Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 2 February 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Challenges and Problems in the Teaching of Grammar

Prashant Mishra, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.


Teaching of Grammar has always remained a controversial subject as the method and material adopted in teaching it. L1 learners learn their mother tongue intuitively but for L2 learners, teaching of grammar becomes inevitable in order to acquaint them with the norms of the target language.

In the 21st century, so many paradigms - Structuralism, Transformational Generative Grammar, Functional Grammar, and Pragmatics etc. came into existence and bewildered the language teachers with their jargon and hypotheses.

A grammar teacher remains in a state of confusion to decide whether he should follow the old prescriptive approach or the descriptive approach of the Structural Linguists; whether he should aim at the achievement of grammatical competence or communicative competence of the learners; whether he should concentrate on the parts of sentences by parsing them or on the utterances of the speakers; whether a teacher should concentrate in his pedagogy on the teaching of rules or the correct use of language.

The paper attempts to explore the challenges and problems faced by a language teacher in the teaching of grammar. It is written in the light of the necessity of grammar teaching to maintain intelligibility and comprehensibility of the speech of the learners of the second language.

Keywords: Grammar, contextualization, socio-cultural situations, structures and forms, communicative competence.


Before initiating a teaching programme, a teacher must know whether he is going to teach the learners of L1 or L2. In an L1 situation, learners learn their mother tongue intuitively. It is culturally and environmentally inherited by them.

The culture or the environment around them becomes their covert teacher that provides them sufficient exposure through which grammatical forms and structures required to use a language correctly and proficiently are naturally transferred to their memory. But when it comes to the learning of a second language and if it is a foreign language, exposure is very limited, artificial and conscious.

Learners, therefore, do not feel at home and if not motivated properly feel it an extra burden on them. Even if the L2 learners receive some exposure, it is received not through the native speakers but through those who themselves have learnt the target language as L2. In such a situation, for an effective learning of L2, learning of grammar becomes very necessary.

According to C. Paul Verghese, "A knowledge of grammar is perhaps more important to a second-language learner than to a native speaker. This is because in the process of acquiring the language the native speaker has intuitively internalized the grammar of the language whereas the second language learner has to make a conscious effort to master those aspects of the language which account for grammaticality. It is, therefore, necessary for us, to whom English is a second language, to learn the grammar of the language" (Verghese1989:41).

Hence acquainting the learners of L2 with the correct norms of the target language and providing them practice through creating meaningful situations in the class room becomes necessary. The present paper aims to investigate the various problems and challenges faced by a pedagogue in teaching grammar effectively to the learners of a second language.

Standard of the Students

One of the problems generally faced by most of the teachers of English at the college level is the poor standard of the students. Students are even ignorant of the basic rules and structural patterns which they are supposed to have learnt at the school level. If a teacher directly starts his teaching at the graduate level without trying to know the level of the students, his efforts will not bear any fruits as he will not be able to raise a structure over a feeble foundation.

Therefore, a teacher before starting his teaching programme must assess the language background of the learners. Keeping in view the background of the learners, he should select his teaching items, grade them and present them in accordance with the local situations.

A teacher should begin from the simple grammatical items and proceed towards the complex ones. Each succeeding grammatical item has to be based on the previous ones taught earlier in the class. Thus, by carefully selecting the frequently recurring grammatical items and by grading them as per the background of the learners, a teacher should provide constant practice to the students in creating and using sentences based on the grammatical forms and structures in various day-today situations of their lives.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Compounds in Tolkappiyam and Balavyakaranam - A Comparison | Automatic Nominal Morphological Recognizer and Analyzer for Sanskrit: Method and Implementation | A Critical Study of The Wasteland - Poetry as Metaphor | Communicative Language Teaching - An Overview | Cinema and the New Media | Culture and Second Language Learning and Teaching - An Exploration in Tamil | R. K. Narayan's Humour in Swami and Friends | Towards Meeting Global Challenge - Cyber Based Instruction in Foreign Language Teaching | Novel Technologies, Engines and Mobiles in Language Learning | Role of Language in Effective Managerial Communication | Pragmatic Analysis of Politeness Theory | The Varied Horizon of Multimedia & Web Tools for English Language Acquisition in the Information Age | Challenges and Problems in the Teaching of Grammar | Some Features of Tirukkural Telugu Translations | Issues of Social and Ideological Empowerment in Contemporary Indian Women Writing in English | Does Stress-Shift Lead to Word-Class Conversion in English? | Insight through Body Language and Non-verbal Communication References in Tirukkural | Think-Aloud Protocol -- Elicitation of Strategy Use and Solution to Learning Problem | Voice of the Voiceless: Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape and George Ryga's Indian - A Comparative Study | Inside the Haveli: A Study | HOME PAGE of February 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Prashant Mishra, Ph.D.
Department of English
S. V. Government P.G. College
Neemuch (M.P.) 458441
Madhya Pradesh, India
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