The content of teaching grammar in the EFL context
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №6 - 2014
Author: Kamzina Zhannur , Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
New time and new
conditions of professional activity required not only a revision of the general
methodology, but also the content of the courses in teaching English.
The President of
Kazakhstan N.A. Nazarbaev in his address УNew Kazakhstan in the New WorldФ said: УЕ I propose to begin phased implementation of УUnity of Three LanguagesФ
cultural project. Kazakhstan must be perceived worldwide as a highly educated
country which uses three languages. That is why it is important consistently to
develop Kazakh as the state language, Russian as the language of international
communication and English as the language of successful integration into global
economy and consider it one of the main priorities of the state language
The project УUnity of
three languagesФ implies the creation of conditions for learning English by all
citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan: improving the quality of English
language teaching in all schools, special and higher educational institutions,
which brings certain changes related to the language instruction and
methodology used in educational institutions .
According to the State
Overall Compulsory Educational Standard of 5B011900 УForeign Language: Two Foreign
LanguagesФ 5.04.019-2011, during the first year at the University students of
the major take УEnglish languageФ (A1, A2, B1- levels) course, which forms an
adequate social and educational level of proficiency in a foreign language.
During the first year УEnglish languageФ (A1, A2, B1- levels) course is studied
2 semesters, with the amount of hours in each semester Ц 75 .
This course requires
students to acquire grammatical material on a functional basis with its further
systematization. Linguistic material of the 1st year of study is characterized
by normative correctness and includes the most common grammatical phenomena, to
ensure the practical mastery of oral and written communication within the
limits of the course themes in accordance with the sphere and situations of
communication are covered by A1, A2, B1 levels .
The course content
consists of the following grammatical themes during the first year:
Table 1. The requirements of language means acquisition 
I'm /Are you...?
my / your
he's / she's, his / her
it's ... , Write / Don't write
yes, please / No, thanks
a / an, this / these + hours
the, that / those
Present simple : I/you/we/They
a / an + jobs
How much...? Can I have...?
Present simple: he /she / it
What...? / Where...?
It's + time
Would you like...?
(not) very / quite + adjectives
Possessives its / our / their
Have you got...?
Like / love / hate + (verb) - ing
Could I have...?
No article, After that / then
Once / twice / every, in / on / at + time
Me / him, etc Why? Because ...
There is / are, some / any
Past simple: was / were
There was / were ...
Past simple: go / have
Past simple: regular / irregular
Was born (in / on / at)
Past simple: pronunciation
Could you tell me the way to...?
Present continuous: I'm listening
Present simple or continuous?
Future plans: (se) going to ...
Could I speak to...?
Comparative adjectives + than
Predictions: (be) going to ...
Adverbs: slowly / quickly, etc.
Countable / uncountable nouns
It's / They' re too (big)
Revision: Past simple
Revision: All tenses
Revision: Preview Present perfect: Have
Revision: Tenses, questions
What's the weather like? ItТs...?
Revision present / past, adverbs of
Revision Present simple (routines),
expressions of frequency
Revision past simple (regular /
-Present perfect, past participles
Have you ever...? Present perfect or past
Have to / don't have to (obligation)
Can / can't (permission), you ...
Present continuous (future), invitations:
Would you like to ...?
How long does it take? It takes ...,
prepositions of movement
Past continuous or past simple?
as ... as ...,
revision comparative adjectives
-†††††† first conditional
something / anything / nothing etc
superlative adjectives, article the
Present perfect + for / since, revision
Verb + to + infinitive, would you like to
or like + in a?
So / because, had to / didn't have to
Questions with / without auxiliaries
Verb + ing (= gerund), gerund or
Look or look like?
A lot of/ much etc. Revision countability
Too much (many, not) enough
Present perfect + yet/already/just
Why...? To + Verb / For + Noun
Should / shouldn't (advice / opinion)
Phrasal verbs + object
Echo questions. So / Neither do I.
Uses of will / won't, future forns
Past passive + by
Revision: All tenses Preview: Second
present perfect or past simple
Reflexive pronouns Present perfect continuous
or simple yet, just, already
both, neither, either
Present simple, or continuous
Adverbs of frequency: usually etc. How
often? Once a week, etc.
Quantifiers: a few, a little etc.
Gerund or to + inf.
Question tags / short answers
Used to + infinitive not ... any more /
Make, let, allow to + inf.
Definite article: the
Can / could / be able to
Future forms: will / going to, present
continuous might / may + inf
When / as soon as, etc.
Modals of obligation: must, have to,
Past perfect simple
Defining and non-defining relative
The passive voice
Comparatives and superlatives as ... as
Modals verb: might / could, must, can't
Connectors: although, however...
Reported speech: statements and questions
Reported speech: imperative and requests,
The requirements, mentioned in the State
Overall Compulsory Educational Standard of 5B011900 УForeign language: two
foreign languagesФ 5.04.019-2011, suggest that the graduate of the given specialty
are the following:
- to be able to perform professional
activity properly both psychologically and methodologically aimed at developing
studentsТ ability to learn foreign language as means of intercultural
- to be able to design methodological model
of foreign language communication mastering closed to the conditions of real
communication; to be able to define the category as an object of didactic
learning, synthesizing into single unit Уforeign language-foreign
- to be able to be able to pick out
lingvoculturally and socioculturally oriented authentic teaching materials; to
use standard authentic vocabulary in the classroom; to be able to create and
encourage interest for foreign language acquisition as means of intercultural
- to be able to use technologies, methods
and techniques ensuring the formation of the subject of cross-cultural
communication; to be able to use pedagogical and information technologies efficiently
in the sphere of educational activities .
As a result of studying subjects of core
disciplines the graduate of the given specialty should acquire:
- knowledge and skills to implement all
kinds of professional activities in the field of foreign language education (to
know the main stages of development and current state of linguistic sciences);
- laws and regularities of linguistic
science, its conceptual and categorical apparatus; modern scientific and
theoretical views of linguistic theories;
- basic techniques of linguistic analysis
and description; system of language and speech realization of linguistic
- spelling, orthoepic, grammatical and
stylistic rules of the studied languages .
Students of the given specialty should be
- to interpret critically and creatively
various areas of linguistic theories;
- to analyze the specific language
material; interpret independently linguistic phenomena; compare and identify
similarities and differences corresponding to subsystems of comparing languages
to predict possible interference or transfer; -to apply their knowledge in
speech situations to solve problems of teaching;
- to carry out investigation linguistic
phenomena of foreign and native languages independently .
All of these above-mentioned requirements
to students cannot be achieved without grounded knowledge of English grammar,
because only grammar gives strict rules of writing and speaking correctly.
УThe Longman Dictionary of Contemporary
EnglishФ defines grammar as the rules by which words change their forms and are
combined into sentences .
According to H.D. Brown, grammar is the
system of rules governing the conventional arrangement and relationship of
words in a sentence .
Whitney considered English grammar to be a
description of the usages of the English language by good speakers and writers
of the present day .
Patterson defined that grammar teaches the
laws of language, and the right method of using it in speaking and writing .
K. Lynn Savage supports the view of grammar
as a skill to be taught and examines three roles that underlie the importance
of grammar in ESL education:
1) Grammar as an enabling skill;
2) Grammar as a motivator;
3) Grammar as a means to self-sufficiency
First of all, considering grammar as an
enabling skill K. Lynn Savage states that, though a skill in its own right, grammar
can also be regarded as a necessary УmasterФ skill that enables competence to
develop in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. When grammar
is incorrect or misunderstood in any of these areas, communication may be
Secondly, considering grammar as a motivator,
K. Savage states that the great amounts of students firmly believe that
knowledge of grammar is essential to their being able to acquire a new
language. Students who have studied English in their own countries often equate
language learning with learning grammar. Students who have acquired English
imperfectly in this country through interactions with native speakers also
recognize the importance of grammar, as they may have encountered
misunderstandings because of their grammar errors. It means that if ESL courses
include a strong grammar component in the curriculum, both of these groups of
students may be more motivated to attend or return to classes. As a result, as
many students are motivated to learn grammar, many teachers are strongly motivated
to teach it .
Thirdly, considering grammar as a means to
self-sufficiency, he states that that most students expect teachers to correct
their grammar errors, but a more practical goal is for students to learn to
correct their own mistakes. Grammar instruction assists English learners in
becoming aware of a structure and then continuing to notice it in subsequent
encounters. Once students have internalized the structure through repeated
exposure, they can use this knowledge to monitor their own language use. The
ability to self-correct is particularly desirable for students with job-related
or educational goals .
According to Woods, different types of
grammar illustrate different approaches towards analysis and description of language.
That is why it is essential to explain students which type of grammar they are
He enumerates five different types of
- prescriptive and descriptive grammar,
- traditional grammar,
- phrase structure grammar,
- transformational- generative grammar
- functional - systemic grammar .
In prescriptive grammar the correct use of
language is prescribed by a set of fixed rules. In descriptive grammar language
is constantly changing which means that certain utterances that were considered
incorrect grammatically at one time are now accepted as correct.
Traditional grammar based on the parts of
speech: nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions
and interjections, and they are accepted as a central component of a language
and these parts of speech make up a sentence.
Phrase structure grammar based on the
relationship of words and phrases in a sentence, which helps to support the meanings,
attempting to convey through language. It is usually presented graphically
using substitution tables.
Transformation-generative grammar based on
syntax, which can be generated by means of a system of formal transformational
Functional-systemic grammar based on the
interaction between syntax, semantics and pragmatics, it deals with how people
use language and looks at how language is structured for use, which is constrained
by the social context .
The practical mastery of the elements of
English Grammar is supposed to have been gained by the students at the earlier
stages of tuition in order to bring forth in the students a steady habit of trying
to see into the deeper implications underlying the outward appearances of lingual
correlations bearing on grammar; to teach them to independently improve their
linguistic qualifications through reading and critically appraising the
available works on grammatical language study; to foster their competence in
facing academic controversies concerning problems of grammar.
So, analyzing requirements of the State
Overall Compulsory Educational Standard of 5B011900 УForeign Language: Two
Foreign LanguagesФ 5.04.019-2011 and Basic Work Program in УBasic English
LanguageФ we have come to the conclusion that grammar plays an increasingly
important role at the earlier stages of learning. First of all, grammar is
regarded as a necessary УmasterФ skill that enables competence to develop in
the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, secondly, including a
strong grammar component in ESL courses curriculum is more motivated students
of these groups, thirdly by understanding grammar and the meaning of
grammatical structures students will be able to communicate accurately which
ensure their self-sufficiency.
All above mentioned describes grammarТs
three important roles: grammar as an enabling skill, a motivator and a means of
self efficiency, which underlie the importance of grammar in ESL education.
Also, it is essential to explain students which from five types of grammar
(prescriptive and descriptive, traditional, phrase structure, transformational-
generative and functional Ц systemic) they are taught, which purpose is to
illustrate different approaches of teaching grammar.
1. Konsepsiya razvitiya
obrazovaniya Respubliki Kazakhstan do 2015, Astana 2004
2. GOSO RK 06.08.075 -
2010 po special'nosti 5B011900 - УInostrannyj jazyk: dva inostrannyh jazykaФ.
3. Tipovaja uchebnaja
programma po special'nosti bakalavriata 050119-УInostrannyj jazyk: dva
inostrannyh jazykaФ. Ц Almaty: MON RK, 2007.
4. Longman Dictionary of
Contemporary English 4th Edition (2CD), Pearson ESL 2005.
5. Brown, H. Douglas.
Teaching by Principles: an Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy/ H.
Douglas Brown Ц 2nd ed, 2001 by Eddison Wesley Longman, Inc.-480p.
6. W.D. Whitney Sanskrit
grammar, Oxford University Press, 1950
7. K. Patterson, M.
Harrison Oxford Practice Grammar-Basic, Oxford University Press, USA, 2006
8. K. Lynn Savage.
Grammar matters: Teaching Grammar in Adult ESL programs. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
9. G. Woods English Grammar for Dummies,
Wiley Publishing Inc., 2006
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №6 - 2014