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Extended version prezi on systems of language: Grammatical system


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  • 1. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology IGrammatical system of language.Members: Daniel Gallardo Pedreros.Gerardo Valdivia Zavalla.Teacher: Roxanna Correa.Course: Methodology I.
  • 2. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology IPlotkin (1998) argued that “a language is a system, a functionallydetermined, structured aggregate of elements”. A language system has threesubsystems: the lexical subsystem; the grammatical subsystem; the phonicsubsystem. Each subsystem has its own structural organization and is based onthe appropriate essence used in building its elements. In this essay our focus willbe the grammatical system of the language. First of all, we have to define whatgrammar is. According to Plotkin (1998) the grammatical systems functions is toarrange words in order to express thoughts to communicate an idea. In the sameway, Brown (2007) added that grammar is “the system of rules governing theconventional arrangement and relationship of words in a sentence”. The Longmandictionary of contemporary English defines grammar as “the rules by which wordschange their forms and are combined into sentences”. Harmer (1991) stated that“grammar should be called the way in which words change themselves and grouptogether to make sentences”. In this essay the grammatical system of languagewill be explained according to Nunan’s Organic approach, the inductive anddeductive approach and their advantages and disadvantages, how grammarshould be presented and taught, the three-dimensional grammar framework whenteaching grammar and some advices and strategies to teach grammar.Nunan’s (1998) organic approach has five main points. The first is“teaching language as a set of choices”, this points allows students to determinewhich forms of the language they can use to give a piece of information according
  • 3. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology Ito what they wish to convey. The second “providing opportunities for learners toexplore grammatical and discoursal relationships in exercising with easy tasks, butalso to challenge students to complete tasks with "real world" grammar and knowhow this “real world” grammar works; the third main point that Nunan presents isthe idea of having a balanced diet of both types of texts. With this idea Nunanexpresses that it is important that the learners work with these two types of texts,the non-authentic and the authentic texts. Both are important and the learnersshould be able to choose which one they are going to use, but the ideal is that thelearner use it balanced and not one more than the other; the fourth point is that“teaching language in ways that make form and function relationships transparent”create pedagogical tasks in which learners structure and restructure their ownunderstanding of form, function and use relationships through inductive anddeductive tasks; the fifth is “encouraging learners to become active explorers oflanguage”, which means that teachers should encourage their students to beresponsible for their own learning, make them participate actively in the process oflearning grammar or a new content. Nunan (1998) suggests that this activeexploration should be characterized by an inductive approach of learning. So thelearning would be more profoundly stored and processed; the sixth is “encouraginglearners to explore relationships between grammar and discourse”, this pointemphasizes the link between grammar and discourse and that the grammaticalchoices that the learners do depend on the context and intention they want toobtain.
  • 4. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology INunan (1998) declared that the inductive approach should beencouraged on learners because the learning would be stored and processeddeeply. Goner, Phillips and Walters (1995) stated that in the inductive approach thestudents practice the language in context and they can realize the structure andgrammatical rules from the examples they were doing. As mentioned by Rivers andTemperley (1978), in the inductive approach the teacher encourages students toobtain the rules from the examples, so the teacher’s role is to provide meaningfulcontext to the students. On the other hand, Rivers ad Temperley (1978) proposedthat in the deductive approach the teacher presents the rules first, teacher dictatesthe rules; in consequence students learn and apply the rules after they haveworked with the rules. The teacher is the center of the class and responsible for theexplanation of the new information.Both, the deductive and inductive approaches have advantages anddisadvantages. Goner (1995) claimed that the deductive approach is lessappropriate for lower level language students, since it presents grammaticalstructures that are complex in form and meaning for younger learners. Theadvantages of the inductive approach are that students can focus on the use of thelanguage without being restrained by grammatical terminology and rules that canreduce fluency. The inductive approach increase participation and the practice ofthe target language inside the classroom. The inductive approach have hadsuccess world widely, although its disadvantage is that sometimes for studentsaccustomed to more traditional styles of learning might seem complicated at first.
  • 5. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology IGoner (1995) indicated that understanding the advantages and disadvantages ofboth approaches may help the teacher to vary and organize a lesson, in order tokeep classes motivating and interesting for the students.In addition, how to teach grammar, Harmer (1991) exposed somecharacteristics of a good presentation that will be mentioned: a good presentationshould be clear, there should not be any difficulties in understanding for learner; agood presentation should be efficient, so that students can use the new languageas they wish; a good presentation should be lively and interesting, the teachershould prepare lesson in order to maintain students interesting and engagedduring the whole presentation; a good presentation should be appropriate, theteacher should not put so much information, the information should be simple andbrief; moreover a good presentation should be productive, the teacher should allowstudents to make many sentences or questions with the new language, so they canpractice it as much as they want. On the same topic, Celce-Murcia and Hilles(1988) presented the following structure of a grammar lesson, consisting of fourparts: presentation. The grammar structure is introduced inductively or deductively.The teacher has to select the techniques and resources he or she is going to use,depending on their students level and needs; focused practice, the learnermanipulates the structure so he can know it properly. The aim of this is to learnhow to use the form; the teacher should be convinced that most of the students areable to use the form without mistakes, the teacher has to check the understandingof the students; communicative practice, the learner practices the structure being
  • 6. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology Ilearned. There are some tasks that might be useful to implement, such as:information gap, choice, feedback; Teaching feedback and correction, teacherhave to check if the learners understand what he or she taught and give them thecorrect feedback in order to encourage them and engage them to continue with thelearning process.The three-dimensional grammar framework when teaching grammar,teachers have to make sure that form, function and use are taught clearly. Thereare three dimensions of language that we must deal with: the form or structuresthemselves, their semantics or meaning, and the pragmatic conditions governingtheir use. The forms tell us how a particular grammar structure is constructed. Inthe semantics, we deal with what a grammar structure means. Note that bemeaning can be lexical (a dictionary definition) or it can be grammatical. Andpragmatics, Levinson (1983) suggested that pragmatics deals with aspects ofmeaning. Pragmatics is the study of the relations between language and contextthat are grammaticalized or determined in the structure of a language.There are many useful advices to take into account when teachinggrammar. One of those advices is that you should use brief and simpleexplanations; students could understand the ideas easily if you do it and yo don´twaste important time to continue with yor class; After that, another advice is to usethe mother tongue if you realize that the students are not understanding or cannotfollow the explanations in english; A third advice says thatyou could use charts andother visuals whenever possible to graphically represent grammatical relationships.
  • 7. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology IThis is important because sometimes grammar classes may be boring for somestudents and charts and other visuals couls help to motivate them topay attentionto the class and to understand clearly what you want them to learn; Another aviceis to ilustrate with clear, unambiguous examples, making it easier to learners tounderstand; A fifth advice is to take into account the different cognitive styles thatyour students may have. You must know that not all the students learn in the sameway, so you must be able to prepareyour lessons in order to help all the students tounderstant through their different ways of learning; Another advice is not to get tiedup in knots over so-called “exceptions” rules. When yo teach grammar it isimportant to teach the normal applications and then the exceptions if the are. Thisadvice is given because there are many teachers that tend to start teaching theexceptions and then the normal aplications making the students get confusedabout the idea you want to express; Finally, the lastadvice is that if you don´t knowhow to explain something, do not risk giving false information. As a teacher youcan forget something or just don´t know something. It is recommended to say thatyou don´t know it, or say that you will find it and answer the next class instead ofgiving false information.The National Capital Language Resource Center, Washington, DC(2003-2004) offered some strategies for Learning Grammar. The first is “relateknowledge needs to learning goals”, about this point is important to recognize theprocedural and declarative knowledge to identify which goals students want toachieve; the second “apply higher order thinking skills”, it is imperative to teach
  • 8. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology Istudents the way in which the language works, that would help them to create acritical thinking and compare the language they know with the one they arelearning about; the third is “provide plentiful and appropriate language input”, isimportant that students use procedural and declarative knowledge, since studentsmust be aware of the relationships that exist among use, meaning and form of thegrammatical rules; the forth strategy is “use predicting skills”, students shouldpredict according to the format of the text, this will allow them to anticipate theforms and structures they will encounter in a given task; and fifth “limitexpectations for drills”, mechanical drills can help students memorize forms andstructures, but they do not develop the ability to use grammar correctly in oral andwritten interactions, because these drills separate form from meaning and use.Communicative drills persuade students to connect form, meaning, and usebecause several correct answers are possible. In these communicative drills,students provide their own content.
  • 9. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology IConclusionTo conclude, Nunan (1998) suggested that grammar instruction wouldbe more effective in classrooms where: learners are exposed to authentic samplesof language. Tasks designed to make transparent the links between form,meaning, and use. Learners are given opportunities to develop their ownunderstandings of the grammatical principles of English by progressivelystructuring and restructuring the language through inductive learning. Learnersencounter target language items in an increasingly diverse and complex range oflinguistic and experiential environments. Balance between exercises that helplearners come to grips with grammatical forms, and tasks for exploring the use ofthose forms. Some grammatical structures may be acquired in a linear way, but themajority of structures are acquired in complex, non-linear ways. There areadvantages and disadvantages in the inductive and deductive approach and it isnecessary that the teacher make the right decision for student to achieve theirgoal. The teacher must make a balanced use of the inductive and deductiveapproach in order to make interesting and motivating the class. Harmer (1991) alsopresents advices to take into account like: a good presentation should be clear,and there should not be any difficulties in learning for the student. Harmer givesthose and more advices in order to guide the teacher to make the classesinteresting and motivating. If you are a teacher you must be aware about manythings at the time of prepare and make your classes. You must take into accountthe ways in which the students learn, and the ways of making the classes
  • 10. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology Iinteresting and motivating for the students. In this essay have been shown differentviews about the grammatical system and advices about how to teach grammar wehope will be useful to improve your grammar lesson planning and your classstaging.
  • 11. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology IReferencesBrown, D. (2007). Teaching by principles: an interactive approach to languagepedagogy. Longman.Goner, Phillips & Walters. 1995. Teaching practice handbook: Structures, grammarand function. Heinemann, 129-138.Harmer, J. (1991). The practice of English language teaching. London/New York.Harmer, J. (1987). Teaching and learning grammar. London: Longman.Larsen-Freeman, D. (1991). Teaching grammar. Teaching English as a second orforeign language, 2, 279-296.Levinson, S. C. (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Celce-Murcia, M., & Hilles, S. (1988). Techniques and Resources in TeachingGrammar. Teaching Techniques in English as a Second Language. NewYork: Oxford University Press.National Capital Language Resource Center, Washington, DC (n.d) Strategies forlearning grammar. The essentials of language teaching. Retrieved from:, W., & Temperley, M. (1978). A practical guide to the teaching of English asa second or foreign language. Oxford university press, 110.
  • 12. Universidad Católica de la Santísima concepciónEnglish pedagogyMethodology I