An Open Letter to Ian Parker
Thank you Ian for taking time to share your views here.
I hope teachers and folks reading this post check your link out. Even if some of it is incomprehensible to most of us it is NOT necessary to fathom the depths of the entire research details, only how knowledge about the process of Language Acquisition is used by you is what should be relevant for Language Teachers, and it would atleast give people some idea as to whats going on.
About how important it is to understand HOW language works…especially for a learner, if not in depth atleast the generally and the foundation of such a study ought to be laid down right when it makes a lasting impression on children and in a way that matters and even aids the process of language acquisition : I do believe that grammar ought to be taught in school.
I think a lot of teachers, trainers, syllabus framers and parents would agree that the way we deal with Grammar and think about it has to change at the school level itself. Don’t we all know that children do not become something great one fine morning. Their hard disk keeps processing information and how they relate to the world around at each and every stage of their lives. A lot of important impressions become the seed for a decision later on in life and they draw on the memory of earlier days :On how it was and How I FELT IT SHOULD be. And A GREAT RESEARCHER or A scientist is born. So what we teach them at school and ‘how’ we do it is important I think.
I hope what Ian says in his comment and an exploration of these sites, the links to which I have given below, and his own site, provides an additional philip to the work some people have started here lately in the way languages are taught. I mean in Ahmedabad.
Also, owing to many international schools here, offering the International Baccalaureate Course, Teachers have had to deal with a part of curriculum called the TOK – Theory Of Knowledge. Hence this discussion might make sense to a lot of people who have to design a lesson on Language Acquisition as an Idea or Behaviour.
I am a High School ESL Teacher living and teaching in India, where people speak various languages – often a different language within a span of, say, a hundred kms. Every state speaks a different language and lately as I moved West from the East of the country I found myself with a Language Handicap. It has been a struggle to navigate my way along in a city where every public sign is written in something that looks like a picture to ME…and to think that I like any average, common Indian speak four different languages including English!!I can read write speak in all four easily. But here in Gujarat, am lost. And have the luck to watch me picking up another language. It’s interesting how I often use the others to figure out rules in this one and yes, I am constantly looking for rules, so I become independent, so I don’t have to mug up expressions I might need, to communicate.
English is THE ONE common language we have in this country. Yet English Language Teaching continues in a very slip-shod, unsystematic way, especially what bugs one is the extremely SLOW dynamics of information semination across domains and borders. What becomes twenty years old in the West might be what percolates down to us via some enterprising individual as “the latest”. The Government has no ‘policy’ as such it seems and I have been around for nearly fourteen years now.
I hope we get some useful insight into how important Grammar is to Language Teaching through inputs from people who care and share my angst against the unsystematic and utterly unimaginative Language-Teaching-Learning practices we blindly carry on with ( and I am NOT just talking about English or ESL/EFL).
I propose We teach Grammar. Like they used to. Every good web-designer worth their salt know ‘code’. Infact, the wizards would tell you code is poetry ! What code is to a web-designer, grammar is to whoever uses it all the time!! 🙂
Introduction to Ian Parker : A Brief Bio in His Own Words
I am a retired scientist. I gained my PhD in theoretical Solid State Physics from the University of Sussex (England) in 1969. I have worked most of my life in Industry. I have a strong interest in Artificial Intelligence and am a regular contributor to the usergroup “Creating Artificial Intelligence” I speak fluent German and French and have some knowledge of Spanish.
He blogs here: http://ipai.blogspot.com/ and have Guest Written here: http://www.paperoftheweek.com/2007/04/18/guest-contributor-ian-parker/