Friday, 6 April 2012

Language World 2012: Grammar and communication? Friends-not foes, Martine Pillette

" La musique a besoin de solfège comme la parole a besoin de grammaire" Eric Orsenna
Historically, grammar went out of favour after the demise of O Level. The National Curriculum tried to define a recommended approach to grammar to include communication and knowledge about how the language works.
I agree with Martine Pillette that grammar should be FOR communication and presented as a tool, not as a problem. Students should be given the opportunity to find out about structures on their own, compare with English. Although it can be very challenging, teaching the grammatical language in Target Language helps sustain Target Language use in the classroom-and much of the grammatical terminology is very similar between French/ Spanish and English.
1.       Context
Grammar should be taught in context. Ensure there is a clear link between the topic and the grammar point taught e.g. The imperfect- what for? Where from? Why now?
It is better still if you can do some comprehension  work on a specific grammar point as the  grammar point will be emerging from a much more natural context.
“Little and often” context-led approach works better.
2.       Grammar practice
It is best to integrate all skills when practising a specific grammar point. Listening and speaking really have to come first. Reading and writing can be used to consolidate.
Negatives- students to repeat the negatives
Comparatives- improvise and ask for a personal opinion eg. Adele est plus grande que Kylie.
Verbal tennis affirmative/ negative sentences
3.       Syntax: "Un mot n'est rien sans sa phrase"
Beyond words and phrases, grammar is not just morphology (endings), its use at sentence level is what makes a difference.
Guess the word before
........................................................le soir?
Oral jigsaw sentences
Listen and repeat bits of sentences e.g. Radio, à la radio, j'entends ....
Creating their own sentences provide students with opportunities for creativity and language manipulation.
High frequency language is not just nouns. It is important for students to be aware of that-verbs are the power words.
4. Breaking down barriers between grammar points
J'aime je peux je dois je veux je voudrais je vais je pourrais je devrais
breaking down barriers - creating links with communicative functions
Verbs of likes and dislikes to be+ adj, variety of adverbs, comparative phrases, link words such as because/ but/ when/ it/ for example
Link with new OfSTED and GCSE with its emphasis on developing the students’ linguistic range.


Steve Smith said...

Yes. All makes sense. A little surprising we still need to be reminded of this maybe? This should be embedded in all MFL teacher training.

Isabelle Jones said...

You would be surprised... The session was not so much about the what but the how and yes all this should be embeded in all MFL teacher training!!