Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Yemeni Teachers' Beliefs of Grammar Teaching and Classroom Practices

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Yemeni Teachers' Beliefs of Grammar Teaching and Classroom Practices

Article excerpt


Beliefs of in-service English teachers about grammar learning/teaching and the influence of such beliefs on their classroom practices remain relatively unexplored. More precisely, this study explores English teachers' beliefs about grammar learning and teaching. It throws light on the teachers' actual practices in the classrooms of 7th -12th grades, at several schools of Hodeidah. The main instrument of this study is the questionnaire used to collect data on teachers' beliefs and their teaching procedures in classrooms. It is administered to 80 teachers of 12 primary and secondary schools. Non-participatory classroom-observations are also made to back up the main data. It is found that teachers do possess a set of complex beliefs about learning and teaching grammar that are likely to be derived from their prior experience of teaching English. These beliefs are correlated with the suggested strategies used to teach grammar as correlation is significant at the 0.05 level though observations have shown that beliefs are not actually reflected in the classroom practices.Eventually, implications of this study are identified for effective teaching of grammar.

Keywords: beliefs, deductive, inductive, explicit, classroom practices, strategies

1. Introduction

1.1 The Place of Grammar in Teaching a Foreign Language

The place of grammar in teaching a foreign language is controversial. In teaching methods based on a structural syllabus (e.g., grammar translation, audiolingualism) grammar holds the primary focus but the advent of communicative language teaching and natural methods has radically changed this place. It has even suggested that teaching grammar is not only unhelpful but might actually be detrimental, on the grounds that teaching grammar does not correlate with acquiring grammar. Recently, research has demonstrated the need for formal instruction for learners to attain high levels of accuracy. This has led to a resurgence of grammar teaching, and its role in second/foreign language acquisition has become the focus of much current investigation.

1.2 Commonly-used Approaches to Grammar Teaching

Grammar is traditionally taught deductively. A deductive approach gives a presentation of a rule which is followed by example drills.

Another one is inductive grammar teaching in which learners are given many examples in different contexts and they are asked to work out the rules by themselves, and then apply them to various exercises to learn how they actually work in real language use. A third alternative to grammar teaching is a combination of both inductive and deductive approaches to benefit from the advantages of both, it is grammar based teaching (GBT). It is an approach recommended by Azar to grammar practitioners and believes that "placing specific grammar structures within their larger conceptual framework is more helpful to students than a random, piecemeal approach to explicit grammar teaching" (Azar, 2007). It takes the advantages of both inductive and deductive approaches.

1.3 Beliefs and Classroom Practice

Johnson (1994) suggests that teacher beliefs are neither easy to define nor study because they are not directly observable. What we do know is that teacher beliefs consist of tacitly held assumptions and perceptions about teaching and learning (Kagan, 1992) that they are generally stable and reflect the nature of the instruction the teacher provides to students (Hampton, 1994).The term teacher beliefs refers to the rational underlying what teachers do; they are the explanation for the action ; they are why behind the what;"they are conceptual systems which are functional or useful in explaining some domain of activity" (Nespore, 1987:326).Ertmer (2005) describes beliefs as theories that "over time, become deeply personal that become entrenched well within a teacher's cognitive processes (p. 3). While the term classroom practice is used here to refer to "the actual teaching periods at the schools" (Borg, 2003: 86). …

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