On Presenting Grammar—Inductive or Deductive ?
Summary:Abstract: Controversies on grammar teaching arise as research into English teaching and learning develop. Quite a lot of teachers or professors think that there is no need to teach grammar in thei.

  • Abstract: Controversies on grammar teaching arise as research into English teaching and learning develop. Quite a lot of teachers or professors think that there is no need to teach grammar in their class. There are also many linguists who believe there is still a need to instruct grammar in our English classes. According to my own experience in primary and middle school, I agree with the latter. I feel that since grammar still plays an important role in language learning, it certainly takes effect in language teaching. Although grammar may mean different things to different people, all teachers present grammar in different ways. There are many kinds of methods of presenting grammar, such as the translation method, natural method, conversation method, monolingual method, sentence pattern, TPR (total physical response), the direct method, communicative method, etc. No matter what they are, these approaches can generally be classified into two approaches—deductive and inductive. A deductive approach starts with the presentation of a rule and is followed by examples in which the rule is applied. An inductive approach starts with some examples from which a rule is inferred. There is no definite answer to which one is better, but some parts of grammar seem to be suitable for one and not the other, and vice-versa, which may be greatly affected by different materials or different students. As English teachers, what we need to do is apply these approaches to our work to find out what works best where. Key words: grammar, inductive, deductive[CLC number]G623[Document code]A[Article ID]1006-2831(2006)11-0025-6
    1. How to teach grammar — deductive or inductive Everyone who has ever learned English must have heard and talked about the word 襣rammar?hundreds of hundreds of times. It plays such an important role in our everyday teaching or learning that no one can avoid discussing it. Research has contributed much to grammar teaching, especially during recent decades. As research into English teaching develop, more and more controversies or arguments on "Grammar teaching"appear. Some people argue that if you want to learn English well, you should never think about grammar. "There is no need in teaching for learning grammar while learning English" some people say. Some think that it is not to learn English but to "learn about"English if you concentrate on grammar. Some people argue that people all over the world speak their own native language without having studied its grammar. Children start to speak before they even know the word "Grammar" so grammar is nothing important at all in learning a language.
    However, there are also many English teachers telling from their own experience that grammar really plays a very important role, perhaps a central one, in teaching or learning a foreign language. Just as it is said, grammar can help you to learn a language more quickly and more efficiently. When you understand the grammar or the system of a language, you can understand many things yourself, without having to ask a teacher or look into the book. Even in Shanghai or Guangzhou, grammar teaching plays a great part in everyday English. Although some teachers don't preach the importance of giving grammar lessons, they, as a matter of fact, do it in their own classroom or after class. They call it their "secret weapon" In some cities, English training is very popular with both clerks and middle school students. For example, The New-oriental Foreign Language School offers grammar classes all the year round, especially in summer, which attracts a great many students. "There is no doubt that a knowledge implicit or explicit of grammatical rules is essential for the mastery of a language."(Penny Ur, a teacher trainer, and author of Grammar Practice Activities) "A sound knowledge of grammar is essential if pupils are going to use English creatively."(Tom Hutchinson, a course-book writer). So you can see "grammar teaching" may mean different things to different people. No matter what you think about it, grammar really has a very strong effect on our learning or teaching English, so I have to admit that we should never say that grammar is nothing. It is something, something we should pay attention to. Then what is grammar? What do we know about the learning of grammar? There are a lot of sayings about its definition, such as: Grammar is conventionally seen as the study of the syntax and morphology of sentences; grammar is the study of linguistic chains and slots; grammar is the study both of the way words are chained together in a particular order, and also of what kinds of words can slot into any one link in the chain; grammar is a process for making a speaker's or writer's meaning clear when contextual information is lacking. Generally speaking, we can accept the idea that grammar is a description of the rules that govern how a language's sentences are formed. It relates closely to sounds, words, sentences, texts as well as meaning, function, rules, structures and so on. Ideas about the learning of grammar have been greatly influenced by the input hypothesis and the notion of intake. Learners receive information about language from a variety of sources in their environment in the classroom. Grammar learning includes noticing, reasoning and hypothesizing, reasoning deductively, analyzing contrastively, translating and transferring. Conclusively, we can say that there are mainly two ways of learning grammar— deductive or inductive. Then how to teach grammar? Or in other words, what approaches do we usually use to present grammar? Since the way that we teach is greatly influenced by the way that we learn, we can judge that there are mainly two different approaches that we can present grammar—deductive or inductive.
    2. A deductive approach A deductive approach starts with the presentation of a rule and is followed by examples in which the rule is applied. This method is generally related to "translation" Since the grammar items can be easily and simply given, it used to be very popular with both teachers and students. Take this lesson plan, in which "going to do"is taught, as an example:Step 1 PresentationT: Today we will learn a new English structure "be going to+do" It refers to doing something in the near future or what will happen soon. Such as:a) I am going to buy some chocolate tomorrow. 明天我打算去买一些巧克力。b) He is going to hold his birthday party next Saturday. 他打算下周六举行生日晚会。c) They are going to travel to Guilin during May Day. 五一期间他们将去桂林旅行。d) We are going to have a new hospital built here. 我们要在这里建一座新的医院。e) There is going to be an English film in our school this evening. 今天晚上我们学校要放一场英语电影。Step 2 Explanation T: Now let me stress clearly about this structure: First, you should remember that it applies to a future plan. Second, the verb "be" should be used in different forms according to its subject, number or tense. Thus there will be many different usages when you apply it, such as: "I am going to do..." "He/She/It is going to do..." "We/You/They are going to do..."
    "I/He/She/It was going to do..."
    "We/You/They were going to do..."etc. Third, you should keep in mind that you should only use a pure verb in the sequence; you can't use any other form. Such mistakes can be seen as follows: I'm going to buying a new car next week. (×) He is going to does some shopping tomorrow. (×)Step 3 Practice: Fill in the blanks using the right form of the verb "be"1) She ___ going to visit her grandma next month.2) They ___ going to plant trees next Wednesday.3) The students in Class 2 ____ going to help the peasants get the apples from the orchard this afternoon.4) Who ___ you going to do the experiment with?5) Lin Tao ___ going to buy a new English dictionary.The Key: 1) is 2) are 3) are 4) are 5) is Step 4 Practice: Multiple Choice1) Who is going to ____ you with your English this Saturday?a) helps b) helped c) help d) helping2) What are you going to _____ this afternoon?a) does b) did c) doing d) do 3) My friend Jerry is going to ____ abroad next semester.a) studying b) study c) studies d) studied4) Are you going to ____ a ring to your mother?a) give b) given c) giving d) gives5) I don誸 know who is going to _____ the floor.a) Sweeping b) sweeped c) sweeps d) sweep Key: 1) c 2) d 3) b 4) a 5) dStep 5 Practice: Translation (from Chinese to English)1) 汤姆星期六下午要去医院看望他的好朋友。2) 今年他们打算载10000棵树。3) 谁将负责这个过程。Key: 1) Tom is going to visit his friend in hospital this Saturday afternoon.2) They are going to plant 10,000 trees this year.3) Who is going to be in charge of this project? Comments: Advantages: From this sample, we can see that the deductive approach to language teaching is traditionally associated with Grammar-Translation. This approach can get straight to the point, and can therefore be time-saving. Many rules—especially rules of form—can be more simply and quickly explained than elicited from examples. So it is preferred by those teachers who are experienced in both languages and many students, especially those whose listening and speaking ability is not good enough to follow the teacher in class if the whole class is given in total English. What's more, it meets many students?expectations about classroom learning, particularly for those learners who have an analytical learning style. It also allows the teacher to deal with language points as they come up, rather than having to anticipate them and prepare for them in advance. In all, it is easily controlled, time-saving and economical. Maybe it is the reason why so many teachers and students still follow this method to learn English. Disadvantages: The disadvantage about the deductive approach is that grammar explanation encourages a teacher-fronted, transmission-style classroom and the students have little chance to practice using English. Secondly, it encourages the belief that learning a language is simply a case of knowing the rules. Little by little, the students will only concentrate on your Chinese explanation and the forms of the language. Thirdly, it is seldom as memorable as other forms of presentation such as demonstration so that although the students know the rules very well, they make mistakes in using it again and again, especially in their oral English.
    3. An inductive approach An inductive approach starts with some examples from which a rule is inferred. Induction, or learning through experience, is seen as the "natural route to learning and is strongly identified with methods of second language instruction. It seems, on the face of it, to be the way one's first language is acquired: simply through exposure to a massive amount of input, the regularities and patterns of the language become evident, independent of conscious study and explicit rule formulation. Modeling itself on first language acquisition, such as the Direct Method, the Natural Approach, or Natural Language Acquisition, which supports a "zero-grammar"position and TPR, is based on the principle that learners learn best when they are wholly engaged (both physically and mentally) in the language learning process. This approach is becoming more and more popular. Take the "subjunctive"as another example. For this lesson the teacher of a class of elementary teenage students is using a conversation to embed examples of 襂 would do ...if ...?to talk about the subjunctive. Step 1 The teacher sits the students in a circle, occupying one seat in the circle himself. He then initiates a conversation along these lines:Step 2 T: Listen, Mary, Mr. Smith would set up a new school here if he had one hundred million dollars. What would you do if you had one hundred dollars?Mary: I visit space by spaceship if I have one hundred million dollars.T: You would visit space by spaceship if you had one hundred million dollars. OK?T: John? What would you do if you had one hundred million dollars?John: I go to the Mediterranean if I had one hundred million dollars.T: You would go to the Mediterranean, right?John: Yes, I would go to the Mediterranean if I had one hundred million dollars. T: John, can you ask the lady beside you what she would do if she had one hundred million dollars?John: Yes. Chris? What would you do if you had one hundred million dollars?Chris: I build, sorry, I would build a new gymnasium here if I had one hundred million dollars.T: Good, going on, next please. Step 3 Chris: Hello, Dick. What would you do if you had one hundred million dollars?Dick: I would go around the world if I had one hundred million dollars.Dick: What would you do if you had one hundred million dollars, Elisabeth?Elisabeth: I would visit the South Pole if I had one hundred million dollars.Step 4 The conversation continues in this vein until most students have been involved. Then the teacher says: T: And me? What about me? (pause)Student A: What would you do if you had one hundred million dollars?T: I would set up an amusement park here for you if I had one hundred million dollars.Student B: What would you do if you build an amusement park?T: What would I do if I built an amusement park?T: I would let all of you have a colorful childhood.Step 5 When the teacher decides that the conversation has run its course, he goes to the board and elicits some questions and answers using "I would "which he writes on the board. For example:

    Mr. Smith would set up a new school here

    if he had one hundred million dollars

    I would visit space by spaceship

    if I had one hundred million dollars

    What would you do

    if you had one hundred million dollars

    Step 6 He then asks students, in pairs, to have a similar conversation. He monitors this, correcting and providing vocabulary where necessary.Step 7 The teacher sets a writing task for homework, which is to write ten sentences about their plans using the subjunctive. If there is enough time, the teacher can invite some students to read out their sentences to the whole class. The class discuss it and the teacher makes any necessary changes.Comments: Here in this example, the teacher tries to offer good chances for the students to practice English. The teacher maintains focus on the meanings that he and the students are jointly constructing, while at the same time nudging students to pay some attention to the form of "I would do if ..." The structure gets thoroughly manipulated, and, at the same time, the conversation achieves a more natural symmetry. So we can see that this kind of approach can improve both accuracy and fluency of production because practice makes perfect. The advantages of an inductive approach are as follows: First, it is attractive. Students are more actively involved in the learning process, rather than being simply passive recipients, so they are likely to be more attentive and more motivated, which is especially suitable for little kids who are very active. Second, it is meaningful. Rules that learners discover for themselves may be more likely to fit their existing mental structures than rules they have been presented with. This in turn will make the rules more meaningful, memorable, and serviceable. Third, it is memorable. The mental effort involved ensures a greater degree of cognitive depth which, again, ensures greater memorability. Fourth, working things out for themselves prepares students for greater self-reliance and is therefore conducive to learner autonomy. The disadvantages of an inductive approach include: First, misleading. The time and energy spent in working out rules may mislead students into believing that rules are the objective of language learning, rather than a means. Second, time-consuming. The time taken to work out a rule may be at the expense of time spent in putting the rule to some sort of productive practice. Moreover, it can place heavy demands on teachers in planning a lesson. Third, inaccurate. Students may hypothesize the wrong rule, or their version of the rule may be either too broad or too narrow in its application: this is especially a danger where there is no overt testing of their hypotheses, either through practical examples, or by eliciting an explicit statement of the rule. Fourth, complicated. An inductive approach frustrates students who, by dint of their personal learning style or their past learning experience (or both), would prefer simply to be told rules. So from the above analysis, we can find that each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages. In order to testify which one is more suitable with our Chinese pupils, we made an experiment in which there are two groups. One is the experimental team; the other is the reference team. Each team has 20 students, who were 11-12 years old and were of similar English levels. I first taught the reference team 襜e going to do?in the deductive approach. After the class, I gave them a small test. I gave them 15 multiple-choice questions, among which 5 is related with the structure of 襜e going to do?and found that 85% of the students can grasp the structure and could do the exercises correctly. Most of the students could also explain why they did the exercise in this or that way. On the other hand, only 79% of the experimental team to whom I taught the structure in the inductive method, could pass the test. They could not explain why they did in this way or that way. They could only feel that they should do it like this or that. Two weeks later, I did another experiment. This time, I found that 80% of the students in the experiment group could still use the structure correctly. By contrast, only 75% of the students in the reference group could still use the structure correctly. Although some students in this group could still remember the structure clearly, they admitted that sometimes they forgot how to apply it in the test. What's more, the students in the experimental group had a better understanding of the structure and could grasp it from listening while the reference group could not.
    4. Conclusion Judging from our own experience, the deductive approach is more beloved by senior students who want to be told the rules directly so that they can save some time to do their homework. They prefer to grasp the rules and then to apply them to doing exercises. Maybe this kind of cognitive style has some relation with the way they learn science, which needs logical thinking, exploring, abstraction and so on. And the primary students prefer inductive learning because their unconscious memory plays the largest part in their learning. And they also actively speak in English class. What's more, enough examples may impress them clearly while a general conclusion will not. We know that grammar is important to us for learning English. But as we know, grammar may be presented in different ways. At the moment we don't have enough evidence to define which one is better as different grades of pupils may prefer different methods. That's because our mental processes develop differently at different stages. Different kinds of learning styles and different thinking manners also influence their interest. As an English teacher, what we need to do is to find a better way for them to learn, to practice and to remember. We cannot say definitely that this one must be better than that one, but we may judge that this one may be more suitable for this class of students while that one is not. Moreover, students of different levels may prefer different approaches. Students in some less developed areas, who might have very little chance to practice their oral English may find the deductive ways better, while students in some advanced cities may find inductive ways very suitable for them. Those who want to improve their listening and speaking abilities rapidly in a short time will of course think inductive better. So what is the best way to present grammar? The answer is: it should be the way that is most suitable for your pupils to help them improve their English easily and rapidly. Last but not least, interest plays a big part. No matter what approach you choose, it must fit the students?interest. If not, you are sure to fail.
    ReferencesChristopher Brumfit & Jayne Moon & Ray Tongue. Teaching English to Children[M], 1995: 18-33.David Nunan. Second Language Teaching and Learning[M], 1999: 96-101.David Nunan. Practical English Language Teaching[M]. Contemporary, 2003: 153-173. Jeremy Harmer. The Practice of English Language Teaching[M], 2003: 12-16. Michael H. Long & Jack C. Richards. Methodology in TESOL A Book of Reading[M], 1987: 279-305.Scott Thornbury. How to Teach Grammar[M]. 世界知识出版社, 2003(10):108-112.
Now,0 person review it. View all reviews
    Name: * Optional, keeping blank means that published by anonymous.
Remain Words:  * Post It By Ctrl + Enter.
            »»I will to announce
Related Article
Top List
By Users
Latest Article
Partners: English Club Domain History biz Global Website Library dow3 Yellow Pages Japan Website English Language Learning Online blank  More»
Home | About us | Sitemap | Partners | Join Now | Link | Contact | Bookmark it
2004-2020 英语学习乐园 闽ICP备14009949号-28