True or false?

Standard

So, today we were given a true or false task. Here are the questions first, with my answers below if you feel like answering them yourself first:

  1. Teaching grammar helps students to read and write in English better?
  2. Standard English is the correct form of the language?
  3. People who use English as a foreign language know more grammar than native speakers?
  4. Local dialects break grammatical rules?
  5. It’s wrong to start a sentence with ‘and’ and ‘but’ or to end sentences with a preposition?
  6. You need good grammar whether you are speaking or writing?
  7. The loss of the apostrophe is an example of how the language is declining?
  8. Skills exercises are effective in teaching grammar?

So, here goes with my answers:

  1. Teaching grammar helps students to read and write in English better? 
    I think it depends on the learner, the context, the purpose and level. It also depends what you mean by ‘teaching grammar’. I’ll take it as meaning explicit grammar teaching. Teaching grammar may be beneficial to all learners, but there are some who have learnt to write certain sentences though not understand the ‘rules’ behind it, much the same as there are billions of native speakers of a particular language who can write, but don’t understand grammar.

    For someone learning business English, explicit teaching may really help them, but for a beginner who isn’t literate in their first language, grammar is cumbersome, and there may be better ways, such as language experience.

    Thinking about literacy learners, the same applies. For some, they expect grammar, and others hear the word verb and crumble. I think it helps learners if it is carefully thought out and appropriate for them and their needs.

  2. Standard English is the correct form of the language?
    It’s easier to direct you here for this one!
  3. People who use English as a foreign language know more grammar than native speakers?
    Again, it depends on what view point you take. For example, what is meant by ‘knowing’ grammar? If it means ‘knowing about grammar’ e.g. whether you can identify tenses, verbs and idioms, then probably the answer is yes. If it means ‘knowing’ grammar and how to use it with little difficulty, then probably not.
  4. Local dialects break grammatical rules?
    If you compare it to Standard English, then yes. Dialects can have their own grammars, and there’s no right and wrong.
  5. It’s wrong to start a sentence with ‘and’ and ‘but’ or to end sentences with a preposition?
    I disagree on these grounds!
  6. You need good grammar whether you are speaking or writing?
    It depends on the context, audience and purpose. Many pidgins and creoles evolved from the need to communicate, and missed lots of grammar out. My feeling is that the purpose of language is to communicate. If you can communicate, be understood, and understand yourself then this is ‘good’ grammar. If I have a learner and they want to progress the levels, then yes, you do need ‘good’ grammar.
  7. The loss of the apostrophe is an example of how the language is declining?
    It depends if you’re a descriptive of prescriptive. I think all languages grow and evolve. I don’t think they ‘decline’. There are enough people who use the apostrophe ‘correctly’, especially via the internet where so much text is written per day. I don’t think it is going anywhere anywhere quickly.
  8. Skills exercises are effective in teaching grammar?
    From coming from an ESOL point of view, I do think this is partially true. Skills exercises can help you to have exposure to a form, meaning and context, and help you to test and re-test yourself. They can help with motivation and I’ve found learners both like (and expect them). In  an adult literacy classroom, I have had little success with worksheets. Some learners like to take them for homework, but we do more individualised work in class.

    As always, let me know your thoughts.

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