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Chapter 5. Critical Perspective On The Role Of Grammar In Learning A Language (Language English For CTET & TET Exams)

Chapter 5. CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE ROLE OF GRAMMAR IN LEARNING A LANGUAGE

INTRODUCTION

In simple words, grammar is a system of rules that provides a proper order or sequence to sentences for better representation of ideas to facilitate meaningful communication. Grammar establishes a proper sequence within and in between sentences. In this sequence, the words are arranged according to the rules of grammar. So, we can say that grammar is a science that begins and ends with the observation and classification of linguistic phenomena.
According to Thomson and Wyatt, “Grammar presents the facts of language arranged under certain categories and deals only with what can be brought under general laws and stated in the form of general rules.” In the context of English Grammar, I.A. Gordon said, “If language is a vehicle of our thoughts and feelings, then grammar is the machine by which that vehicle is moving.” However, it is also true that students generally have a fear of English grammar. One of the major reasons for this could be the fact that grammar has been taught in a very traditional manner by the teachers. In recent years, there have been many researches in the study of English grammar. As a result, the traditional or formal style of grammar has been replaced by functional grammar. This new method of teaching English grammar focusses on helping the learners to communicate their ideas verbally as well as in written form, i.e., to speak and write the language correctly.
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TYPES OF GRAMMAR

1. Formal Grammar: This type of grammar is also known as theoretical grammar or perspective grammar. It is considered to be the old or traditional type of grammar. Its scope is narrow since it focuses only on the rules. This method is useful for the study of classical languages like Latin, Arabic and Sanskrit.
2. Functional Grammar: This type of grammar is also known as descriptive grammar. It focusses on the functional side of language. It describes the behaviour of language as it is used by its native speakers. It is taught using language items.
3. Scholarly Grammar: This type of grammar is useful to develop critical evaluation, bibliographical references of the work of predecessors and through documentation by citations from English literature.
4. Structural Grammar: It was founded by the famous educationist Prof. Fries, who was an American linguist. It focusses on the structure of sentences.
5. Transformational-Generative Grammar: This type of grammar is in the developing stage and may take an important place in future. According to it, sentences are divided into two parts – basic sentences and transformed sentences.

MERITS OF GRAMMAR

The primary merits of teaching grammar are as given below:
It develops various language skills in the learner.
► It gives the learner an insight into the structure of a language.
► It has to be taught by a teacher so that the learner can proceed from ‘concrete to abstract’.
It helps the learner to develop both logical and scientific attitudes towards language.
► It helps the learner to apply correct expressions and systematic knowledge of the language.
► It helps the learner in the process of mental development, which is associated with observation, reasoning and concentration.

DEMERITS OF GRAMMAR

The common demerits of teaching grammar are as given below:
It hinders the natural or spontaneous process of learning a foreign language.
► Its knowledge does not completely help the learner in speaking the language in a fluent manner.
► Grammar never lays down rules for the language to follow.
► By learning only the rules of grammar, one cannot perfect a language. It requires more and more drills and practice.

METHODS OF TEACHING GRAMMAR

1. Traditional Method of Teaching: It makes use of textbooks to teach grammatical rules. In this method, the teacher explains the rules with examples. After the explanation, the teacher gives practice exercises to students.
Merits Students learn the closest use of a rule for a particular condition.
By practice, students become more familiar with the rules of grammar.
Students become good examiners of grammatical rules.
Demerits This method focusses on rote learning.
Students do not take much interest during learning.
Teaching maxims, such as known to unknown, simple to complex and example to rule are not followed.
2. Inductive-Deductive Method of Teaching: In inductive method of teaching, a teacher first provides the examples of a topic and then explains the associated grammar rule to the students. On the other hand, in deductive method of teaching, a teacher starts with rules and provides the examples at the end of the topic.
Merits It is based on psychological principles.
Students take interest in class and are active.
This method stimulates the power of thinking, reasoning and assimilation in students.
Demerits This method is only applicable at an early age.
It is not complete in itself because, sometimes, students are unable to correlate examples with the topic.
As per Ballard, the famous educationist, “Language, whether native (L1) or foreign (L2), is better learnt through its use than its grammar, although the study of grammar leads to a greater accuracy in its use.”
3. Incidental Method of Teaching: This method of teaching is also known as correlation or reference method of teaching.
Merits Students gain a practical knowledge of grammatical rules.
This method helps students correlate grammar with other related logical structures. It makes a learner logical.
Demerits This method interferes with normal teaching.
There is lack of productive learning.
Sometimes, forming/creating an ‘incident’ related to a topic may be difficult for the teacher.
4. Informal Method of Teaching: This method focusses on teaching grammar only through its usage and not its rules.
Merits This method is more useful for beginners.
Learners may learn enough grammar to help them address their daily communication needs pertaining to language.
Demerits Grammar rules are not taught in this method.
Learners may not achieve perfection in grammar rules.
Learners may take more time to learn grammar.

AIMS OF TEACHING GRAMMAR

Some of the aims of teaching grammar are as given below:
To develop the mental abilities of the learner
► To develop the scientific attitude towards language
► To develop an insight into the structure of the language
► To develop the ability to understand and use the underlying principles of grammar

PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Answer the following questions by selecting the most appropriate option.
15. Scribbling is a stage of
(1) listening
(2) writing
(3) reading
(4) speaking
Ans: (2)
1. Which of the following helps in learning the second language without using the printed text?
(1) Natural approach
(2) Language immersion
(3) Grammar-translation method
(4) Situational approach
Ans: (2)
2. A good teacher is the one who
(1) gives the useful information.
(2) explains concepts and principles.
(3) gives printed notes to students.
(4) gives them ample opportunities to learn.
Ans: (4)
3. ‘Critical reading’ requires learners to read
(1) for understanding the information directly in the text.
(2) to recognize ideas and information not directly stated.
(3) in a manner that requires judgements about the accuracy of the text and validity of conclusions drawn.
(4) for the generation of new and more relevant ideas, and proposing alternative ideas.
Ans: (3)
4. Reading between the lines as a sub-skill of reading mainly involves
(1) giving sufficient space between lines
(2) inferring the unstated using the contextual and verbal clues
(3) identifying the grammatical item
(4) understanding the stated facts
Ans: (2)
5. Children’s oral language development forms an important foundation for learning literacy. Which of the following classroom practices enables oral language development?
(1) Chorus reading of a story in the textbook along with the teacher.
(2) Practising the correct pronunciation of words in a chorus.
(3) Participating in role-plays on favourite stories.
(4) Memorising and reciting poems individually or in a chorus.
Ans: (3)
6. ‘Awareness raising’ grammar games encourage students to
(1) think consciously about the structures they have learnt.
(2) collaborate in completing a given activity.
(3) engage and feel about human relationships while the teacher controls the structures.
(4) use learnt structures to communicate with one another about a given theme.
Ans: (3)
7. ‘To live a life half-dead, a living death’ is a statement which uses a literary device called
(1) transferred epithet
(2) oxymoron
(3) metaphor
(4) personification
Ans: (2)
8. Regression is a
(1) reading problem
(2) psychological problem
(3) neurological problem
(4) physical problem
Ans: (1)
9. Some students make mistakes while playing a grammar game. The teacher should
(1) call aside the erring student and offer some guidance.
(2) call aside the student in-charge of the group and instruct him/her to guide the erring student.
(3) quietly note down the mistakes and hold a remedial class for the erring students.
(4) quietly note down the mistakes and discuss them with the class after the activity.
Ans: (3)
10. When the relationship between two successive sentences is in terms of time, the relationship is______.
(1) temporal
(2) causative
(3) additive
(4) appositive
Ans: (1)
11. Students of Class IV can recognise flawed usage or sentence construction when the teacher
(1) tells them something wrong.
(2) gives alternatives as possible corrections.
(3) lets them find the corrections.
(4) focusses on certain surface errors.
Ans: (2)
12. How does the mother tongue help in the development of a child?
(1) Mentally, biologically
(2) Philosophically, socially
(3) Mentally, emotionally
(4) Emotionally, biologically
Ans: (3)
13. The spoken skills in a language teaching classroom can be developed through
(1) engaging in small talk as confident aggressive learners.
(2) emotionally connecting with learners.
(3) enabling activities with a focus on conversation skills leading to communicative competence.
(4) group activities where learners can talk in whichever language they would like to.
Ans: (3)
14. Grammar should be taught by
(1) asking students to learn rules.
(2) making learners do written assignments.
(3) giving clear explanations.
(4) enabling practice in context.
Ans: (2)
15. A child studying in Class-III says: “I dranked the water.” It indicates that the child
(1) has not learnt grammar rules properly.
(2) should memorise the correct sentence.
(3) has over-generalised the rule for making past tense verbs, showing that learning is taking place.
(4) is careless and needs to be told that she should be conscious of such errors.
Ans: (3)
16. Which is a function word?
(1) However
(2) Booking
(3) Principal
(4) Someone
Ans: (1)
17. Strut, stride and trudge are words that describe a manner of ______.
(1) galloping
(2) running
(3) riding
(4) walking
Ans: (4)
18. The documents have been downloaded by the students.
The students have downloaded the documents.
The two given statements can be differentiated by drawing students’ attention to the
(1) use of ‘by’ in the passive form.
(2) differences in the arrangement of words.
(3) roles of the subject and object in both sentences.
(4) change in the verb forms.
Ans: (3)
19. ‘By far, the grammar issue I am most consistently challenged by is the dreaded dangling modifier. I’m not sure why, but this is an error I make with alarming regularity. I’ve learned to catch them, but I’m certain some manage to sneak through in my corrections.’ Which sentence has this error?
(1) Hoping to excuse my lateness, I wrote a note and gave it to my teacher.
(2) After reading the new book, Sara thought the movie based on it will be exciting.
(3) Having finished the assignment, Rahul turned on the TV.
(4) Upon entering the doctor’s office, a skeleton approached me.
Ans: (4)
20. The principle of discovery implies that in a grammar class, students
(1) engage in activities that require them to think about collaborating.
(2) formulate certain rules by working through a number of examples.
(3) think consciously of grammar rules while completing an activity.
(4) are facilitated by the teacher to avoid grammatical errors.
Ans: (2)
21. When teaching the pronunciation of the word ‘penchant’, you would
(1) encourage students to use an ‘English’ word as an option.
(2) find its meaning and give it to your class.
(3) use a pronunciation dictionary and say the word for the class to listen.
(4) draw students attention to the fact that it is a French word.
Ans: (1)
22. A ‘critical period’ during language learning is
(1) the period during which language can be acquired with greater ease than any other time.
(2) the length of time before a comprehensive assessment takes place in class.
(3) best preparatory period for any language project.
(4) special time set aside for students to intensively practise language use.
Ans: (1)
23. The two skills required to take notes effectively are
(1) using symbols and abbreviations instead of words.
(2) re-writing a text, using your own words.
(3) writing legibly with correct punctuation.
(4) writing fluently, using conjunctions.
Ans: (1)
24. What is wrong with the following multiple choice question?
Tick the most appropriate:
The Metro theatre is located ________ Lodhi Road.
(a) over
(b) at
(c) beside
(d) behind
(1) All answers are wrong.
(2) Two are wrong.
(3) The statement is not correctly framed.
(4) ‘Over’ is the correct answer.
Ans: (1)

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