Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Is Grammar teaching really useless?

Every week, we read a good combination of composition theories and texts by philosophers, scientists and rhetoricians (mostly from Europe).  We were required to write a short response that could spark a meaningful discussion based on questions formulated by discussion leaders from the weekly reading.  One particular week included an essay about grammar teaching and the argument centering around the effectiveness of it.  I wrote the following as a response to the skeptic point of view about grammar teaching.

"The response from here does not quite fit in your great prompt, but there is a fundamental difference between ESL (me) and native speakers (the rest of you) in the understanding (or internalizing) of English grammar. Though this article does make reference to that point, I see it is written for the instructors of the mainstream composition classes. But if more and more teachers have to deal with foreign born students who don’t have the Grammar I (the knowledge native speakers are equipped with) competence, there is NO way one could learn the language correctly without the grammar terminologies, drills and dissecting each word in the instruction. In fact, that is the only way I (or any foreign born with non-English education) could have ever learned. This article suggests that being exposed to a language spoken somehow could bring one to the natural grammatical understanding of the language. That IS NOT TRUE as long as the language you are writing with was learned (Not acquired) after the critical period. I just hope that not teaching grammar will not become a “consensus,” otherwise foreign students will forever be oblivious to their own mistakes and feel inadequate. Although it may be true that the educational focus is being shifted to math and science, not being good at those subjects is not a stigma but it is for reading and writing. "

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