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TSL3108 TEACHING OF GRAMMAR IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM

TOPIC 1
1.0 SYNOPSIS

INTRODUCTION TO GRAMMAR

Topic 1 provides input on the teaching of grammar in the Primary School. It also discusses the different meanings and definitions of grammar. In addition, it willo compare and contrast between fluency and accuracy, grammar for young learners and the place of grammar in the primary classroom.

1.1 LEARNING OUTCOMES By the end of Topic 1, you will be able to: Demonstrate an understanding of the meanings and definition of grammar. Demonstrate an understanding of an overview of Teaching of Grammar in the Primary School

1.2 FRAMEWORK OF TOPICS

CONTENT 1

TSL3108 TEACHING OF GRAMMAR IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM

SESSION ONE (3 Hours) 1.3 Introduction to grammar Grammar is central to the teaching and learning of languages. It is also one of the more difficult aspects of language to teach as well. Grammar is partly the study of what forms (or structures) are possible in a language, All language in use can be analysed at each of the four levels; sound, word, sentence and text. These rules tell the speakers how to pronounce syllables (phonology), how to form words (morphology), how to structure sentences (syntax) and what style of language to use in a given context (pragmatics). These are the forms that language takes. The study of grammar consists, in part, of looking at the way these forms are arranged and patterned. Thus a grammar is a description of the rules that govern how a languages sentences are formed. 1.3.1 Meanings and definition of grammar Grammar according to Rutheford (1987) is a necessary component of any language teaching programme (p.9), and thus plays an important role in language teaching. However, the focus on grammar in language teaching was challenged with the emergence of teaching methodologies based on different learning theories, Such a challenge influenced not only the content and the curriculum in language teaching, but also the implication for teaching grammar. Thus, a fresh look at grammar was necessary causing linguists and language educators to rethink the status of grammar in language teaching and learning. This led to a constant debate among language educators and linguists regarding the nature and type of grammar instruction, which affected the understanding of how second languages should be taught or learned. There are various definitions of grammar. Among them are; Grammar can be defined as a description of the structure of a language and the ways in which units such as words and phrases are combined to produce sentences in the language (Dictionary of Applied Linguistics) 2

TSL3108 TEACHING OF GRAMMAR IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM

Grammar is roughly defined as the way a language manipulates and combines words (or bits of words) in order to form longer units of meaning. ( Ur, 1994) Grammar is generally thought to be a set of rules specifying the correct ordering of words at the sentence level. (Nunan, 2003) Grammar is the system of rules governing the conventional arrangement and relationship of words in a sentence. (Brown, 2007) Grammar is a description of the rules that govern how a languages sentences are formed. (Thornbury, 2008)

From the various definitions of grammar we can deduce that grammar is partly the study of what forms are possible. Basically, a language consists words and sounds (when spoken). This can be analysed at each of the four levels; text, sentence, word and sound. These are the forms that they take. A study of grammar looks at the way these forms are arranged and patterned. Look at the following example: This is 0153456789. We are not at home right now. Please leave a message after the beep. If you change the order of the sentences you no longer have a well-formed answerphone message. For example: Please leave a message after the beep. This is 0153456789. We are not home right now. Likewise at the sentence level, there is a fairly fixed order of words that form a sentence. Beep after a leave the please message. At the word level; peeb Grammar explains why the following sentences are acceptable: 3

TSL3108 TEACHING OF GRAMMAR IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM

We are not at home right now. Right now we ar not at home. The system of rules that cover the order of words in a sentence is called syntax. Syntax rules disallow; Not we at right home now are. The system of rules that cover the formation of words is called morphology. Morphology rules disallow; We is not at home right now. (Adapted from Thornbury, 2012) Grammar is conventionally seen as the study of the syntax and morphology of sentences. The ability to recognise and produce well-formed sentences is an essential part of learning a second language. However, in certain situation a sentence may not make sense if only the form is correct, but it does not convey meaning. Take the following example; This is 0153456789. We are at home right now. Please leave a message after the beep Grammar communicates meanings meanings of a very precise kind. Principally, grammar convey two kinds of meanings: representation that is, grammar enables us to use language to describe the world in terms of how, when and where things happen, and interpersonal that is, grammar facilitates the way we interact with other people when, for example, we need to get things done using language. 1.3.2 Fluency versus Accuracy The aim of the communicative approach is to get students to use language to communicate efficiently and to seek information, give information, solve a problem etc. A classroom activity may aim either at accuracy or fluency, a distinction first made by Brumfit (1984). An accuracy-oriented activity such as pattern drills is usually used in the teaching of a new target item; A fluency-oriented activity such as extensive reading and information gap aims to develop the students' spontaneous communications skills in using what they have already learned. 4

TSL3108 TEACHING OF GRAMMAR IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM

Accuracy activities: Purpose: the primary purpose is to help students achieve accurate perception and production of a target item which can be a sound, a word, or a sentence structure. Material: the texts are usually composed of separate items; the target items are usually practised out of context or situation; Activities: students' attention is focused on a particular target item; their output is usually predictable; their performance is assessed on how few language mistakes are made; students' errors are corrected; tasks do not usually simulate real-life situations. ISSUE: do you teach accuracy or fluency first? Accuracy To achieve accuracy Advantage: produce students who can reproduce accurately sentences learnt Disadvantage: May not be effective in communicating the language in real life situations. Purpose: the primary purpose is to help students practice language in Lisstening, Speaking, Reading and Writing activities to so develop fluency in using the language in spontaneous communication. Material: the texts are usually whole pieces of discourses: conversation, stories, etc.; texts are usually authentic and used as they would be in real life. Activities: students' attention is focused on communicating information and expressing ideas; their output may not always be predictable; their performance is assessed on how well ideas are expressed or understood; students' errors are not corrected unless it interferes with communication; tasks often simulate real-life situations. 1.3.3 Grammar for Young Learners The age of our students is a major factor in our decisions about how and what to teach. People of different ages have different needs, competences and cognitive skills (Harmer, 2005). ways; Harmer (2005) further explains that young learners learn differently from older children, adolescents and adults among others in the following

TSL3108 TEACHING OF GRAMMAR IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM

They respond to meaning even if they do not understand individual words. They often learn indirectly rather than directly taking every information around them rather than focussing on the precise topic being taught Their understanding comes from explanation as well as from what they see and hear and interact with. They find abstract concepts such as grammar rules difficult to grasp They have a limited attention span; unless activities are extremely engaging, they can get easily bored, losing interest after ten minutes or so.

In relation to the teaching of grammar for young learners, explicit grammar teaching is more effective at the intermediate to advanced levels than beginning levels (Brown, 2007). This is because incidental focus on form is valuable as it treats errors that occur while learners are engaged in meaningful communication. This corrective feedback can facilitate acquisition if it involves a mixture of implicit and explicit feedback. 1.3.4 The place of grammar in the Primary classroom (a) The KBSR syllabus

As stipulated in the curriculum spesifications for the primary school, the English Language lesson aims to equip pupils with skills and provide a basic undrstanding of the English language so that they are able to communicate, both orally and in writing, in and out of school.

TSL3108 TEACHING OF GRAMMAR IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM

Objectives of the KBSR Syllabus i) ii) iii) iv) v) listen to and understand simple spoken English to be able to function in common everyday situations; speak and respond clearly and appropriately in common everyday situations using simple language; to read and understand different kinds of texts (from print and electronic sources) for enjoyment and information; write (including e-mail) for different purposes using simple language; and show an awareness and appreciation of moral values and love towards the nation. (b) The KSSR Syllabus Under the KSSR syllabus, primary education is divided into two stages, Stage One referring to Years 1, 2 and 3 and Stage Two, Year 4, 5 and 6. In Year 1 and 2, the English language curriculum emphasises on the pupils development of basic language skills in building the proficiency in the language. introduced from Year 3 onwards. Grammar is only

KSSR ENGLISH
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TSL3108 TEACHING OF GRAMMAR IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM

KSSR States that: By the end of Year 6, pupils should be able to: use correct and appropriate rules of grammar in speech and writing. The following diagram shows the conceptual framework of the curriculum model. THE MODULAR CONFIGURATION

Objectives Of the KSSR By the end of Year 6, pupils should be able to: i) ii) communicate with peers and adults confidently and appropriately in formal and informal situations; read and comprehend a range of English texts for information and 8

TSL3108 TEACHING OF GRAMMAR IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM

enjoyment; iii) iv) v) write a range of texts using appropriate language, style and form through a variety of media; appreciate and demonstrate understanding of English language literary or creative works for enjoyment; and use correct and appropriate rules of grammar in speech and writing

CURRICULUM ORGANISATION The Standard-Based English Language Curriculum for Malaysian National Primary Schools (SK) is designed to provide pupils with a strong foundation in the English language. It is stipulated in the KSSR syllabus that teachers should use Standard British English as a reference and model for teaching the language. It should be used as a reference for spelling and grammar as well as pronunciation for standardisation.