Aspects of Modern Language Teaching in Europe

By Wolf Gewehr; Georgia Catsimali et al. | Go to book overview
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Part III


Grammar, however one defines it, has been central to the teaching of languages since that practice began, and central also to the debate about language teaching and its relationship to linguistics, and associated sciences, of the last quarter of a century.

This part of the book is interesting because, among other things, it represents the views of three people from a range of nationalities and background, all of whom address themselves to the place of grammar in language teaching. They share, however, the conviction that the purpose of language teaching is to permit people to communicate with each other.

The first contribution has been written by Antony Peck (Chapter 8). It is firmly situated in the classroom. It advocates no theories, it is pragmatic and eclectic, and attempts to apply common sense to the question of grammar teaching. It is placed first in the series of four because it takes as its starting point the question of why we should teach grammar at all. It continues by trying to throw some light on what grammar teaching actually is, and finally reaches the conclusion, founded on many years of experience, that teachers should be eclectic in their approach. While the chapter begins with generalities, it finishes with a precise and specific example of how a grammatical rule of English can be taught communicatively.

Georgia Catsimali sets herself a difficult, unenviable, but important task (Chapter 9). She tries to bridge the yawning gap between theoretical linguistics and language teaching. Her chapter brings the reader, full circle, back to generalities, but this time to the theoretical point of departure. Her point of view is one that many have paid lip-service to, but few have tried to implement. What conceivable relevance can a linguistic theory, such as that of Noam Chomsky, have to the classroom language teacher? Not much, it would seem at first sight. Yet Chomsky reminded us that children can learn any natural language with ease, and proposed a theory to account for this


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