It is useful after doing this to be able to help the TEFL students to get as full a picture of the target language as possible, in all its forms.
Most students, especially adults, like to have an exhaustive scheme in their head (or on paper) as a kind of reference and they find it comforting, giving them a sense of control. In the early days of learning a structure, grammar is useful to help us if we get stuck. Language has predictable structure, and it is definitely to the students’ benefit if they can have this resource to call on when in doubt. Unfortunately, it can be demoralising when the ‘rule’ all too frequently has irregularities, but the up side to the irregularities of language is that we TEFL teachers have plenty more to do!
All this said, it is important to point out that grammar as an end in itself is relatively useless. Remember it serves as scaffolding, supporting the fledgling growth of linguistic expression by offering a reference point, only until it can be abandoned as the student becomes capable of freely expressing themselves with ease.
For communicative TEFL teachers grammar offers a half-way house, a crutch to help students get free.
Many teachers value grammar highly, maybe subconsciously because it gives them a sense of security too. But this should not stop us seeing the wood for the trees. Our goal is communicative competence, and if a student can parse a sentence into its minutest detail but is unable to politely ask for the butter at breakfast, then we haven’t really complied with our aim.
Posted on May 19th, 2017