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Pedagogical Descriptions of Language: Grammar

  • Diane Larsen-Freeman


For hundreds of years, language educators have alternated between favoring language teaching approaches which focus on language form and those which emphasize language use or which focus on the message (Celce-Murcia 1979). For the greater part of this past decade, it has been the latter which have been fashionable. As a consequence, language teachers have been discouraged from teaching grammar. In fact, during the 1980s explicit grammer instruction has even been proscribed by certain methodologists (Krashen 1982; 1985, Krashen and Terrell 1983, Prabhu 1987). Although this position has been repeatedly assailed (Higgs and Clifford 1982, Long 1983; 1988, Harley and Swain 1984, Pienemann 1984), the proscribers persist. Only as recently as June 1988, Van Patten concluded that “…research evidence to date does not suggest that a focus on form is either necessary or beneficial to early stage learners’ (1988:243). Undeniable is the fact that research has pointed to a difference in learner performance (e.g., type of errors made) depending on whether there is a focus on form or not (Pica 1983, Spada 1987); still to be resolved, and surely an issue which will motivate much research in the next decade, is the extent to which a focus on form versus on a focus on message affects the rate of target language attainment. Such research will hopefully be conducted in a way which disambiguates “focus on form” (Larsen-Freeman and Long 1988, Beretta 1989).



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Pedagogical Descriptions of Language: Grammar

  • Diane Larsen-Freeman


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