Investigating English Discourse: Language, Literacy and Literature

By Ronald Carter | Go to book overview

2

THE NEW GRAMMAR TEACHING

1 INTRODUCTION

This chapter explores some recent developments in the study and teaching of English grammar. I argue that the entirely justifiable grounds for the rejection of old-style grammar teaching should not be allowed to prevent appraisal of new-style grammar teaching. New-style grammar is functionally oriented, related to the study of texts and responsive to social purposes. It provides a basis for developing in students of English an awareness of and knowledge about language which can be both rich and motivating as well as relevant to the main parameters of an English curriculum. The chapter makes particular reference to the National Curriculum for English for pupils aged 5-16 in schools in England and Wales but it is hoped that its arguments are also more widely generalisable.


1.1 What was grammar teaching?

The following example from an O level GCE paper (1961) demonstrates clearly what kind of grammatical knowledge was required from school children and what view of the learning process was enshrined in the English curriculum at that time:

Leaving childhood behind, I soon lost this desire to possess a goldfish. It is difficult to persuade oneself that a goldfish is happy and as soon as we have begun to doubt that some poor creature enjoys living with us we can take no pleasure in its company.Using a new line to each, select one example from the above passage of each of the following:
(i) an infinitive used as the direct object of a verb
(ii) an infinitive used in apposition to a pronoun
(iii) a gerund
(iv) a present participle
(v) a past participle
(vi) an adjective used predicatively (i.e. as a complement)

-19-

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