The English grammar

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The English grammar Unit one: What is grammar? Question 1. Can you formulate a definition of ‘grammar’? Compare your definition with a dictionary’s. Question 2. Think of two languages you know. Can you suggest an example of a structure that exists in one but not in the other? How difficult is the structure to learn for the speaker of the other language? Question 3. Choose a structure in your own native language. How would you explain its meaning to learners? How would you get them to understand when this particular structure would be used rather than others with slightly different meanings? Unit Two: The place o grammar teaching Opinions about the teaching of grammar Extract 1 The important point is that the study of grammar as such is neither necessary nor sufficient

for learning to use a language. (from L. Newmark, ‘How not to interfere with ‘language learning’ in Brumfit, C.J. and Johnson, K. (eds.) The Communicative Approach to Language Teaching, Oxford University Press. 99, p. 65) Extract 2 The student’s craving for explicit formulization of generalizations can usually be met better by textbooks and grammars that he reads outside class than by discussion in class. (ibid.) Extract 3 The language teacher’s view of what constitutes knowledge of a language is a knowledge of the syntactic structure of sentences The assumption that the language teacher appears to make is that once this basis is provided, then the learner will have no difficulty in dealing with the actual use of language. There is a good deal of evidence to suggest

that this assumption is of very doubtful validity indeed. (from H.G. Widdowson, ‘Directions in the teaching of discourse’ in Brimful, C. J. and Johnson, K. (eds.) The Communicative Approach to Language Teaching, Oxford University Press, 1979, pp. 49-0) Extract 4 The evidence seems to show beyond doubt that though it is by communicative use in real ‘speech acts’ that the new language ‘sticks’ in the learner’s mind, insight into pattern is an equal partner with communicative use in what language teachers now see as the dual process of acquisition / learning. Grammar, approached as a voyage of discovery into the patterns of language rather than the learning o prescriptive rules, is no longer a bogey word. (from Eric Hawkins, Awareness of Language: An Introduction,

Cambridge University Press, 1984, pp. 150-1) Task Critical reading Read the extracts and discuss your reactions. Unit Three: Grammatical terms Question Look at a text in a course book you know and try to find two or more examples of each of the sentence components listed below. The sentence is a set o words standing on their own as a sense unit, its conclusion marked by a full stop or equivalent (question mark, exclamation mark). In many languages sentences begin with a capital letter, and include a verb. The clause is a kind of mini-sentence: a set o words which make a sense unit, but may not be concluded by a full stop. A sentence may have two or more clauses (She left because it was late and she was tired.) or only one (She was tired.). The phrase is a shorter unit within the

clause, of one or more words, but fulfilling the same sort of function as a single word. A verb phrase, for example, functions the same way as a single-word verb, a noun phrase like a one –word noun or pronoun: was going, a long table. The word is the minimum normally separable form: in writing, it appears as a stretch of letters with a space either side. The morpheme is a bit of a word which can be perceived as a distinct component: within the word passed, for example, are the two morphemes pass, and –ed. A word may consist of a single morpheme (book). Question Using a sentence from a course book you know, find at least one of each of these categories: subject, verb, object, complement and adverbial. Parts of speech The main parts of speech are: nouns (such as horse, Syria)