Teaching Grammar: an occasional series

This will be the first post in a series that will run periodically for (likely) quite some time to come. Every time that I think the “Grammar Question” has finally been laid to rest, it flairs up again at some conference or on some forum. I’ve decided to wade in, and will devote several posts over the next couple of months exploring this. This introductory post lays out the question and sets the stage for further posts in which I will explore the issues involved.

The simplified version of the Grammar Question is: Should grammar be taught in the ESL/EFL classroom?

Behind this simple question, however, is a whole host of assumptions about ESL students’ language goals, best practices in English language teaching, the nature of adult language acquisition, and what it means to “teach grammar” anyway. Many of the arguments about whether to teach grammar stem from people’s tacit assumptions about the question. Each ESL teacher assumes that the other is coming from the same point of view and background, when often that is not the case.

The challenge over the next several posts in this series will be to lay out my assumptions as clearly as possible and also to cite as much relevant research as possible. I will place one rule on any comments added to this series. Any time you want to use the phrase “research shows”, you must cite the specific studies you are basing your statement on.

Welcome to “Teaching Grammar”, I hope everyone will enjoy the series.


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