Is Traditional Grammar A Waste Of Time?

3184 words - 13 pages

Is traditional grammar a waste of time?The Times for Wednesday 19 January 2005 contained an article entitled "Traditional grammar teaching is waste of time, say academics". Is this what really academics say? If so, are they right?The teaching of grammar in schools has been around for a long time and has consistently been at the centre of debate over the course of history. Recently, The Times for Wednesday 19th January 2005 contained an article entitled "Traditional grammar teaching is waste of time, say academics". My aim in this assignment is to find out what academics really say in regards to the issue concerning grammar teaching. I will predominantly concentrate on the effects of grammar teaching in relation to writing. I will investigate all the available evidence and see if the respective judgments of the academics are justified.I will commence by defining 'grammar' about which The grammar papers (1998:11) in the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) website say "In everyday speech, the word 'grammar' is often used to refer to almost any feature of language structure or usage, including spelling, punctuation and pronunciation, and is frequently associated with notions of correctness. In academic terms, grammar is part of the broader study of language known as linguistics." Brindley (1994:224) says that linguists "see grammar as the way language is structured". He further clarifies "This structure includes the organization of stretches of speech or writing (discourse structure); sentence structure (syntax); how words are made up (morphology); and patterns of sounds and written symbols (phonology and graphology)". More specifically 'traditional grammar' is described by Andrews et al (2004) in their review: 'The effect of grammar teaching (syntax) in English on 5 to 16 year olds' accuracy and quality in written composition' as "Sentence grammars that tend to focus on the internal elements of the sentence, classifying 'parts of speech' and describing (and sometimes prescribing) the relationship between parts of speech."From a historical perspective, the status of grammar in schools has been long debated. Helplin (2005) mentioning the chronological order of the major changes says "Rote learning was the norm until the 1950s, but the tide turned against formal teaching in the 1960s". Furthermore, he says "The conversion of grammar schools to comprehensives in the 1970s accelerated the trend at secondary level". As formal grammar went out of the picture, Barton & Hudson (2002) say a new concept known as 'teaching grammar in context' developed. They claim "this approach assumed that because all pupils were different, they all had different grammatical needs." Nevertheless, they conclude this method was not very successful as it "left pupils without any overarching understanding of grammar, no template upon which to work." In the 1990s Helplin (2005) claims "the pendulum began to swing back" as national curriculum testing at 7, 11 and 14...

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