Teaching Grammar: A Review of Diane Larsen-Freeman's Book
Grammar is one of the most essential and challenging aspects of language teaching and learning. How can teachers help their students master the rules and patterns of a foreign language while also developing their communicative skills and creativity In her book Teaching Language: From Grammar to Grammaring, Diane Larsen-Freeman offers a comprehensive and practical overview of different approaches to grammar teaching, from traditional methods to more recent ones that emphasize meaning, use, and context. She also proposes a new perspective on grammar as a dynamic and complex system that can be explored and manipulated by learners rather than a fixed set of rules to be memorized and applied.
In this article, I will summarize the main points of Larsen-Freeman's book and discuss its implications for language teachers and learners. I will also provide some examples of activities and tasks that can be used to implement her ideas in the classroom.
The Grammar-Translation Method
The grammar-translation method is one of the oldest and most widely used methods of language teaching. It is based on the assumption that learning a language involves learning its grammar rules and vocabulary, and then translating texts from or into the target language. The main goals of this method are to enable students to read and write in the target language, and to develop their mental abilities through logical analysis and memorization. The main techniques of this method are:
Presenting grammar rules and examples.
Asking students to memorize vocabulary lists.
Asking students to translate sentences or texts from or into the target language.
Asking students to do exercises that test their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary.
Correcting students' errors and providing feedback.
The advantages of this method are that it is easy to implement, it provides clear and explicit explanations of grammar, it covers a large amount of linguistic material, and it can help students develop their reading and writing skills. The disadvantages of this method are that it is boring, it ignores the communicative aspects of language, it does not reflect how languages are used in real situations, it does not foster students' creativity or autonomy, and it does not address individual differences or learning styles.
The Direct Method
The direct method is a reaction to the grammar-translation method. It is based on the assumption that learning a language involves learning how to use it in natural and meaningful contexts, rather than learning about its form. The main goals of this method are to enable students to communicate in the target language, and to develop their oral and aural skills. The main techniques of this method are:
Using only the target language in the classroom.
Presenting new words and structures through demonstration, pictures, gestures, or realia.
Asking students to repeat, imitate, or respond to the teacher's input.
Asking students to engage in dialogues, conversations, or role-plays with the teacher or other students.
Asking students to do activities that require them to use the target language for a purpose.
Avoiding explicit grammar explanations or corrections.
The advantages of this method are that it is more interesting and motivating for students, it exposes them to authentic and varied language input, it develops their fluency and confidence in speaking and listening, it fosters their natural acquisition processes, and it respects their individual needs and preferences. The disadvantages of this method are that it is difficult to implement, it requires a high level of proficiency and creativity from the teacher, it may neglect some aspects of grammar or vocabulary that are not easily taught through context, it may not suit some students who prefer more explicit or structured instruction, and it may not prepare students for academic or formal situations that require reading and writing skills.
The Audio-Lingual Method
The audio-lingual method is an extension of the direct method. It is based on the assumption that learning a language involves forming correct habits through repetition and reinforcement. The main goals of this method are to enable students to produce accurate and fluent speech in the target language, and to prevent them from making errors or transferring habits from their native language. The main techniques of this method are:
Using audio recordings or live speech as models for imitation. ec8f644aee