Implicit and Explicit Grammar: An Empirical Study

University of York University of Munich
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Foreign language learners are commonly taught explicit rules ofgrammar, but often fail to apply them when confronted with communicative tasks. How well ha ve they learnt the rules ? Do they recognize where they are to be applied ? A re they better at some rules than others? Above all, how is getting the language right related to explicit rule knowledge ? Twelve errors commonly committed by German pupils performing communicative tasks in English were put before 300 German learners of English at different levels. They were asked to state the rules they believed had been transgressed and to correct the errors. A peer group of 50 native speakers of English was given the same test. The learners' ability to state relevant rules and supply appropriate corrections for the errors is examined with reference to some of the assumptions and expectations that lie behind explicit grammar teaching.

Whilst the aims of language teaching in schools have become more communicative and its content more practical,1 teachers appear to have lost none of their faith in the value of grammar teaching.2 The 'language teaching controversy' (Piller 1978), the 'code-communication dilemma' (Stern 1983), and 'acquisition vs. learning' (Krashen 1981) are considered by teachers, if at all, as debates between theoreticians remote from the practicalities of the classroom. Teachers are more likely to talk about the balance between 'accuracy' and 'fluency', and if there has been some shift in the direction of fluency, it is perhaps less to be attributed to theoretical reasons than to practical ones such as the extension of language teaching to a wider range of ability, where too cognitive an approach proves inappropriate. This is not to criticize language teachers for not keeping abreast of developments. Scepticism of new theories is probably a sound stance, since the applied linguists are unable to agree on how languages are acquired. There are those, like Dulay, Burt, and Krashen (1982), who claim that direct teaching has little impact on the learner's built-in syllabus. Felix (1987:419) goes so far as to maintain: 'Sprachen kann man zwar lernen, aber sie konnen im strikten Sinne nicht gelehrt werden' (Languages can certainly be learnt, but they cannot, strictly speaking, be taught). Others would agree with Ellis (1985:229) that 'to deny that instruction'3 can help learners to acquire a L2 is not only counterintuitive, but contrary to the personal experience of countless teachers and students'. There is certainly no general support for the position adopted by Krashen, that 'conscious learning is only available as a Monitor' (1981:4) to
Applied Linguistics, Vol. 13, No. 2 ©Oxford University Press 1992



modify an utterance after it has been initiated by the unconscious 'acquired' system (cf. Hulstijn and Hulstijn 1984; Sorace 1985; Faerch 1986; Rutherford 1987; McLaughlin 1988). The distinction in cognitive psychology between 'declarative knowledge' (knowing that) and 'procedural knowledge' (knowing how) (Anderson 1980) lies at the basis of a great deal of discussion of the mental grammar, cf., for example, Bialystok (1979) and Faerch (1986) on implicit and explicit grammatical knowledge; Bialystok (1982) on the relationship between knowing and using linguistic forms; Faerch and Kasper (1984) on rules and procedures; and Bialystok and Sharwood Smith (1985) on the learner's linguistic knowledge and control of that knowledge in real-time language processing. Formal grammar teaching and learning perhaps satisfy a human drive to impose order on the apparent chaos of natural language. Given that teachers seem to want to give, and learners to be given, formal instruction in L2, the question of whether it helps is perhaps not the only one that should be asked. It is important also to know how well learners learn the rules that teachers teach, if they learn some better than others, whether they recognize when to use them and how successful they are in applying them. The purpose of this article is to seek some answers to these questions.

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Since 1979, the language-teacher-training departments of the universities of Munich and York4 have built up a joint corpus of 'learner language'. The learners are school pupils in French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Swedish secondary schools at beginners', intermediate, and advanced levels. The corpus consists currently of over 5,000 samples of performance in English as a foreign language, on oral and written communicative tasks and grammar and vocabulary tests. These foreign language samples are complemented by native language samples, produced by peer groups in English schools performing the same tasks. The data have been analysed from different points of view.5 An earlier paper (Hecht and Green 198 9b) looked at the grammatical competence and performance of learners and native speakers. Competence was interpreted as the degree of accuracy achieved by learners when their attention was focused on form, and performance as the degree of accuracy achieved when the focus was on the transmission of meaning. It was found that whilst the learners had achieved a good level of competence, there was a sharp fall-off from competence to performance. A comparable, group of native speakers, on the other hand, showed only a negligible fall-off. To paraphrase Ellis (1985:197), the native speakers were much better at 'performing their competence' than the learners. One might argue, with Krashen, that the learners had recourse to two different grammatical systems in the two tasks. In the performance task, where the focus was on content, they might be supposed to have drawn largely on acquired (implicit) grammar, whereas in the competence task, where their attention was drawn to form, they may have monitored their production and



corrected it where necessary with the help of learned (explicit) rules (Krashen 1981). That argument would have to remain purely speculative, since the competence task did not ask for any rules to be expressed. However, the syllabus the learners were following and the textbooks they were using make it clear that they had been taught explicit rules for all the areas of grammar that the two types of task called upon.6 In the task which focused on form, therefore, the learners might well have referred to explicit rules, either to produce or to check the answers they gave. If that was the case and the learners were indeed bringing conscious rules into play, then it would be interesting to take a look at the rules themselves, and not just the product of them, by asking learners to make explicit the rules they were using—or at least thought they were using. That is the aim of the present investigation.

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A test was devised (see Appendix) in which the testees were shown twelve errors and asked to offer explanations or rules that would enable someone making those errors to understand and correct them. They were also asked themselves to provide correct versions. The errors were chosen according to two criteria. Firstly, they were errors that had occurred frequently in two earlier communicative tasks—a letter to a pen-friend and an oral report of an incident. Secondly, they were infringements of rules that had been taught as part of the syllabus of all the learners who committed them. The errors were provided with sufficient context to ensure that competent speakers of English would be in no doubt about the correct versions and underlined so that the testees should not tamper with error-free portions of the text. The test was given to 300 German learners of English and 50 native English pupils. The German learners had had from three to twelve years of exposure to formal teaching of English as a foreign language. They were mainly school pupils but a group of university students of English was included. At the intermediate levels, all three school types of the tripartite German secondary school system were represented—Gymnasium, Realschule, and Hauptschule.7 The English pupils were comparable in age to the intermediate-level German pupils and were drawn from a comprehensive school and an independent school. Table 1 gives a breakdown of the testees. Table 2 gives an outline of the content of the test, showing only the incorrect portion of each test item together with its correction and a brief statement of the grammatical generalization. Whilst the corrections could be marked objectively—the only permissible variation lying in the choice of full or contracted forms—judging whether a rule was correctly formulated involved a certain amount of subjectivity. (In the examples which follow, the rules have been translated from German.)



Table 1: Breakdown oftestees by experience and school type
German school beginners intermediate : advanced 3-4* Gymnasium Realschule Hauptschule Totals * years of English 50 5-6* 50 50 50 150 8-9* 50 German university 11-12* 50 50 English pupils 3rd/4th year secondary

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Table 2: Outline content of the test
Item 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Incorrect text lives my aunt I've played I show takes not like to ride I know something careful was coming smoked man which an policeman Correction my aunt lives I played I (wi)ll show doesn't take like riding I (ha)ve known anything carefully came was smoking man who a policeman Generalization S-P in declarative sentences preterite for focus on time of action in past verb marked to show futurity do-periphrasis with not gerund for general liking perfect to link past with present any with negation adverb form usually marked simple form for unmarked aspect progressive form to mark aspect relative who for persons a-form of indefinite article before consonants

Firstly, an accurate rule might be expressed in more or less technical language, for example, (item 11): Relative pronouns referring to a person and in the nominative have the form who or that. People are expressed by who. Secondly, the metalanguage might be partly inaccurate without impairing the validity of the rule, for example, (item 12): a if the subject does not begin with a vowel, an if the subject begins with a vowel. Thirdly, the rule might be more or less general, for example, (item 7): For questions and negation the some of a declarative sentence becomes any. we won't: negation! anything. Fourthly, the rule might be correct but not applicable to the item, for example, (item 7): In questions any is required.



Fifthly, the rule might be expressed as a rule of thumb, well known to German pupils and teachers but not obvious to an outsider without expansion, for example, (item 1): SPO. (= subject, predicate, object) Sixthly, the rule might express the essential concept, and be associated with a correct correction, but contain a technical flaw (or slip), for example, (item 2): An action completed in the past is expressed by present tense. Lastly, the essential concept might appear to have been grasped even though the correction was incorrect, for example, (item 6): Because he knows him now and knew him before, (correction = I'm knowing) Other variations are, of course, possible. The decision to accept an individual learner's rule as correct or incorrect was arrived at independently by two judges after discussion of the general principles. If they disagreed, a third judge arbitrated. The end result was a liberal view of what constituted a correct rule. Thus, all the above examples except the fourth one were treated as correct rules in the specific contexts for which they were formulated.
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When teachers teach learners formally the grammar of a foreign language, and when learners ask to be taught it, they are making certain assumptions, even if they do not necessarily make them explicit. The fundamental assumption is that it will help the learners to 'get the language right'. Fluency may well, and probably does, come from elsewhere— from some form of practice, no doubt. But if learners are to get beyond the category that Randall Jones called 'fluent but lousy',8 it is felt that they will need to formalize the regularities of the language. It is further assumed that the complex mechanisms of language can be reduced to learnable formulae with identifiable spheres of application. However, the ability to 'understand' such rules is probably felt to be linked to the degree of cognitive sophistication of learners. If these assumptions are justified, they lead to certain expectations about how learners should perform on our test. 1. Since the rules applicable to our errors are commonly taught, they might be expected also to have been learnt, at least by a majority of learners. 2. They should have been learnt better by the more able learners and, possibly, also by the more experienced. 3. If learners have a viable rule available, they should be able to produce a correct correction. 4. Conversely, if they do not have a viable rule, they should largely be unable to produce a correct correction.



Some other reasonable expectations might be the following. 5. As some rules are more straightforward than others, the success rate of individual rules should vary. 6. Native speakers, if they are taught rules at all about their language, are taught rules of a fundamentally different kind from those taught to foreign language learners.9 They should therefore have a lower success rate than the German learners in formulating correct rules. 7. On the other hand, native speakers should be able to correct all the errors independently of whether they can supply rules for the corrections.

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Table 3 shows the success rate achieved for rules and corrections, item by item and group by group. Perhaps the first thing to notice about the results is the performance of the English pupils in correcting the errors. In 96 per cent of the possible cases they produced the correction anticipated. Those cases where they did not were largely omissions, either through oversight or because they felt there was no error to correct (for example, items 5 and 10). Only rarely did they produce a non-anticipated correction (for example, 'I'd played' instead of the anticipated 'I played' in item 2). Thus, even though the context of some of the errors is of necessity not exhaustively defined, a standard correction for each item nevertheless seems to suggest itself to native speakers. To that extent at least, the test appears to have validity. The German learners, as might be expected, become better at error correction as their experience increases. For the Gymnasium pupils, the overall success rate is 79 per cent for beginners, 92 per cent for intermediate, and 95 per cent for advanced. The largely ex-Gymnasium university students achieve 97 per cent. At the intermediate level, pupils in the more academic school types are more successful than their peers in less academic schools {Gymnasium 92 per cent, Realschule 72 per cent, Hauptschule 33 per cent). As a whole group, the German learners achieve 78 per cent of the possible corrections—an impressively high figure. How, then, does their performance on rules match up to our expectations? Expectation I: Most learners have learnt the rules they were taught This expectation is not justified. Taking the German learners as a whole, they are able to produce a correct rule in less than half the cases (46 per cent). The learners who should be most familiar with the rules are those who have been taught them most recently and extensively. They are the learners at the intermediate level. In fact, learners in the most academic school at this level (Gymnasium) achieve no better than 55 per cent, whilst those in the Hauptschule manage only 7 per cent. at University of Bath Library & Learning Centre on September 3, 2012

Table 3: Success rates
German School pupils beg. GYM N Item 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total % ) 5( R 38 20 27 12 2 9 28 6 8 12 36 47 C 45 41 46 42 32 12 45 45 45 28 46 49 R 1 4 7 1 0 0 4 9 0 1 0 15 HS 50 C 23 20 19 10 16 1 18 25 9 8 10 41 inter. RS 50 R 24 7 20 14 8 13 20 14 1 4 37 42 C 42 12 49 33 41 11 46 46 30 29 43 47 R 35 22 21 25 31 23 36 18 10 16 45 48 adv.

English University students Al l School pupils

) 5( C 47 45 49 45 50 27 50 50 48 41 50 50 R

) 5( C 50 48 50 49 46 33 48 50 50 45 50 49 46 25 26 28 19 19 36 20 7 16 43 43

r~ ) 5( R 49 41 43 46 39 39 44 40 33 40 46 48 C 49 49 48 49 50 40 49 50 50 49 48 49 R 193 119 144 126 99 103 168 107 59 89 207 243 300 C 256 215 261 228 235 124 256 266 232 200 247 285 R 43 17 32 15 10 17 15 9 8 11 31 42 ) 5C C 50 48 50 49 46 49 48 49 48 44 47 48
O tn



•v (-



245 476 41 79

42 200 7 33

204 429 34 72

330 552 55 92

328 568 55 95

508 580 85 97

1657 2805 78 46

250 576 42 96

Abbreviations: GYM = Gymnasium; RS = Realschule; HS = Hauptschule; N = no of testees; R = rule; C = correction.



Expectation 2: More able/experienced learners learn rules better This expectation is partly fulfilled. Success at learning rules does indeed, as most teachers would probably assume, seem to be firmly linked to the cognitive sophistication of the learners or at least to their academic achievement. This can be seen most clearly at the intermediate level, where the Gymnasium pupils with a 5 5 per cent success rate perform more than half as well again as the Realschule pupils with 34 per cent, who in turn perform nearly five times as well as the Hauptschule pupils with 7 per cent. The link between rule success and school type seems confirmed also by the performance of the beginners (41 per cent), who are also pupils of the Gymnasium. Despite the shorter time they have been learning English, they outperform the intermediate pupils in the Realschule and Hauptschule. This pattern may, of course, be due in part to a self-fulfilling prophecy: the pupils in the less academic schools, especially those in the Hauptschule, are perhaps assumed to be less capable of coping with rules and more easily demotivated by talking about the language. They may, therefore, be taught rules at a simpler level and less intensively. How far the length of time spent learning English is linked to success in formulating rules is unclear from the data. The beginners, intermediate {Gymnasium), and advanced pupils and the university students are all pupils or ex-pupils of the Gymnasium. They are distinguished by the number of years they have been learning English. Whilst there is an increment from beginners to intermediate (41 per cent to 55 per cent), there is no improvement by the advanced learners (also 55 per cent). This may be because, at the advanced level in the Gymnasium, formal grammar-teaching plays a lesser role and pupils concentrate on work with texts. The university students are the learners with the longest experience of learning English and they are also by far the most successful group in formulating correct rules (85 per cent). On the other hand, they have perhaps also paid more formal attention to rules in their university study of English than the advanced pupils. Thus, it would seem impossible to unravel the effects of length of exposure to English from those of attention given to rules. Expectation 3: Correct rule leads to correct correction Table 4 (row 1) shows that the German learners as a whole group nearly always produce a correct correction when they have produced a correct rule (97 per cent of cases). The same is largely true for the individual groups of German learners: for all except the Hauptschule at the intermediate level the percentage is 96 or better. Even this exceptional group has a high success rate with corrections (88 per cent) when the pupils have a correct rule available. It should not be forgotten, however, that that was in only 7 per cent of the possible cases. While it is true to say then that, if pupils have a correct rule available, they can in nearly every case also produce a correct correction, we should not be misled into thinking that they need the rule to produce the correct correction, as the results for our next expectation make clearer.

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Table 4: Relationship of rules and corrections
Germaii School pupils beg. inter.
Row 1 2 3 4 GYM 98 50 67 66 HS 88 82 31 29

RS 97 54 65 51

GYM 97 42 88 84

GYM 96 45 94 92

University students
98 14 95 81


English School pupils
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97 43 70 55

95 92

Row 1 = percentage of correct rules associated with correct corrections Row 2 = percentage of correct corrections not associated with correct rules Row 3 = percentage of incorrect rules associated with correct corrections Row 4 = percentage of no rules associated with correct corrections

Expectation 4: Few correct corrections without rules Learners were much more successful with corrections than with rules. Overall, they achieved 78 per cent of the corrections but only 46 per cent of the rules (Table 3). The same pattern holds true for every individual group: only for the university students do the two success rates come close, but there, too, corrections are ahead of rules by 97 per cent to 85 per cent. This means that a large proportion of errors are corrected without recourse to a viable explicit rule. In fact, as row 2 of Table 4 shows, 43 per cent of the correct corrections overall were not associated with a correct rule. For most of the individual groups, the proportion of corrections without correct rules is even larger. Looked at another way round, learners' ability to produce a correct correction when the rule they have given is incorrect (row 3 of Table 4), or when they have given no rule at all (row 4 of Table 4) is even more striking. Overall, in 70 per cent of cases where they gave an incorrect rule and 55 per cent of cases where they gave no rule at all, the learners still produced a correct correction. Again, for most of the individual groups, the percentages are even higher. The expectation that learners should largely be unable to produce a correct correction if they do not have a correct rule is not only unfounded, the exact reverse is true: learners are still largely able to produce a correct correction when they have an incorrect explicit rule or no explicit rule at all. This suggests that there is no simple relationship between explicit rules and corrections. Expectation 5: Some rules are easier than others Table 3 shows the success rates for the twelve individual rules. Some rules have a fairly consistently high success rate, for example, rule 12 (a/an), where in every group but one (Hauptschule), 42 or more of the 50 learners produce an acceptable rule. Other rules have a fairly consistently low rate, for example, rule 9 (verb aspect), where, except for the university students, only 10 or fewer learners can produce the rule. For the university students, too, rule 9 has the lowest score. So some rules are indeed easier than others.



To simplify the identification of easy and difficult rules, Table 5 shows the four highest-scoring (+) rules and four lowest-scoring (—) rules in each group. Rules with a preponderance of pluses are easy, those with a preponderance of minuses difficult. Looked at in this way, the rules for item 1 (word order), item 7 (some/any), item 11 (who/which) and item 12 (a/an) are relatively easy to formulate, whereas those for item 5 (gerund), item 6 (perfect), and items 9 and 10 (both aspect) are relatively difficult. The qualification 'relatively' is important: for the Hauptschule, where no rule has a success rate higher than 15/50, all the rules are difficult, whereas for the university students, where no rule has a success rate lower than 33/50, they are all easy. Table 5: High (+) and low (—) scoring rules
German School pupils beg. inter. GYM HS University students All English School pupils

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Item 1 (S-P-order) 2 (preterite) 3 (future) 4 (rfo-neg.) 5 (gerund) 6 (perfect) 7 (some/any) 8(adverb) 9 (aspect +) 10 (aspect - ) 11 (who/which) 12 (a/an)

inter. RS

inter. GYM

adv. GYM

NB: More than four pluses or four minuses in any column means that the group had equal scores on two or more rules.

Expectation 6: Native speakers are worse at rules than German learners If we compare the mean success rate of the English pupils (42 per cent) with that of the German learners overall (46 per cent), the expectation that English pupils will be less successful at formulating rules is fulfilled, though not strikingly so, and despite the fact that they have had no formal training in these rules, they are more successful in formulating them than the Gymnasium beginners and the Realschule and Hauptschule groups. The metalinguistic awareness of the English pupils may, of course, have profited from their experience of foreign language learning. Interestingly, they follow the pattern of the German pupils very closely as regards which rules they find easy and which hard. Rules 1, 11, and 12 are amongst their easiest rules whilst 5,9, and 10 are among their hardest. There is only one rule on which their performance differs noticeably from that of the



German pupils: that is rule 7 (the use of some/any), a relatively easy rule for most of the German pupils and a hard one for the English. Expectation 7: Native speakers can correct the errors without rules We have already seen that the vast majority of the English pupils can supply all the expected corrections of the errors. Table 4 shows, in row 2, that 57 per cent of their successful corrections were not associated with a correct rule. Even when the rule they gave was incorrect, 95 per cent of the associated corrections were correct (row 3), and when they could supply no rule at all they could still produce the desired correction in 92 per cent of cases (row 4). It is clear, then, that they were not dependent on explicit rules for their corrections.

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A number of questions were asked about explicit rules in the introduction to this article, of which the fundamental one must be: do they help learners to get the language right? Atfirstglance, it would certainly seem that they do. Unlike Seliger, who found (in a study of the use of a/an) that'... being able to state a rule is no assurance of good performance ...' (1979:364), our learners were almost always able to get the correction right if they had stated the rule correctly. However, two important riders have to be added to that statement. The first is the reminder that, in just over half of the cases, the German learners overall were unable to state a correct rule, although they were supposed to have learned one. The second is that we would have to go along with the second half of Seliger's sentence:'... just as not being able to state any rule is not an induction [sic] of poor performance'. When our learners either did not give a rule or gave a wrong one, they were still largely able to produce the desired correction. This must cast doubt over whether the rule actually led to the correction or whether the correction was effected by 'feel', which then prompted the rule. The latter was almost certainly the sequence for the native speakers, whose performance on rules was not drastically inferior to that of the non-natives and very similar in the pattern of rules found easy and rules found difficult. Teachers who teach rules doubtless do not usually see them as having only a monitoring function, as Krashen does: they expect them to facilitate the internalization of the grammatical system of the target language. Krashen's 'noninterface' position is not disproved by the evidence here,10 but neither is the 'facilitation' view. What does seem to be the case here is that classroom learners with learned rules under their belt and confronted by a grammar test—a classic Krashen Monitor situation—operated to a large extent by 'feel'. That is to say, they corrected largely by implicit rules, which very possibly had been facilitated by explicit rules. The explicit rules resurfaced when they were specifically called for and were then wrongly remembered in some cases. This is a possible explanation of the consistently greater success rate that the German pupils had with corrections when they gave a wrong rule than when they could offer no rule at all (see Table 4, rows 3 and 4).



That the interaction between implicit and explicit rules is a complex one can be seen from Table 3: whilst some low-scoring rules are associated with lowscoring corrections, for example items 6 (use of perfect) and 10 (use of progressive), others are associated with high-scoring corrections, for example items 5 (use of gerund) and 8 (use of adverb). (The product-moment correlation between the success rates for rules and corrections is 0.53 for the German learners overall—significant (p < 0.01) but modest.) When no simple relationship can be established between implicit and explicit rules, what conclusions should we draw for the teaching and learning of explicit rules? On the one hand, when learners are able to state a correct rule, they perform considerably better (corrections 97 per cent correct), for whatever reason, than when they can give only an incorrect rule (corrections 70 per cent correct) or no rule at all (corrections 55 per cent correct). On the other hand, success at rule learning, as measured by the ability to formulate rules, can hardly be deemed satisfactory when the success rate overall is no better than 46 per cent and, of the individual learner groups, only the university students could manage more than 5 5 per cent. These results are similar to those of Hulstijn and Hulstijn, who found that learners with explicit knowledge generally applied rules of word order in Dutch as L2 better than learners without such knowledge, but that they were in a minority (1984:37-40). Sorace also found that there was a 'highly significant correlation between knowledge and use' in a group of non-beginners in Italian but that 'verbalizations of rules were hard to produce, despite the subjects' exposure to detailed and repeated metalinguistic information' (1985:249-50). Clearly, a balance needs to be found between time devoted to the learning of explicit rules (without which many learners may feel frustrated) and time devoted to the communicative use of language, both of which may contribute to the development of the implicit rule system. The solution may lie in distinguishing between rules that are easy and rules that are hard to learn. The pay-off for the time investment may be much greater for the former. The rules that were easy to learn in this investigation were those that (1) referred to easily recognized categories; (2) could be applied mechanically; (3) were not dependent on large contexts: for example, morphological dichotomies like a/an, who/which, straightforward cases of some/any, and simple word order. Bialystok also found that 'the rules which refer to specific lexical items are easier than the rules which are more abstract' (1979:90). The fact that the English pupils were able on the whole to formulate such rules (except some/any) demonstrates their accessibility. There are dangers, however, in the kind of rule simplifications that are often called 'rules of thumb'. One pupil corrected 'As you know, lives my aunt on a farm' to 'live my aunt', citing a rule of thumb often taught to German pupils at an elementary level—'he, she, it': das s muB mit' (a rhyme meaning 'With he, she, it, you have to have an s'). The pupil was applying the rule as stated: there was no he, she, or it in the sentence.

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Hard rules are those that involve aspect, such as the use of the continuous form or the perfect tense or, at a more subtle level than in our item, some/any. These are semantic distinctions that express the speaker's perspective on a situation, as the term 'aspect' suggests. They do not allow of simple exhaustive descriptions and they are not always governed by features of the immediate linguistic context. This makes them not only difficult to grasp but difficult also to practise in simple contexts." Straightforward, mechanically governed linguistic categories can be usefully taught to learners as rules and readily practised in the context of short linguistic exercises. Semantic categories like aspect are probably best presented as explanations rather than as rules, with learners' attention drawn to how they operate in longer contexts ('grammatical consciousness-raising', cf. Rutherford 1987: Chapter 2). Formal practice of these categories, however, may well be an inefficient use of time, which could better be devoted to communicative activities with the focus on meaning. {Revised version received September 1991)
NOTES 1 Modern Languages in the School Curriculum, a 'Statement of Policy' published by the English Department of Education and Science and the Welsh Office (HMSO 1988), claims, for instance, that: Perceptions about the objectives of foreign language teaching have developed over the past 2 decades. There has been a move away from approaches, aimed at the more able pupils, which concentrate on explanation in English of the structure of the foreign language and on written and artificially constructed exercises; the trend is towards more broadly-based provision which emphasises the development of practical skills of communication and especially the ability to understand and use the spoken language, (section 41) 2 See, for example, Peck (1988). Not only are seven of the lessons discussed there (in England, France, Germany, and Norway) specifically devoted to 'teaching grammar' but also there is frequent, highly structured practice of specific grammatical patterns in lessons nominally devoted to 'conducting oral practice' and even 'teaching free expression'. Zimmermann (1984), investigating grammar teaching in practice, found that almost 80 per cent of the teachers studied were in favour of a systematic presentation of grammar and that grammar teaching occupied up to 60 per cent of total teaching time. 3 Ellis is making the statement in a chapter that is 'solely concerned with the role of instruction in the acquisition of L2 grammar' (Ellis 1985:215). 4 Lehrstuhl fur die Didaktik der englischen Sprache und Literatur of the University of Munich, in the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Language Teaching Centre of the University of York, in the United Kingdom. 5 For example: —error analysis (Hecht and Green 1983; Hecht 1984; Green and Hecht 1985) —assessment (Green and Hecht 1984; Hecht 1986; Hecht and Green 1987) -marking (Green 1984,1985) —pronunciation (Pascoe 1987) —grammar (Hecht 1987a; Kieweg 1988; Hecht and Green 1989b)

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—communicative effectiveness (Green and Hecht 1987, 1988; Hecht and Green 1988a,b, 1989a) —communication strategies (Hecht 1987b; Hecht and Green 1991) Future papers will deal with communication strategies in greater detail and with vocabulary and monitoring. 6 It should perhaps be pointed out that German learners are encouraged to arrive at their rules by a largely inductive process, in which the point of departure is the language not the rule. At a certain stage of familiarity with the language, rules are elicited and formalized by their teachers. 7 The Gymnasium is the most academic school type, where pupils are expected to remain until the age of 18 or 19, when they take the Abitur qualification for university entrance. The Realschule is for the more practically oriented pupils, whose further studies after compulsory schooling will generally be pursued in technical or commercial colleges. The Hauptschule is for the non-academic pupils, who will generally become skilled or unskilled manual workers. There is a certain amount of movement between the three school types. Comprehensive schools are less common. 8 In talking about levels of proficiency in a paper, entitled 'Achieving objectivity in subjective language tests', delivered to the Fourth International Congress of Applied Linguistics (AILA) in Stuttgart in 1975. The expression does not appear in the published version of the paper (Jones 1976). 9 They tend to be prescriptive rules about style ('Don't begin a sentence with and or but.' 'Don't end a sentence with a preposition.') or spelling rules (i before e except after c). 1(1 It is difficult to see how Krashen's hypothesis ever could be tested empirically, as several writers have noted (for example, Hulstijn and Hulstijn 1984:41; Sorace 1985: footnote 2; McLaughlin 1988:24). " Krashen and Terrell (1983) also speak of 'simple' and 'difficult' rules, but it is not easy to equate them with the rules found here to be easy or hard.'... simple rules do not require elaborate or complex movements of permutation' (op. cit.: 31). An example given is the English third person singular -s morpheme: 'Difficult rules ... include the English wh -question, which involves moving the questioned word to the front of the sentence, a subject-auxiliary inversion, and, with sentences having only main verbs, the insertion of do. Rules can also be difficult due to their semantic properties.' The latter is certainly true of our hard rules. REFERENCES Anderson, J. R. 1980. Cognitive Psychology and its Implications. San Francisco: Freeman. Bialystok, E. 1979. 'Explicit and implicit judgements of L2 grammaticality.' Language Learning 29/1:81-103. Bialystok, E. 1982. 'On the relationship between knowing and using linguistic forms.' Applied Linguistics 3/3:181-206. Bialystok, E. and M. Sharwood Smith. 1985. 'Interlanguage is not a state of mind: An evaluation of the construct for second language acquisition/ Applied Linguistics 6/2:101-17. Department of Education and Science. 1988. Modem Languages in the School Curriculum. London: HMSO. Diller, K. C. 1978. The Language Teaching Controversy. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House.

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Dulay, H., M. Burt, and S. D. Krashen. 1982. Language Two. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ellis, R. 1985. Understanding Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Faerch, C. 1986. 'Rules of thumb and other teacher-formulated rules in the foreign language classroom' in G. Kasper (ed.): Learning, Teaching and Communication in the Foreign Language Classroom. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press. Faerch, C. and G. Kasper. 1984. 'Pragmatic knowledge. Rules and procedures.' Applied Linguistics 5/3:214-25. Felix, S. W. 1987. 'Kognitive Grundlagen des Sprachlemens' in H. Melenk et al. (eds.): 11. Fremdsprachendidaktiker-Kongrefi. Tubingen: Narr. Green, P. S. 1984. 'Marking written work.' Inside English 4. (Cassette magazine for English teachers, published by Petersen-Macmillan, Hamburg.) Green, P. S. 1985. 'Teachers and pupils as markers' in P. S. Green (ed.): York Papers in Language Teaching. York: Language Teaching Centre, University of York. Green, P. S. and Kh. Hecht. 1984. 'Reliability in the assessment of written communicative skills.' Finlance 3:1-23. (The Finnish journal of language learning and language teaching. University of Jyvaskyla, Finland: Language Centre for Finnish Universities.) Green, P. S. and Kh. Hecht. 1985. 'Native and non-native evaluation of learners' errors in written discourse.' System 13/2:77-97. Green, P. S. and Kh. Hecht. 1987. 'The influence of accuracy on communicative effectiveness.' British Journal of Language Teaching 25/2:79-84. Green, P. S. and Kh. Hecht. 1988. 'The sympathetic native speaker—a GCSE role-play for the teacher.' Modern Languages 69/1:3-10. Hecht, Kh. 1984. 'Die Fehler von deutschen Schiilern bei der schriftlichen Sprachproduktion und ihre Bedeutung fur den Englischunterricht der Sekundarstufe I.' Inside English 4. (Cassette magazine for English teachers, published by Petersen-Macmillan, Hamburg.) Hecht, Kh. 1986. 'Das Interview. Karlheinz Hecht im Gesprach mit der Praxis des neusprachlichen Unterrichts zum Thema "Fremdsprachliche Fehler und ihre Benotung".' Praxis des neusprachlichen Unterrichts 1:79-86. Hecht, Kh. 1987a. "Talking about the past": bypassing strategies.' Englisch 3:105-7. Hecht, Kh. 1987b. 'Lexikalische Kommunikationsstrategien.' Englisch 3:107-9. Hecht, Kh. and P. S. Green. 1983. Fehleranalyse und Leistungsbewertung im Englischunterricht der Sekundarstufe I. Donauworth: Ludwig Auer. Hecht, Kh. and P. S. Green. 1987. 'Analyse und Bewertung von miindlichen Schiilerproduktionen.' Praxis des neusprachlichen Unterrichts 1:3-11. Hecht, Kh. and P. S. Green. 1988a. 'Kommunikative Wirksamkeit von Schulerbriefen— ein Produkt von Sprachrichtigkeit?' Englisch 1:1-8. Hecht, Kh. and P. S. Green. 1988b. 'Verstandlich oder sprachlich korrekt?' P'ddagogische Welt 2:84-7. Hecht, Kh. and P. S. Green. 1989a. 'Zur kommunikativen Wirksamkeit von fehlerhaften SchiilerauBerungen.' Praxis des neusprachlichen Unterrichts 1:3-9. Hecht, Kh. and P. S. Green. 1989b. 'Grammatische Kompetenz und Performanz.' Die neueren Sprachen 88/6:573-90. Hecht, Kh. and P. S. Green. 1991. 'Kommunikationsstrategien: ein Lern- und Lehrproblem?' Praxis des neusprachlichen Unterrichts 2:133-44. Hulstijn, J. H. and W. Hulstijn. 1984. 'Grammatical errors as a function of processing constraints and explicit knowledge.' Language Learning 34/1:23-43.

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Jones, R. L. 1976. 'Achieving objectivity in subjective language tests' in G. Nickel (ed.): Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Applied Linguistics. Stuttgart: HochschulVerlag. Kieweg, W. 1988. 'Die Signalwortgrammatik—funktioniert sie wirklich?' Pddagogische Welt 2:81-3. Krashen, S. D. 1981. Second Language Learning and Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon. Krashen, S. D. and T. D. Terrell. 1983. The Natural Approach. Oxford: Pergamon. McLaughlin, B. 1988. Theories of Second-Language Learning. London: Edward Arnold. Pascoe, G. 1987. Die Aussprache des Englischen an Bayrischen Schulen. Munich: Profil. Peck, A. J. 1988. Language Teachers at Work. Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice Hall. Rutherford, W. E. 1987. Second Language Grammar: Learning and Teaching. London: Longman. Seliger, H. W. 1979. 'On the nature and function of language rules in language teaching.' TESOL Quarterly 13/3:359-69. Sorace, A. 1985. 'Metalinguistic knowledge and language use in acquisition-poor environments.' Applied Linguistics 6/3:239-54. Stern, H. H. 1983. Fundamental Concepts of Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Zimmermann, G. 1984. Erkundungen zur Praxis des Grammatikunterrichts. Frankfurt: Diesterweg. APPENDIX Text of Rules Test The version of the test that follows is that given to the English pupils. For the German pupils the instructions were in German. Instructions On page 1 you will find 12 sentences written by German pupils who are learning English. There is one mistake (underlined) in each sentence. Can you think of a grammar rule or of an explanation that would help the German pupil to avoid this mistake? Write this explanation on page 2 and 3. If you can't think of anything, write N. Then write the correct form of the underlined phrase next to your explanation. The following sentences are taken from a letter of a German pupil to an English penfriend: 1. As you know lives my aunt on a farm. 2. 1 spent last Easter with my aunt. Most of the time I've played tennis. 3. If you come to Munich next year, I show you the new sports centre. 4. It takes not very long to get there. 5. There is a farm near us. Do you like to ride horses? 6. If you do, there'll be no problem, because 1 know the farmer for a long time. 7. Of course, we won't have to pay something for the ride. 8. Have I told you that my brother has got a new car? He drives more careful now than before.

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The following sentences are taken from a statement given by a German pupil who saw a man steal a radio in a shop in London: 9. About half an hour ago a man was coming into the shop. 10. He had a very big nose and smoked a cigarette. 11. While the shop-keeper was fetching a radio from the backroom, the man, which was a thief, snatched a little cassette-recorder from the counter and ran out of the shop. 12. Outside he was arrested by an policeman.
SENTENCE RULE Explain the rule here as clearly as you can. If you can't, write N. 1 CORRECTION Write the correct form of the underlined phrase here.

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