Perspectives on Spoken Grammar

Perspectives on Spoken Grammar

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  • Date Submitted: 11/23/2010 9:04 AM
  • Category: English
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Perspectives on Spoken Grammar
Christine Goh

English language teachers’ opinions on the pedagogic relevance of spoken grammar are beginning to be reported, yet the voices of teachers in East Asia are rarely heard. In this article, the views of teachers from China and Singapore expressed in an online discussion are compared. The discussion, which was part of a taught postgraduate course, focused on the usefulness of British spoken grammar norms and the potential value of spoken grammar knowledge for language learners. There is a broad consensus of opinion about its importance for raising learners’ language awareness, but Chinese and Singaporean teachers generally had different attitudes to native speaker norms, while opinions on some pedagogical issues vary more at the individual level. The similarities and differences are attributed to the teachers’ sociolinguistic concerns, understanding of learner needs, and beliefs about grammar that are influenced by the written language. The implications of these teacher perspectives for teacher education are highlighted.

Many academic papers have been published on spoken grammar, and the special features of speech have recently been included in several English grammars. While there is
general recognition that language teaching should take account of the difference between spoken and written language, the pedagogic relevance of spoken grammar is still a matter of much discussion. McCarthy and Carter argue its importance to language teaching as follows:
Language pedagogy that claims to support the teaching and learning of speaking skills does itself a disservice if it ignores what we know about the spoken language. Whatever else may be the result of imaginative methodologies for eliciting spoken language in the second language classroom, there can be little hope for a natural spoken output on the part of language learners if the input is stubbornly rooted in models that owe their origin and shape to the...

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