Knowledge about Language (KaL) is an important part of L1 language education around the world. A controversial part of KaL is grammatical or syntactic knowledge, i.e., knowledge about the form, meaning and use of sentences and phrases. In the current international discourse on L1 grammar teaching, grammar is principally motivated by the desire to enhance students' literacy development, befitting the communicative turn in mother tongue education and following high quality research which has shown that contextualized grammar teaching can impact on students' writing development. However, there are also other potentially meaningful reasons to teach grammar, which remain underresearched and underdiscussed in curriculum discussions: (1) the general importance of language justifies that L1 speakers understand how their language works; (2) grammar teaching provides more insight into the workings of the human mind; (3) grammar teaching can be used to facilitate students' reasoning and stimulate their critical thinking abilities. These reasons for teaching grammar do not necessarily relate to literacy development; rather, they pertain to a general conceptual importance of knowledge about grammar. This paper explores these arguments and argues, partly based on empirical evidence from recent research, that knowledge-related rationales deserve a more prominent place in curriculum discussions about grammar teaching.
L1 grammar teaching worldwide often takes the form of traditional grammar teaching with decontextualized parsing exercises and rules of thumb. Some researchers have proposed enriching such forms of grammar teaching by relating traditional grammatical concepts to underlying metaconcepts from linguistic theory. The merits of such an approach have become apparent in recent intervention studies, but the question remains how teachers perceive such forms of grammar teaching, which is of particular importance for curriculum development. The present study investigated Dutch teachers' beliefs in focus groups and a national survey (N = 127). It is found that Dutch language teachers see important benefits of a metaconceptual approach to grammar teaching, particularly as a means to improve students' grammatical understanding. However, results also indicate that while teachers may see clear pedagogical and conceptual advantages of working based on underlying metaconcepts, their own teaching practice appears to be much more traditional. This discrepancy is explained by assuming that contextual factors have a restraining effect on what teachers can or want to do in reality. Once such contextual factors no longer play a part, teachers' views tend to be much more geared towards a metaconceptual approach. The paper concludes with some implications for future research.
De leraar als vakdidactisch onderzoeker van de eigen praktijk
Intreerede in verkorte vorm uitgesproken bij de aanvaarding van de positie van
lector Vitale Vakdidactiek aan NHL Stenden Hogeschool op vrijdag 15 november 2019
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.