Is English grammar really so difficult?
Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia
The role of grammar in foreign language teaching is continually discussed in academic circles, among teachers as well as learners. The article discusses the hypothesis that our learners find English grammar more difficult than it really is. In addition, their need to speak correctly, often imprinted in their minds, tends to create barriers in communication, to lower their self-confidence and hinder them from spontaneous communication. Why is it so and what can be done to prevent these phenomena? The article tackles some possible causes, analysing their psycholinguistic aspects with pedagogical consequences, such as: the balance between the focus on declarative and procedural knowledge; the different position of grammar tasks and diverse explanations of the usage of grammar structures in various textbooks; the impact of some fundamental interlingual differences between Slovak and English languages on learners´ metalinguistic awareness; the transfer of grammar learning strategies from learning Slovak grammar; the lack of ambiguity tolerance; and teachers´ set of beliefs about foreign language teaching and grammar teaching strategies. Some suggestions for pedagogical application are implicitly presented.
Key words: teaching English grammar, teaching / learning strategies, interference, metalinguistic awareness, textbooks, teachers´ beliefs