Attitudes towards Grammar Teaching : According to One Czech and Five Swedish Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

University essay from Högskolan i Halmstad/Sektionen för humaniora (HUM)

Abstract:

The principal aim of this study was to investigate what grammar is taught by Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in both Swedish compulsory school (years 6-9) and upper secondary school (gymnasiet), how it is taught and why. Further questions investigated what research TESOL base their teaching on, what their attitudes are in relation to the relevant curriculum, and what research into grammar teaching (e.g. approaches and methods) has revealed. The study also examined the Swedish National Agency of Education’s views on grammar teaching.

Six interviews were conducted with five teachers of English to speakers of other languages working in Swedish schools, and one Czech teacher of English to speakers of other languages working at an international school. The findings were evaluated against research into grammar teaching.

Although the Swedish National Agency of Education recommends that school years 6-9 should include an explicit focus on grammar, it does not specify exactly what should be taught. At upper secondary level, teaching grammar is not mentioned at all in the main syllabus. As the only reference to it is buried in the accompanying detailed explanatory notes, teachers tend to interpret the English syllabus differently. Consequently, the syllabus does not encourage equal educational opportunities.

Despite the Agency’s vague recommendations, five out of the six teachers in this study do teach grammar and believe it to be a key to language learning. However, the methods used by the five Swedish teachers in this study do not appear to be research informed, and three of them rely heavily on the textbook producers’ choice of grammatical items to focus on. On the other hand, the teacher in the international school clearly uses methods that are research informed. One of the problems appears to be that the teachers in Sweden do not have easy access to current research findings that are comprehensive and non-conflicting, neither during their time at university nor in their working life.

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