The Computer as a Tool for Teaching Grammar: The Program Grampol-Gramatyka Polska*

By Tambor, Jolanta | Canadian Slavonic Papers, March-June 2004 | Go to article overview

The Computer as a Tool for Teaching Grammar: The Program Grampol-Gramatyka Polska*


Tambor, Jolanta, Canadian Slavonic Papers


ABSTRACT:

This is a detailed description of the computer program Grampol ver. 3.0 for Windows, which was designed as an aid in teaching Polish to adult students, as well as non-native speakers of Polish who wish to grasp the rules of grammar. The program covers the areas of phonetics, spelling, word formation, inflection and syntax. The program's lessons are the most important aspect of Grampol. They address the peculiarities of Polish and its most difficult grammar rules, providing students with an effective tool for analysis and synthesis of oral and/or written texts.

Knowledge of grammatical rules is absolutely necessary for mastering foreign languages and, above all, inflected languages. More so than in the case of positional languages, ignorance of grammatical rules seriously hinders effective communication. Computer programs can be very beneficial when teaching grammar rules, because they have the potential of motivating students by making the material more accessible. This is especially true when there are many grammatical forms, which must be simply memorized. In such cases, the availability of grammatical rules in a computer program can facilitate learning to speak a foreign language fluently and naturally. In the case of highly computerized communities the aid of computers can attract young people who otherwise might not be interested in learning a foreign language.

The most recent achievement of the School of Polish Language and Culture at the University of Silesia is the computer program Grampol ver. 3.0 for Windows. This program seeks to enhance the study of Polish by helping learners to master some peculiarities of its grammar. For example, it helps learners understand the various forms of the same lexeme, which are pronounced and spelled so differently from the base (i.e., citation) form that it is impossible to detect a relationship between one and the other. Examples may be: ciqc - tne, trzec - tart, dzien - dnia, tydzien - tygodnia, as well as suppletory topics: festem - sq - bcdzie - byt.

The Grampol program contains exercise sets comprised of lessons, comprehension tests, as well as review of the material. The language of instruction is Polish because the program was prepared as an aid for learning the language in a classroom setting. Students wishing to use the program on their own should already be familiar with the basics of the Polish language. Enclosed within the package is a guide for teachers and students, which includes technical information concerning the set-up and running of the program, information regarding its practical uses as well as a description of the content (index of exercise sets). In the brochure there is also a short section on grammar, which seeks to explain particular aspects of the Polish language. Apart from information that concerns descriptive grammar and provides a synchronie overview of Polish, there is also concise information regarding its historical grammar that offers a diachronic perspective which allows students to understand how and why Polish grammar developed the way it did.

Grampol contains 569 exercise sets, each consisting often lessons and tests. The following areas are represented: phonetics and spelling; word formation; inflection; and syntax. Within each area attention is focused on the most problematic aspects about learning Polish. Elements of language instruction often overlap and mix within the exercises. This is inevitable within a natural language in which each element is a complete unit that takes into account an external form (phonetics in speech and spelling in writing) and the function it fulfils in generating the text (inflection, syntax). Inasmuch as Polish is an inflectional language, all phonetics, word formations and lexical matters are presented in relation to inflection. It becomes necessary, then, to show the reasons for choosing particular aspects from the language areas.

The spelling/phonetic section of the program contains exercises derived mainly from the scope of language variances that pose obstacles both in speaking and writing (examples may be found in the introduction). …

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