An Investigation into the Development of Young Learners’ Grammatical Competence

Abstract

This study is a small-scale classroom-based action research project which was carried out during my internship in a girls’ primary school in the UAE. It investigates the teaching of grammar, and involved five young EFL learners between the ages of ten and eleven. The focus of this research is on raising young learners’ awareness of grammatical patterns by implementing grammar consciousness-raising activities. Grammar has always been one of the most difficult elements in the English language. Teaching grammar in schools has largely been ignored and teachers have relied on heavy drilling and repetition of structures. Students memorize these structures without understanding their value or their meaning.

The outcomes of my preliminary investigation into the teaching of grammar to these students showed that the type of grammar instruction used by the classroom teacher was explicit instruction. In addition, learners arrived at the rule deductively. By this I mean that a presentation of the rule was provided at the beginning of a lesson, and this was followed by examples in which the rule is applied. Moreover, I realized that the lessons were form-focused, with no focus on meaning, and this is contrary to the communicative approach which suggests that a balance between the two is desirable.

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