The Role of Grammar Instruction in the Second Language Classroom Essay

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The Role of Grammar Instruction in the
Second Language Classroom
An Annotated Bibliography

Introduction The past twenty years have seen a dramatic shift in language classrooms from a focus on grammar rules and drills to more “communicative” approaches to teaching language. Left behind in the resulting tumult has been the question: Does teaching grammar have any impact on second language learners’ rate of accuracy? Stephen Krashen and others maintain that “comprehensible input” is sufficient for successful language acquisition and so explicit grammar teaching is not needed. Others have challenged this view, arguing that research shows a definite positive effect for grammar instruction. This annotated bibliography will review
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They examined four forms: (a) the use of have vs. be in presentation forms (i.e., “The picture has a boy” vs. “There is a boy in the picture”), (b) the use of the grammatical morphemes plural -s and progressive –ing, (c) adverb placement in noun phrases, and (d) use of appropriate gender in possessive determiners. They found that in classes where there was the most focus on form, either through direct instruction or through the teacher’s reaction to the learners’ incorrect usage, the learners showed greater accuracy in their use of the forms, although the effect was stronger for some structures than others. They conclude that incorporating form-based instruction into a communicative classroom can help improve linguistic performance.

Long, M. (1983). Does second language instruction make a difference? A review of research. TESOL Quarterly, 17, 359-382.
Long examines 12 studies conducted between 1967 and 1980 that compare the efficacy of second language instruction vs. natural exposure to the language. These studies were done with children, adolescents, and adults in both ESL and EFL settings with learners at beginning, intermediate, and advanced proficiency levels. Long summarizes the results of these studies and reinterprets the data, sometimes arriving at different conclusions than those of the original researchers. Under Long’s interpretation, six of these studies show that instruction does help; three show that it does not help; two are