Why foreign language teachers have to rethink their approach to grammar instruction

The Language Gym

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In one of my latest posts I made some recommendations as to how grammar instruction should be implemented. One particular point made in that post seems to have resonated the most with my readers:

Never say ‘my students have learnt structure ‘X’ effectively’ unless you have evidence that they can perform it accurately under Real Operating Conditions.

What this statement alludes to is a common misconception amongst many L2 teachers that a given grammar rule has indeed been acquired by their learners if these can articulate it and/or apply it accurately in the context of gap-fill exercises, multiple choice quizzes, translations or written pieces. This assumption leads to a misguided approach to grammar teaching, i.e. one that:

  • Teaches grammar through means which merely impart intellectual knowledge, i.e. how the target grammar rule works (e.g. verb formation, contexts in which structure ‘X’ should be used and not…

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