An Open Letter To Ian Parker
Thank you Ian for taking time to post your view on the subject in this post.
I hope teachers and anybody reading this post check your link out. Even if we do not comprehend all of what is written there, (I don’t, not ‘all’ of it, but it is NOT necessary to delve into research details), only, how the learning of the process of Language Acquisition is used by you is what is relevant for me as Language Teacher, at least, and it would give people some idea as to whats going on: how important it is to understand HOW language works…if not in depth atleast the foundation ought to be laid down right when it makes a lasting impression on children and in a way that matters and aids the process : 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. 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 had 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 very important.
I hope what Ian says in his comment and an exploration of these sites, 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.
Yet, here in Gujarat, am lost. And have the luck to watch me picking up another language. It’s interesting, how I often use the other languages I already know, to figure out rules in this one and yes, I am constantly looking for rules, so I become more 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 insemination 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 have here ( and I am NOT just talking about English or ESL/EFL).
I Advocate We teach Grammar.
Every web-designer worth his salt knows ‘code’. In fact, the wizards would tell you code is poetry . What code is to a web-designer, grammar is to whoever uses language all the time!! 🙂
Well, technically language is the code. But for my purpose I took the liberty of consigning that status to Grammar, which is basically the conventions or codification of the conventions on the basis of which a language is used to make sense. Hope nobody minds it that much, in context, where I am preaching teaching Grammar again, but in a way that is in keeping with contemporary understanding of language and how it works.
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.