Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Effectiveness of a Guided Inductive versus a Deductive Approach on the Learning of Grammar in the Intermediate-Level College French Classroom

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Effectiveness of a Guided Inductive versus a Deductive Approach on the Learning of Grammar in the Intermediate-Level College French Classroom

Article excerpt

Abstract: This study investigated how to present grammatical structures to intermediate-level French college students. It compared the effects of a guided inductive and a deductive approach on short- and long-term learning of 10 structures. A mixed-methods design was adopted to assess learning of the structures and to investigate preference of approach. Performances in both conditions were measured through a within-subjects design featuring a pretest/posttest and immediate posttreatment tests. A questionnaire assessed students' preferences and relationships between preferences and performance were examined. Findings indicated a significantly greater effect of the guided inductive approach on short-term learning. The long-term findings and the relationship between preferences and performances were not significant. Analyses indicated that students who preferred explanations of the rules performed better with a guided inductive approach.

Key words: French, deductive, guided inductive, instructional approaches, intermediatelevel, PACE


The adoption of language teaching practices aimed at developing language learners' proficiency in communicative contexts has led to research on the effects of grammar instruction on foreign language (FL) learning. Discussions on how and why to teach grammar have often been linked to theories of implicit and explicit instruction. Some theorists such as Krashen (1982; Krashen& Terrell, 1983) argued that learners could acquire a language implicitly through enough exposure to comprehensible input, rejecting the need to teach formally the linguistic features of a FL. Others have insisted that it was essential for learners to notice the various forms of the language in order for the input to be processed, thus claiming that some form of explicit instruction was necessary (Harley, 1989; Long, 1983; Schmidt, 1995; Scott, 1989, 1990; Swain, 1984, 1998; VanPatten, 1996). In this vein, some researchers have highlighted the importance of output for students to process grammatical structures they have not yet acquired and to receive feedback on their emerging linguistic hypotheses (Swain, 1985).

In light of these conflicting theories, the question of whether grammar should be taught in the classroom became the focus of FL investigations. Many researchers in the field have agreed that some elements of explicit instruction, or focus on various forms of the target language, could make a difference and facilitate the learning of a FL (Adair-Hauck & Donato, 2002a; Aski, 2005; DeKeyser, 1998; Doughty & Williams, 1998; Ellis, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2008a, 2008b; Fotos, 1993; Long, 1983; Norris & Ortega, 2000; VanPatten, 1993). Instructional approaches that aim at drawing students' attention to linguistic forms in a real communicative context are now considered most appropriate for the current goals of FL instruction (Doughty & Williams, 1998; Ellis, 2001, 2008b; Katz & Blyth, 2008; Wong & VanPatten, 2003). In addition to the essential role of grammar in effective communication, linguistic accuracy remains an important component of proficiency-oriented instruction (ACTFL, 1982). The principles of the proficiency model stress form-focused instruction in a meaningful context and emphasize the importance of accuracy as a component of communicative competence. An unresolved issue related to stressing form in the communicative classroom focuses on the question of when and how the information regarding grammatical rules is best provided to learners (Erlam, 2003; Herron & Tomasello, 1992; Robinson, 1996; Shaffer, 1989). The debate concerns whether rules should be taught explicitly before a practice activity (a deductive approach) or whether a contextualized practice activity should precede a focus on the rule (an inductive approach).

Researchers and classroom instructors approach the teaching of grammar with various strategies. While there seems to be a consensus on how to implement a deductive approach, i. …

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