Second Language Learning and Language Teaching Website

Main Contents menu    Vivian Cook    SLA Topics index    SLABIB

Summaries Chapter Two

To print out this webpage click PRINT

 

Types of grammar

Grammar can be:  
1.
a way of telling people what they ought to say, rather than reporting what they do say (prescriptive grammar)  
2.
a system for describing sentence structure used in English schools for centuries based on grammars of classical languages such as Latin (traditional grammar)
3. a system for describing sentences based on the idea of smaller structures built up into larger structures (structural grammar)  
4.
the knowledge of the structural regularities of language in the minds of speakers (linguistic/grammatical competence)  
5.
EFL grammar combining elements of (2) and (3)

 

 

 

Content words

Structure words

- are in the dictionary: ‘book’

- are in the grammar: ‘the’

- exist in large numbers, 615,000 in the Oxford English Dictionary

- are limited in number, say 220 in English  

- vary in frequency: ‘book’ versus ‘honved’

- are high frequency: ‘to’, ‘the’, ‘I’

- are used more in written language

- are used more in spoken language

- are more likely to be preceded by a pause in speech

- are less likely to be preceded by a pause in speech  

- consist of Nouns ‘glass’, Verbs ‘move’, Adjectives ‘glossy’ etc

- consist of Prepositions ‘to’, Articles ‘a’, Pronouns ‘he’ etc

- are always pronounced and spelled the same: ‘look’ /lUk/

- vary in pronunciation for emphasis etc: ‘have’ /hQv, hv, v, v/

- have a fixed stress or stresses; ‘pilot’

- are stressed for emphasis etc; ‘the’ /Di: ~ D‚/

- have more than two letters: ‘eye’, ‘Ann’

- can consist of one or two letters: ‘I’, ‘an’

- are pronounced with an initial voiceless ‘th’: ‘theory’ /T/

- are pronounced with an initial voiced ‘th’: ‘there’ /D/

- can always be invented: ‘cyberpunk'

- can seldom be invented, e.g. 'per'

 

 

Early Acquisition of Grammar

·  Content and structure words differ in many ways including how they are used in sentences and how they are pronounced

·  Grammatical morphemes (structure words and grammatical inflections) are learnt in a particular sequence in L2 acquisition

·   L2 learners acquire the same basic grammar regardless of the first and second languages involved.

 

L2 learning of principles and parameters grammar

·        L2 learners do not need to learn principles of Universal Grammar as they will use them automatically.

·        L2 learners need to acquire new parameter settings for parameters such as pro-drop, often starting from their first language.

·         All L2 learners can be looked at within the same overall framework of grammar as it applies to all languages.

 

 

  Alternative Ways of using L2 sequences in language teaching

·  Ignore the parts of grammar that have a particular L2 learning sequence, as the learner will follow these automatically anyway.

·   Follow the L2 learning order as closely as possible in the teaching.

·   Teach the last things in an L2 learning sequence first.

·    Ignore grammar altogether.

 

 

 

Grammar and Language Teaching 

·    Teachers have to be aware of the many ways in which grammar comes into language learning and use and the many types of grammar that exist in choosing which grammar to teach and how to teach it.

·     L2 learners go through distinct stages of acquisition, for reasons still only partially understood. Teaching can utilise the known facts about these stages in several ways.

·      Many aspects of grammar do not need to be taught as they are already present in the learner’s mind and need instead to be activated.

·     Conscious explanation of the L2 grammar is seen as beneficial in some circumstances, as is raising of language awareness.