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Re: Discrete Grammar Teaching

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  • langeegnal
    I was thinking typical Japanese college student. I suppose it is generally accepted that children shouldn t learn grammar explicitly. JHS English texts
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 3, 2011
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      I was thinking typical Japanese college student. I suppose it is
      generally accepted that children shouldn't learn grammar explicitly.
      JHS English texts introduce basic grammar and it just gets more
      complicated through high school. My college seems to think that since
      their English is so bad, they didn't study enough and they need to do it
      all over again.

      I noticed something strange when I observed an English lesson at an
      elementary school. The teacher wanted to teach, "How many..." and
      that's all. They already knew shapes and colors, so he would ask the
      class, "How many red squares?" and so on. I thought that he would
      naturally use "...are there..." once in a while, but it seemed like he
      was avoiding it, probably because they hadn't learned it yet. He never
      said, "Are there 2 blue triangles?" instead he said something like,
      "Two blue triangles, OK?". I thought then that if you can't use natural
      language with children, who can you use it with? Japanese English
      teachers in college tell me that they can't use English to teach their
      class because it will be too hard for the students - they won't
      understand. I see the same idea with these children - using "are there"
      is too difficult for them. There is little faith in any kind of
      implicit learning.

      I want to show my son English on TV but shows like "Eigo De Asobou" try
      to limit the vocab and structure so much that it isn't even normal
      language anymore. I wonder why English education is like this in Japan.
      I would never use "artificial" English grammar with my son to help him
      understand better. I assume he will learn it implicitly. I do think
      limiting my vocabulary is helpful though. I have to use the words he'll
      know to communicate my message. It seems to me that it's good to
      shelter vocabulary but not grammar. Any thoughts on this?

      Kriss


      --- In ExtensiveReading@yahoogroups.com, Glen Hill <glenahill@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > We need a fixed starting point here, I think. Absolute beginner?
      False
      > beginner? Japanese college student with 6 years of JHS/HS under their
      belt?
      > I have grad students who have not take any English courses for 3
      years, so
      > they are as weak as when they started university, if not weaker, yet
      they
      > have some experience beyond HS.
      >
      > Reason to learn the grammar? (ESP, general conversation, etc.)
      > The discourse will be different.
      >
      > Glenski
      >
      > On Fri, Mar 4, 2011 at 2:02 PM, Rob Waring waring_robert@... wrote:
      >
      > >
      > >
      > > Kriss,
      > >
      > > I'd say that we can't easily separate 'vocabulary' from 'grammar'
      anyway. A
      > > lot of language knowledge is a blend of grammaticalized lexis or
      lexicalized
      > > grammar if one prefers (think multi-word verbs, colligations,
      phrases etc)
      > > many of which can be learnt discretely and can become available for
      fluent
      > > use over time. There seems to be a kind of scale from 'clearly
      lexical ' -
      > > say concrete objects such as 'apple', to the lexico-grammatical
      (give *
      > > something* *to* *someone*) and beyond. I don't have a clear scale in
      my
      > > head. It's probably multi-dimensional anyway as language is by
      nature fuzzy
      > > and inconsistent.
      > >
      > > That said I think the easier 'rules' can be learn discretely (add
      -er to
      > > make comparative adjectives) but there are a lot which need to be
      picked up
      > > by a combination of awareness raising (highlighting difference and
      features
      > > of an item through teaching) and CI to get a 'feel' for the form.
      > >
      > > We do know though that grammatical items tend not to be picked up in
      one go
      > > as they are systemic in nature. There's often a delay between first
      > > introduction and later fluent use. Think for example of the learners
      who met
      > > the present perfect tense in second year junior high but still can't
      use it
      > > some 6 years later with much accuracy/fluency.
      > >
      > > But despite 120 years of serious research into language learning we
      have
      > > absolutely no idea how long it's going to take to learn a
      grammatical item,
      > > but we can predict the same for discrete vocabulary items (20-30
      meetings on
      > > average from CI). No one to my knowledge has ever researched it.
      > >
      > >
      > > Rob
      > > Skype: waring_robert
      > > http://www.robwaring.org/er/index.html
      > >
      > > The First Extensive Reading World Congress
      > > Kyoto Sangyo University, Kyoto, Japan
      > > 3-6 Sept 2011 http://erfoundation.org/erwc1
      > >
      > > On Mar 4, 2011, at 1:49 PM, langeegnal wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > I enjoyed participating in the Discrete Vocabulary Teaching thread,
      so I
      > > just wondered if there may be a similar discussion about discrete
      grammar
      > > teaching.
      > >
      > > As in the vocabulary thread would the basic consensus (for Rob and
      others)
      > > be that explicit grammar teaching may improve grammatical knowledge
      but with
      > > or without it we still need CI and implicit grammar learning (I'm
      not using
      > > 'acquisition' to avoid confusion) in order for correct structures to
      become
      > > established in the interlanguage and usable?
      > >
      > > Are there any fundamental differences to how we should think about
      teaching
      > > vocabulary and grammar in regards to explicit and implicit
      instruction? If
      > > not, then we are left with Glenski's question of *how much* explicit
      > > grammar teaching and implicit is the best mix.
      > >
      > > Kriss
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
    • Glen Hill
      As for Eigo de Asobou, my son watches it, too. Fortunately, all I ever used with him was English, and my wife dearly tried for the first 2 years, too, so that
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 4, 2011
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        As for Eigo de Asobou, my son watches it, too. Fortunately, all I ever used with him was English, and my wife dearly tried for the first 2 years, too, so that TV program was actually only a reminder of English up to a point, and then it just became more of an amusement for him to watch (still does at 7). Don't worry about it hurting his English. All the exposure they can get is good exposure, IMO.

        As far as college students go, I tend to agree with people like Mike Guest, who advocates at his med school that first-year students have been exposed to enough grammar in the previous 6 years. He teaches them discourse, how to use what they should have learned. It's up to them to try reviewing or catching up if they want to perform well in the activities he gives them. I don't teach OC classes anymore (thank God!), but I support that notion. Mike (and I) have student populations with a limited number of majors in them, so it's easy for us to say "Teach them how to operate in the fields where they will end up working", but for very mixed levels, you can probably still find a middle ground of things for them to do with English. Mike and I pretty much say, "Stop running an eikaiwa in class, and stop having 18-20 year olds doing things like asking about the weekend". Up the ante. My co-worker here teaches OC classes, and he makes them real 4-skills courses. Students have to write on blogs or wikis or such, have to read short articles on topics related to their majors (for homework, of course, to minimize down time in class), and they speak and listen in the class.

        If one is teaching a writing course, however, I would have to say that we have to teach more grammar than in other classes. It goes with the territory. J students don't learn any writing in HS, even in Japanese language. What they do know in J needs to be reoriented in English, and that often means starting at square one with SV and SVO for simple sentences, then on to compound sentences, adding connecting or transition words, followed by some structure with topic sentences. We have 2 first-year composition courses that get students up to the level of writing maybe one essay of 3-5 paragraphs. It takes a lot to get that far! And, grammar is needed there, but in any writing class, the ordeal is to give them the opportunity to write, rewrite, and rewrite several times more so that the grammar and structures get pounded in. There's your analogy to what Rob mentioned about exposure to a single word 20-30 times before they're comfortable with it.

        My college seems to think that since their English is so bad

        I surveyed some grad school teachers at my uni about their perceptions on students (grad and undergrad) reading ability. Got a similar response from one guy. "They are good enough." Yeah, right. Throw them in the deep end at third year with scientific journals that take days to translate, and call it "good enough reading ability". I'm going to take some writing examples from grad students and show them to the administration just to see their reaction to how well such students can write. Then, maybe they'll push the kids harder to take more writing classes after first year (if they took them at all).

        Glenski

        On Fri, Mar 4, 2011 at 3:32 PM, langeegnal <kriss.lange@...> wrote:
         

        I was thinking typical Japanese college student. I suppose it is
        generally accepted that children shouldn't learn grammar explicitly.
        JHS English texts introduce basic grammar and it just gets more
        complicated through high school. My college seems to think that since
        their English is so bad, they didn't study enough and they need to do it
        all over again.

        I noticed something strange when I observed an English lesson at an
        elementary school. The teacher wanted to teach, "How many..." and
        that's all. They already knew shapes and colors, so he would ask the
        class, "How many red squares?" and so on. I thought that he would
        naturally use "...are there..." once in a while, but it seemed like he
        was avoiding it, probably because they hadn't learned it yet. He never
        said, "Are there 2 blue triangles?" instead he said something like,
        "Two blue triangles, OK?". I thought then that if you can't use natural
        language with children, who can you use it with? Japanese English
        teachers in college tell me that they can't use English to teach their
        class because it will be too hard for the students - they won't
        understand. I see the same idea with these children - using "are there"
        is too difficult for them. There is little faith in any kind of
        implicit learning.

        I want to show my son English on TV but shows like "Eigo De Asobou" try
        to limit the vocab and structure so much that it isn't even normal
        language anymore. I wonder why English education is like this in Japan.
        I would never use "artificial" English grammar with my son to help him
        understand better. I assume he will learn it implicitly. I do think
        limiting my vocabulary is helpful though. I have to use the words he'll
        know to communicate my message. It seems to me that it's good to
        shelter vocabulary but not grammar. Any thoughts on this?

        Kriss

        --- In ExtensiveReading@yahoogroups.com, Glen Hill <glenahill@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > We need a fixed starting point here, I think. Absolute beginner?
        False
        > beginner? Japanese college student with 6 years of JHS/HS under their
        belt?
        > I have grad students who have not take any English courses for 3
        years, so
        > they are as weak as when they started university, if not weaker, yet
        they
        > have some experience beyond HS.
        >
        > Reason to learn the grammar? (ESP, general conversation, etc.)
        > The discourse will be different.
        >
        > Glenski
        >
        > On Fri, Mar 4, 2011 at 2:02 PM, Rob Waring waring_robert@... wrote:
        >
        > >
        > >
        > > Kriss,
        > >
        > > I'd say that we can't easily separate 'vocabulary' from 'grammar'
        anyway. A
        > > lot of language knowledge is a blend of grammaticalized lexis or
        lexicalized
        > > grammar if one prefers (think multi-word verbs, colligations,
        phrases etc)
        > > many of which can be learnt discretely and can become available for
        fluent
        > > use over time. There seems to be a kind of scale from 'clearly
        lexical ' -
        > > say concrete objects such as 'apple', to the lexico-grammatical
        (give *
        > > something* *to* *someone*) and beyond. I don't have a clear scale in
        my
        > > head. It's probably multi-dimensional anyway as language is by
        nature fuzzy
        > > and inconsistent.
        > >
        > > That said I think the easier 'rules' can be learn discretely (add
        -er to
        > > make comparative adjectives) but there are a lot which need to be
        picked up
        > > by a combination of awareness raising (highlighting difference and
        features
        > > of an item through teaching) and CI to get a 'feel' for the form.
        > >
        > > We do know though that grammatical items tend not to be picked up in
        one go
        > > as they are systemic in nature. There's often a delay between first
        > > introduction and later fluent use. Think for example of the learners
        who met
        > > the present perfect tense in second year junior high but still can't
        use it
        > > some 6 years later with much accuracy/fluency.
        > >
        > > But despite 120 years of serious research into language learning we
        have
        > > absolutely no idea how long it's going to take to learn a
        grammatical item,
        > > but we can predict the same for discrete vocabulary items (20-30
        meetings on
        > > average from CI). No one to my knowledge has ever researched it.
        > >
        > >
        > > Rob
        > > Skype: waring_robert
        > > http://www.robwaring.org/er/index.html
        > >
        > > The First Extensive Reading World Congress
        > > Kyoto Sangyo University, Kyoto, Japan
        > > 3-6 Sept 2011 http://erfoundation.org/erwc1
        > >
        > > On Mar 4, 2011, at 1:49 PM, langeegnal wrote:
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > > I enjoyed participating in the Discrete Vocabulary Teaching thread,
        so I
        > > just wondered if there may be a similar discussion about discrete
        grammar
        > > teaching.
        > >
        > > As in the vocabulary thread would the basic consensus (for Rob and
        others)
        > > be that explicit grammar teaching may improve grammatical knowledge
        but with
        > > or without it we still need CI and implicit grammar learning (I'm
        not using
        > > 'acquisition' to avoid confusion) in order for correct structures to
        become
        > > established in the interlanguage and usable?
        > >
        > > Are there any fundamental differences to how we should think about
        teaching
        > > vocabulary and grammar in regards to explicit and implicit
        instruction? If
        > > not, then we are left with Glenski's question of *how much* explicit
        > > grammar teaching and implicit is the best mix.
        > >
        > > Kriss
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >


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