Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Issues in Learning and Teaching Grammar" - Reading Journal

The misconceptions section of “Issues in Learning and Teaching Grammar” are interesting, but hard to implement I believe. The first misconception (That’s the way I learned….) misses what I believe to be an important point: not only do teachers instruct in the way that they learned because they think it works but also because that is the way they know how to teach. The section underestimates how well teachers understand the impact of outside experiences. Misconception 2 (Drills are effective tolls for learning grammar) also over-estimates the uselessness of drills. For the most part, I agree, drills become busy work and students can very easily fill in answers without actually understanding what is going on. However, for some students, myself included, drills are effective ways to learn a new grammar method, or to review an old one. If the student makes an honest effort to use the drill to practice and check understanding, they can be effective. They are over-used and learning grammar through communication obviously is more beneficial, however I believe that, for certain students at least, drills have their place. Misconception 3 (Explicit Explanation is necessary) falls under the same argument. Without an environment in which students can be immersed in the language, it would take far too long for students’ natural language acquisition to kick in. Explicit explanation speeds up the process for the sort of environment we have developed for our foreign language students. On the other hand, there are certain rules which are far too complicated to explain; words such as doch, eigentlich, and other flavoring words. The final two Misconceptions I agree with much more fully. The first language is most certainly not the source of all errors and paradigms are not key to acquisition. Language acquisition involves error and those errors will be the same sort of errors one made when learning one’s own native language. Language development is the same across cultures and tongues so error comes from learning language not from the native language.

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