As an English teacher, I have been developing myself by searching for grammar-related journals, books, materials and other stuff involved to read and shape my thinking of how to teach students English grammar effectively. Fortunately, I found lots of journals in need, but I decided to pick up the most interesting one, entitled Grammar and Grammaring: Towards Modes for English Grammar Teaching in China, for my free-time reading to apply something that I've read to be as a means of my English language teaching.
The journal I mentioned above emphasizes the two methods of teaching Chinese students English, referring to linguistics and storytelling, despite the fact that there are many different English teaching methods being applied in different contexts such as Grammar-Translation Method, Audio-Lingual Method, Grammar Consciousness Raising Method, Interactional Feedback Approach, Discourse-based Teaching, Task-based Grammar Teaching, Output Tasks Communicative Teaching, Story-based Approach, etc. Linguistic and story-telling methods are employed to teach students English grammar in most of the English departments in China. In this journal, it insists the use of linguistic method is fit for advanced learners of English because it is more reasoning-centered than knowledge-centered and is designed from linguistic and academic perspective, while the use of story-telling method is fit for beginners because it is more skill-centered than rule-centered and is designed from social and communicative perspective. In terms of role of grammar teaching, there are differing views, especially from scholars, on the role of grammar teaching in foreign language teaching since the issue is differently defined, depending on its perspectives or its different language learning contexts.
However, there is a positive role of grammar teaching in foreign language learning as a lot of research has claimed. It is because grammar is one of the most important elements of English language learning, helping students not only internalize the rules and functions but also inquiry the use of it in different contexts. The following example is a dialogue-based test on distinguishing active voice and passive voice. Consider the following dialogue and explain the reasons or the aims of Speaker A in answering in different ways.
A: I won't go to the party.
A1: You haven't invited me.
A2: Nobody has invited me.
A3: I haven't been invited.
Of course, you can use all of the A1-A2-A3 sentences to reply to the listener B, but you should be or must be aware of the level of politeness. From the dialogue, A 1 is the most direct way of answering that shows complaint to the listener B, and A 2 is moderate but still expresses a kind of dissatisfaction, while A 3 is a mild way which shows politeness. This example shows that choices of different forms of grammar can express various feelings and bring different communicative effects.
Another example is that when talking about the conjunction and, students know how to use it, but they might not know how to use it for a pragmatic effect. Students are usually taught to use and before the last component when it is used to coordinate with more than three components. But in fact this rule can be violated for a specific purpose. Here is an example.
A. Mary bought a skirt, a shirt, a coat and a handbag.
B. May bought a skirt and a shirt and a coat and a handbag.
Sentence A tells us a fact and is commonly seen in general, but Sentence B entails more than that and is not commonly seen in general. What is the difference between A and B? Keep in mind that when and is used between all the noun phrases (NP) instead of being used only between the last two, it not only functions as connecting two coordinate structures but also embodies some 'emotional' effect and 'rhetorical' effect.
This method is used as a grammar lesson focusing on 'volume and repetition'. By learning English through storytelling, students will be given opportunities to use the items to be learnt as much as possible. Despite student-centered gradually promoted in the English classroom, teachers should help students make the leap from form-focused accuracy to meaning-focused fluency after explicit instructions by providing students with a variety of classroom exercises that motivate students to understand both in form and communicative meaning. Learning English through the method of storytelling can help students enhance the four skills -- listening, speaking, reading and writing. Therefore, it is also called integrated method.
To make students feel more relaxed when learning English, teachers better use the make-up material that suits the level of the students in control for students to listen and read. After listening and reading, the students can be asked to have a free talk about their hobbies or whatever they want to share with their classmates in small groups. In this way, they will be highly motivated to learn by hearing more stories from their own classmates. After class, teachers can order them to write down their own stories for final check on their learning outcomes.
Despite the fact that grammar is not the ultimate goal of learning a foreign language, it is still one of the most significant elements of language learning as students or learners need a major need of certain degree of mastery of the target language. So it is crucial for teachers to reform and adjust teaching contents and methods according to the variation of English contexts being used in the present world.
Grammar can be taught both as knowledge and skills. Teaching grammar as knowledge, linguistic teaching method focuses on a clear understanding of grammar rules, functions and features of grammar learning. Storytelling offers students the meaningful learning of English grammar and smooth communication in different contexts.
Summed up by Chanpradit T.