Why teach grammar

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WHY TEACH GR AMMAR? Since so little is known about how languages are acquired, this dissertation will try to avoid taking a deep-rooted position on the issue. Rather, by sifting the arguments for andagainst, it is hoped that addressees will be in a better position to make up their own minds. There are many arguments for putting grammar in the foreground in second language teaching. Here are themost relevant. Grammarians hold that in the memorization of words and phrases, there is a limit in which one person can both, retain and retrieve. Therefore, there is a point where we need to learnsome patterns or rules to enable us to create new sentences. From this point of view, grammar is considered as a “sentence-making machine”, which offers to persons an inexhaustible linguistic source. Itis possible to communicate simply stringing words and phrases, but again, there is a point where “me Tarzan you Jane” – type language fails to deliver meaning. Teaching grammar works as a correctiveagainst this kind of ambiguity. There are highly motivated learners, with a particular aptitude for language, who can achieve good levels of proficiency without a formal study. Nevertheless, theyreach a language plateau beyond which it is difficult to advance; somehow their linguistic competence is fossilized. Researchers suggest that learners who receive some kind of grammatical instruction,which can be self-taught, are in less risk of fossilization. Grammar instructions might also have a delayed effect. It signifies that learners recall grammar instructions when listening or speaking, andthese tend to stick in their minds. To end with, defenders hold that, any language from outside can be seen as a gigantic and shapeless mass, which at first sight seems an insurmountable challenge forthe learner. However, by organizing the language in clear categories, grammar makes language something levelheaded. Hitherto you have heard some points in the mainstream of grammar teaching,...
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