Future EFL Teachers’ Conceptions of Grammar Instruction


posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

Two days ago, I asked my students to briefly outline what they consider to be important in teaching grammar in a ‘communicative’ EFL classroom environment. One group of students created the following mind map:

(click on image to enlarge)

I think it is quite interesting to see that the students seem to be aware (perhaps not more than that) of some of the most intensively discussed problems associated with grammar instruction in communicative EFL classrooms, i.e.: CLT – approach or method?; acquisition-learning, competence-performance, contextualization, focus on meaning / form / forms, explicit-implicit and inductive-deductive learning, the necessity to integrate learners’ prior knowledge, introducing vs. practicing grammar, error correction, cultural implications of teaching grammar, etc.

However, as Larsen-Freeman (1997) pointed out many years ago, knowing/thinking and doing is not one and the same thing (and, furthermore, that this is an area crying for research).

This is why I regularly embed practice-oriented activities in my seminars; analyzing EFL textbooks used in the past and at present (to my mind, both is necessary and important); discussing examples of good practice documented on video (e.g. Siebold 2004), encouraging students to simulate sequences of grammar-oriented EFL lessons (including micro-teaching sessions, etc.). I also try to connect the seminar to the obligatory teaching practicum (if possible), etc.

Any comments or suggestions?

Larsen-Freeman, Diane (1997). “Chaos/Complexity Science and Second Language Acquisition”. Applied Linguistics, 18, 2, 141-156.

Siebold, Jörg (2004). Let’s Talk. Lehrtechniken. Berlin: Cornelsen (including DVD-videos).

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One response to “Future EFL Teachers’ Conceptions of Grammar Instruction

  1. I have given students Wittgenstein’s somewhat broader concept of grammar as describing in detail any established language use (normative or not), and asked teams of them to present any particular use they found interesting in a video of max 5 min. Most of them focussed on aspects of the “second orality” of language uses in the electronic media.
    The representation is the actual challenge to provoke “language awareness.” Students identify who does what where and exactly how?, i.e. they analyze the context of the use (generational, social, cultural), select the critical aspects that define the observed use (define possible rules), and discuss visual ways of communicating the observed use for a non-expert audience (i.e. their own students in the future). In one project they learned about how language works and what some of the aspects relevant in teaching language are.

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