Ellis's Q2: What grammar should we teach?
(2) What grammar should we teach?
This question can be broken down into two separate questions:
1. What kind of grammar should we base teaching on?
2. Which grammar features should we teach?
grammatical models: structural grammars, generative grammars (based on a theory of universal grammar), functional grammars (p.86)
Modern syllabuses give more attention to the functions performed by grammatical forms. Less empahsis is placed on such aspects of grammar as sentence patterns or tense paradigms and more on the meanings conveyed by different grammatical forms in communication. (p.86)
Grammar Book (by Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman, 1999) is a valuable resource of grammar. It identifies the kinds of errors that L2 learners are known to make with different grammatical structures. (p.87)
VanPatten, Williams, and Rott (2004) emphasize that establishing connections between form and meaning is a fundamental aspect of langauge acquisition. (p.87)
Which type of grammar to use as a basis for teaching is not a major source of controversy (descriptive grammar??); the choice of which grammatical structures to teach is controversial. (p.87) --> two ploar positions:
A. Krashen's minimalist position: Grammar teaching should be limited to a few simple and portable rules such as 3rd person -s and past tense -ed that can be used to monitor output from the acquired system. (p.87)
There is now ample evidence that many learners are capable of mastering a wide range of explicit grammar rules (Green & Hecht, 1992).
B. Course book writers such as Walter & Swan (1990), Murphy (1994): comprehensive position (Ellis's term)
Such a position would also seem unwarranted because learners are clearly capable of learning a substantial amount of the L2 grammar without instruction and because most teaching contexts have limited time available for teaching grammar so some selection is needed. (p.88)
1. The selection of grmmar teaching should be based on the inherent learning difficulty of different grammatical structures. (p.88) First, we should distinguish two different senses of learning difficulty.
A. the difficulty learners have in understanding a grammatical feature
B. the difficulty they have in internalizing a grammatical feature so that they are able to use it accurately in communication (p.88)
--> the distinction between learning grammar as explicit knowledge and as implicit knowledge
Most learners have no difficulty in grasping the rule for English third person -s but they have enormous difficulty in internalizing this structure so they can use it accurately. (speaking or writing??)