There is no teaching without grammar. Grammar is key to the teaching-learning process in languages. We all know that but it doesn´t make it easier.First of all many stereotypes have been linked to grammar. How many students complain about the intricacies of grammar and all the boredom it brings? How many teachers dread teaching grammar because it’s difficult?

For many years language teachers have apologized for teaching grammar to their students. As Eric Hawkins pointed out: Teachers of languages, both foreign languages and mother tongue have allowed themselves to be manoeuvred into apologizing for mentioning grammar, as a word to be ashamed of. It is not easy to reverse such an attitude. (Hawkins 1984)

Communicative approaches have stressed the importance of having fun in classes while excluding the use of grammar.

We tend to associate the word “grammar” to fixed rules and forms that compose the language. We may also have the tendency to believe that we have to teach the “correct” grammar while forgetting that communication is not just a set of rules but it is something that evolves and is not necessarily the grammar we will hear in spoken language. Teaching grammar just as a set of rules to learn is pointless in most cases. As a teacher you will find out that focusing on grammar through explanation and sets of practical exercises will just create an army of students ready to complete any type of grammar exercises while at the same time they will be quite unable to use this grammar in practical situations.

6 Grammar introduction V

Does this mean that we should avoid teaching grammar?Many recent theories and researches have put in light the fact that language acquisition should be something natural. Therefore many language teachers tend not to teach grammar at all under the assumption that students will learn their second language the same they learned their mother tongue. In other words the use and teaching of grammar is seen as a brake in this type of teaching. Communicative approaches have stressed the importance of having fun in classes while excluding the use of grammar. What we tend to forget with these methods is that our students are not immersed 100% into the second language so they will not have the opportunity to practise their use of language as if it were their first language.

So should we avoid teaching grammar? The answer is a resounding “No”. We need to try to get a different perception of it to embed it in every day’s reality.

Finding a balance between these two theories may find its roots in an approach that allows some teaching of grammar so that students can use it in real communicative tasks. Grammar should be seen as a powerful tool that will help students not only to understand their second languages but that should help them as well to understand their own language and to a certain extent themselves. From day one in our lessons we need to show our students that grammar is not only a powerful tool but that it can also be interesting and fun.

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