What is the grammar? The body of rules which underlie a language is called its grammar. Grammar includes rules which govern the structure of words and rules which govern the structure of words to form clauses and sentences that are acceptable to educated native speakers.
Most teachers see grammar as a body of knowledge that they themselves need as professional linguists, knowledge they can use judiciously to help learners gain insights into the workings of the language.
Some teachers see no need to teach and practice grammar at all. Some even regard structure practice and other forms of grammar teaching as harmful. Their view is that learners will pick up the regularities intuitively, provided they meet enough samples of natural language. The teacher’s role, as they see it, is to provide a language- rich environment in which the learners meet comprehensible language as they engage in activities of various kinds.
The deductive method.
The deductive method of teaching grammar is the academic and scholarly one which was devised in order to teach Latin and Greek. The approach is very simple. First, the teacher writes an example on the board or draws attention to example in the textbook. The underlying rule is explained, nearly always in the mother tongue and using the metalanguage of grammar. Finally, the students practice applying the rule, orally and in writing. Special attention is paid to areas of conflict between the grammar of the mother tongue and that of the target language. The whole approach is cognitive, with learners considering the rules and weighing their words before they speak or write. Little attention is paid to the value of the message.
Those steps are used by teachers who follow a grammar- translation method and by those who are working with a textbook which has a traditional grammar syllabus rather than a structural one. Varieties of grammar — focused approaches still flourish in certain educational circles, and they are successful when used with selected and motivated students. We must also remember that language examinations are mainly written, with accuracy as the criterion of success, so many teachers make increasing use of the deductive approach as examinations loom closer.
The inductive method.
To induce means to bring about, to cause something to happen. Teachers following the inductive approach induce the learners to realize grammar rules without any form of prior explanation. These teachers believe that the rules will become evident if learners are given enough appropriate examples. When teaching a grammar point, their first step is to demonstrate the meaning to the class. For example, they will hold up a book, saying This is abook. They will do the same showing other objects. Then they will hold up several books and say These are books. After giving several examples of the plural form they will contrast the two forms. Their next step is to get the students two produce the two grammatical forms, working with the same set of objects. The teacher says nothing through this stage except two correct if necessary. Other objects the students can name will then be brought into the practice. With luck they will follow the models and produce grammatically correct utterances. The grammar point is shown on the board only after extensive practice. Explanation are not always made, though they may be elicited from the students themselves. In such cases, the mother tongue might well be used. The model is copied and the class may be required to write sample sentences from the model.
The eclectic way.
Both methods above offer advantages. The deductive method is quick and easy for the teacher. Where a difficult grammar point has to be presented, and perhaps explained because the concept is not one that is in the mother tongue, this is probably the better way. Where time is short, it is useful, even for a simple grammar point. Many learners, especially older ones, prefer the deductive approach because they want to know how the language works.
The deductive method requires the students to identify the rule for themselves. It has the advantage of involving the students much more. The belief is that such learning will be more effective, though there is no certainty about this. This is probably the better approach for grammatical regularities which are easily perceived, understood, and applied. Eclectic teachers will use all three of these strategies at various times. This will make it easier to fit the lesson into the time available, as well as enabling them to suit the differing needs and learning styles of the students. Grammar points which do not appear very useful are best avoided. Just draw attention to their presence in the text and move on, having raised the students awareness of the feature. If you do choose to teach a grammar point, use either the deductive or the inductive method, depending on the circumstances. When you yourself are talking, do not be afraid to use grammar forms that the students have not met. Provided the context makes the meaning clear, you are giving them valuable exposure and real life practice in decoding utterances which contain forms they do not know. Teachers need to know terminology in order to find helpful pages in reference book, but school children do not need to know words like auxiliary, preterit, reflexive pronoun and gerund in order to speak fluently. Teachers who use unnecessary terminology will appear pedantic, and most of it will be utter nonsense to the students anyway.
- Улуханов И. С. Мотивация в словообразовательной системе русского языка. М., 2005. A Dictionary of European Anglicisms: A Usage Dictionary of Anglicisms in Sixteen European Languages / ed. by Manfred Gorlach. Oxford, 2005.
- Казак Ю. М. Интегративный подход к описанию словообразовательного гнезда // Вестн. Волгоград. гос. ун-та. Сер. Филология. Журналистика. 2004. № 2. С. 54–61.