The Effects of Deductive and Guided Inductive Instructional Approaches on the Learning of Grammar in the Elementary Foreign Language College Classroom

Article excerpt

Abstract:

This study investigates the effectiveness of deductive and guided inductive approaches for teaching grammar in college French classrooms. Forty-seven second-semester French students were taught eight grammatical structures: four with a deductive instructional approach and four with a guided inductive instructional approach. A quasiexperimental within-subjects design featuring pre- and posttests and eight immediate posttreatment quizzes assessed the long- and short-term gains in grammatical knowledge for each condition. Results indicated a significant difference between participants' mean immediate test scores favoring the guided inductive approach. Findings of this study also indicated a strong trend in favor of guided induction on the long-term learning of grammatical structures. The results of this study support using a guided inductive instructional approach to teach grammar in the beginning-level foreign language classroom.

Key words: deductive, guided inductive, instructional approaches, PACE, technology

Language: French, relevant to all languages

Introduction

What is the most effective approach to teaching grammar in a foreign language classroom? Throughout the history of second language and foreign language instruction, most researchers and instructors have agreed that pedagogical practices make a difference in language learning (Arteaga, Herschensohn, & Gess, 2003; Aski, 2005; Ellis, 1990; Larsen-Freeman, 2003; Lee & Valdman, 2000; Lightbown, 1998; Lightbown & Spada, 1990; Long, 1983; Spada & Lightbown, 1993; VanPatten, 1996). This discussion of which instructional approaches are most effective in foreign language learning in the classroom environment has taken several forms. One of the most frequently debated and unanswered questions on the subject of effective language learning concerns the issue of whether students should be taught to focus on the rule before using the structural forms (the deductive approach) or to use the grammatical structures in a functional practice session before the rule presentation (the inductive approach). The aim of this study was to investigate whether various rule explication techniques should precede or follow a focus on the use of grammatical forms.

This question was studied by comparing the effectiveness of a traditional deductive instructional approach, which focused on form first, and a guided inductive instructional approach, which focused first on a specific function of the language linked to a specific context and meaning. For example, in order to teach French relative pronouns using the guided inductive approach, students were exposed first to this grammar point through a contextualized activity, entirely in French, in which they used relative pronouns to link ideas. This activity was followed by an instructor and student exchange in French of how the grammatical pattern functions. In the deductive approach, the instructor first exposed students to relative pronouns through an explanation in French of how relative pronouns function with the help of sample sentences. This instructor's explanation was followed by the students practicing the use of the new form in a contextualized activity, entirely in French. Generally, in a deductive approach the analysis of the targeted grammar structure precedes practice exercises and activities (Erlam, 2003; Hammerly, 1975; Larsen-Freeman, 2003).

Where there appears to be little variety in deductive approaches, guided inductive instructional approaches in language classrooms take on many forms and several strategies coexist. Some rely on the students to induce the rule themselves (Rosa & O'Neill, 1999; Shaffer, 1989). Other strategies use guided inductive techniques that focus students' attention on the structure through a series of leading questions (Herron & Tomasello, 1992). Adair-Hauck, Donato, and Cumo-Johanssen's (2005) PACE model teaches grammar through targeted structures that are embedded naturally in a presentation text. …