FC Grammar: Lesson 1


Grammar: Lesson 1



Hello, My name is Rafael Salaberry. I am a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas in Austin. I’m also the director of the language program in Spanish and Portuguese, and I oversee the work of about one hundred instructors in our program. In this module, I focus on the teaching amd learning of grammar. The main points I will try to make in this class are: One, that the explicit analysis of grammar is beneficial for second language learning. Two, that the analysis of language data, and in particular the learner’s own production, is essential for students to reconceptualize grammar in the L2. And finally, three, that the most effective way of teaching grammar is the one that makes use of the full use of options of an inductive-deductive continuum of analysis.


1 Definitions of Grammar
Review of various definitions of grammar in order to identify the objective of teaching grammar. Our target definition of grammar turns out to be highly contextualized.
2 Elements of Grammar Instruction
Analysis of some findings from research on grammar teaching and possible pedagogical applications.
3 Inductive Approaches to Teaching Grammar
The potential advantages of an inductive approach that makes use of the whole range of options on the deductive-inductive continuum.
4 Implementing a Guided Induction Approach
Reviews the main features of activities that incorporate inductive approaches, and shows activities in practice.
In this lesson, I ask students to review their definitions of grammar. The main problem we have to define grammar is how to circumscribe it. For instance, information about semantics and pragmatics can broaden our definition. And as it turns out, grammar is highly contextualized. To make this point clear, we analyze two lesson plans that introduce grammatical structures associated with recipes.
Before addressing grammar instruction, there must be a discussion about the definition of grammar. The following are three common definitions.
1. The study of how words and their component parts combine to form sentences.
2. The written official rules, and unwritten common-knowledge rules, governing how words are put together to form a written and spoken language.
3. The branch of linguistics that deals with syntax and morphology (and sometimes semantics).
What do you see missing from these definitions? Consider whether spoken language should have a place in the definition of grammar. Can a definition of grammar be isolated from a definition of language?

An Inclusive Definition of Grammar

For the purposes of this course, let us consider a definition of grammar that is included within a framework of language.


The instructor describes Bachman’s model of language.
Duration: 01:32

According to this language model, grammar and pragmatics (the appropriate use of spoken language) are inextricably linked. Consider how embracing this model would change grammar instruction in your language classroom.


Oral vs. Written Language

Let us now explore grammar in the context of oral versus written language.
Analyze Two Grammar Lessons
Take a few minutes to read through these lesson plans, designed to introduce the use of commands in Spanish.
• What are the main differences between them?
• Which one would you use in class and why?
• Which definition of grammar is implicit in each one of these two lesson plans?

Lesson Plan 1
Lesson Plan 2

Listen to the comments on the characteristics of Lesson Plans 1 and 2. What specific features of these lesson plans do they identify in detail? Do you agree with their analysis?


A discussion about the lesson plans.
Duration: 03:09

After analyzing the two lesson plans, the language teachers felt that Lesson Plan 1 was geared for written language only, while Lesson plan 2 also included oral language instruction.
Think about the distinction between oral and written language instruction in the context of grammar.

Follow-up on the lesson plan discussion.
Duration: 02:38

Grammatical Structures in Oral Language

In the following segment, the instructor mentions a variety of grammatical structures typically used in oral language.
Which grammatical structures are used in oral language? Watch the video segment to confirm your answer.
1. impersonal se (se cortan …)
2. first person singular (corto …)
3. first person plural (cortamos …)
4. second person singular (cortas …)
5. second person plural (cortan …)
6. Infinitive (cortar …)
7. Formal commands (corte … )


Grammatical structures used in oral language.
Duration: 00:56

A Contextualized Definition

Does the disconnection between oral and written language extend to grammatical topics other than the use of the subjunctive?
Make a list of some possible examples. Then, watch the following segment for a description of one particular example.


Another example of the disconnect between oral and written language.
Duration: 02:15

Revising the Definition of Grammar

There are many contextual factors that determine how grammar is defined. Let us consider how the definition could be revised as a result of these factors.


Revising the definition of grammar.
Duration: 01:03

Contextual factors that are part of a definition of language:

1. Mode (e.g., written, oral, by phone, by email)
2. Interlocutors (e.g., age, social class, level of education)
3. Regional variation (e.g., countries, localities)
4. Register (e.g., formal, informal, personal)
5. Genre (e.g,, scientific, journalistic, debate)
6. Physical-temporal context (e.g., at the bus station, in the morning on a weekday)
7. Purpose of communication (e.g., to convince, to describe, to chat)
Select one of the contextual factors mentioned in the lecture (other than the oral-written



[Module Instructor Rafael Salaberry]. 2010. [Grammar]. In Foreign Language Teaching Methods. Carl Blyth, Editor. Texas Language Technology Center, University of Texas at Austin. http://coerll.utexas.edu

The material is provided free of charge for those that wish to study it.

How ever a no obligation  exam is available at the end of this module.