Teaching Grammar to EFL University Students

Essay, 2016

12 Pages




Chapter1: The Teaching of Grammar through the Inductive Approach
- What is Grammar Teaching?
- Grammar Acquisition and Context
- Language is Logical
- Grammatical Competence Vs Communicative Competence
- Language Input and communication

Chapter 2: How Grammar is taught to EFL University Students in Libya

Chapter 3: Some Suggested Implementations for EFL Classrooms

Reference List


There has been much debate in the last 20 years about the most effective way of acquiring grammatical structures of a second language. The so-called Inductive approach has benefited students in terms of mastering rules and learning about different structures. In the context of EFL university students in Libya, the so-called the Inductive Approach has proved to be successful in making students practice the language inside the classroom, but not outside it. It is clear that students are encouraged to be accurate rather than fluent. My main argument is that the instructions provided by the inductive approach are still not able to reflect effectively the natural learning environment. This might be the result of teaching Grammar outside the context. I will argue for that teaching Grammar through context is quite critical in helping students perform more naturally outside the classroom even though communicative activities are randomly selected.

The first chapter analyses the main principles and theories which characterise the Inductive Approach in terms of how, why and when Grammar is taught. It also investigates whether grammar is worth focusing on and how important it is to relate grammatical structures to particular contexts for better clarification. The chapter then explains how that, grammatical rules are not haphazard but rather logical and reasonable. This logic has to be grabbed by our students (i.e., conscious raising). The last section emphasises the value of the linguistic input to develop successful communication inside the classroom as well as outside it.

The second chapter focuses on the Libyan context and illustrates how Grammar is taught in EFL classes with regard to the roles played by teachers and Grammar textbooks in shaping the classroom. The last section imposes some implications for teaching grammar through realistic contexts for the intended context.

Chapter1: The Teaching of Grammar through the Inductive Approach

There has been a long investigation concerning the most effective method of teaching particular grammatical structures to EFL students. A number of researches assure that the majority of EFL teachers were convinced about the value of the formal instruction (Lightbown and Spada, cited in Carol Harron and Michael Tomasello, 1992).

However, these instructions, in order to be productive, should maintain a sound balance between the three essential linguistic elements, namely the form, function and meaning. The Inductive approach is based on the assumption that learners are provided with materials and texts to observe and build on their own understandings of the target language. The assumption is that by doing so, rules will stick better to mind (Nunan, 1998).

This notion does not bear in mind that some students may develop wrong assumptions about certain grammatical structures in terms of what message one structure could covey in one context and what message it could convey in another. Therefore, the next section will discuss the importance of context to Grammar teaching.

- What is Grammar Teaching?

How to teach grammar has nothing to do with what it means to teach it. Ellis (1994) states that, teaching rules either explicitly or implicitly is not relevant to the real purpose of grammar teaching. Freeman (1991) also argues that paying attention on form or structure only will not be enough if not integrated through communication in order to help learners comprehend what is being said as well as express themselves in a suitable sociolinguistic style.

Therefore, to teach grammar effectively teachers need to check that students produce accurate, meaningful and appropriate structures. More recently, Shehadeh (2005) refers to a number of researchers who emphasised the fact that developing students’ knowledge about the formal characteristics of the L2 is worth taking into consideration. However, this knowledge cannot work properly unless there is a parallel emphasis on fluency, meaning and communication. Corder (1988) also points out that Grammar and meaning are interrelated and one cannot be separated from each other. In his point of view, Grammatical competence is nothing but an essential part of the learner’s communicative competence. The ultimate goal of teaching is to supply the learner with the correct linguistic knowledge at the suitable time or, in other words, providing him with sufficient equipment to create their own techniques to investigate their understandings of the target language. (Corder, 1988)

- Grammar Acquisition and Context

Although the inductive approach is based on creating interactive classes to produce language, many EFL learners still seem to be hesitant to use the target language outside the classroom. In other words, the drills and exercises and communicative activities do not provide the learners with the sufficient input to interact freely on both of the communication forms, speaking and writing. The Inductive Approach has neglected one major criterion in the teaching of grammatical structures, namely the authenticity of the context in which these forms occur.

Teaching Grammar is not just about how to construct a sentence of any kind, but it is also about when, and why to use this or that structure. Nunan (2003) illustrates the case when he describes the introduction of the passive voice as being rather form-focused process implemented on isolated sentences (e.g., He broke the window vs. The window was broken) with no reference to the context in which this or that form should be more appropriate. Nunan argues that focus of formation process will not help students see the communicative occasions in which the passive would be more suitable than the active voice.

Nunan’s argument seems to be quite logical as he continues to discuss the value of giving students the chance to discover grammar in context. By doing so, students will understand that alternatives exist to express various communicative discourses (Nunan, 1998). Freeman (2003) on his turn did not deny the usefulness of thumb rules when learning Grammar, because they represent a practical tool about language structure. This usefulness is however limited for one reason. These rules have much to do with teaching forms with little attention to meaning and usage.


Excerpt out of 12 pages


Teaching Grammar to EFL University Students
Misurata University  (School of Education)
English Language Teaching
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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472 KB
EFL, Libya, inductive approach, grammar, second language
Quote paper
Mohamed Ben Nasr (Author), 2016, Teaching Grammar to EFL University Students, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/342682


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