Researchers have debated whether grammar should be taught in the classroom and students, for their part, have generally looked upon grammar instruction as a necessary evil at best. In teaching grammar, three areas have to be considered: grammar as rules, grammar as form, and grammar as resource. For many L2 learners, learning grammar often means learning the rules of grammar and having an intellectual knowledge of grammar. Teachers often believe that this will provide the generative basis on which learners can build their knowledge and will be able to use the language eventually.
For them, prescribed rules give a kind of security. A better approach is perhaps to see grammar as one of many resources that we have in language which helps us to communicate. We should see how grammar relates to what we want to say or write, and how we expect others to interpret what our language use and its focus. Since the 1970s, attention has shifted from ways of teaching grammar to ways of getting learners to communicate, but grammar has been seen to be a powerful undermining and demotivating force among L2 learners.
In terms of motivation and learner success with languages, grammar has been seen to be a problem and to stand in the way of helping learners to communicate fluently. The hard fact that most teachers face is that learners often find it difficult to make flexible use of the rules of grammar taught in the classroom. They may know the rules perfectly, but are incapable of applying them in their own use of the language. As Morelli (2003:33-34) has observed, “Grammar can be taught traditionally or contextually, but student perception should be considered by teachers in the decision-making process.
Students need to feel confident that educators have met their needs and educators should be willing to consider the attitudes and perceptions of students when making decisions about how to teach grammar. ” Teachers generally tend to believe that errors of form committed by ESL learners should be corrected even when communicative goals are intended. This need for correction of form even within a communicative context, either spoken or written, may arise from a concern for grammatical accuracy in students’ communicative output or for avoiding fossilization of errors in their interlanguage.
Communicative activities, whether written or spoken, pose great difficulties to students for learning grammar and improving grammatical accuracy, writing activities proving more challenging than spoken ones. It might be inferred that the teachers might have a serious concern about the lack of sufficient focus on form in purely communicative activities or tasks for developing students’ grammatical knowledge.
Practicing language as communication in real-life tasks might not give sufficient opportunities for students to improve their grammatical knowledge, students find difficult to improve the accuracy of their grammatical language within a totally communicative writing activity. It is, therefore, necessary to make a detailed study of such difficulties faced by teachers and students in specific contexts, take appropriate steps to overcome them, and adapt the method to suit the actual teaching and learning environment.
This is not to suggest ‘diluting’ a sound approach or method, but only to plan mediating or supplementary tasks to help learners tide over the difficulties. Our primary goal as second language teachers must be to create users or the language, not linguists. It escapes the aim of this article to describe how we can achieve this but basically we are going to name the main elements to consider to create “language users. ” In conclusion, teaching grammar is important but how much grammar is the question.
This depends on the level of students, their ages, and why they are learning grammar. Yes, grammar should be taught, but it has both advantages and disadvantages. Just don’t sacrifice one skill for another. For example, too much grammar at the detriment of listening is not good, similarly, too much listening to the detriment of other core skills is not good. As a teacher you need to know what is required for each and every student and apply your teaching as per necessary.