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For a few decades, teaching grammar has been a major issue in Malaysia and also in
global settings. There are many issues that can be found when we are talking about teaching
grammar especially in the primary ESL classroom. For example, possible reasons why students
keep on making mistakes when learning grammar in the classroom, what is the best approach
in teaching grammar, when is the best time to teach grammar, student readiness to learn
grammar and many others. What is grammar anyhow? Grammar can be defined in several
different ways. The Oxford American Dictionary, for example, defines grammar as "the study of
words and the rule for their formation and their relationships to each other in sentences; the
rules themselves; speech or writing judged as good or bad according to these rules" (282). This
short essay will discuss on approaches and general issues on the teaching of grammar in the
primary ESL classroom based on Malaysian and global settings.
Basically, there are many issues in teaching of grammar in the primary ESL classroom
based on Malaysian and global settings. One of them is when should we teach grammar to the
students. According to Ellis (n.d), there are two competing opinions to this question. The first
opinion is it is best to teach grammar during the early stages of second language (L2)
acquisition and second is later stages when learners have already begun to form their
interlanguages. The reasons to support the first opinion are as follows. Firstly, according to Ellis
(n,d), the main premise of behaviourist theories of language learning is that error like sin needs
to be avoided at all costs. This means that once learners made a wrong habit, the teacher must
correct it immediately with correct habit so that the learners will develop correct habit in the near
future. Furthermore, it is also essential to teach grammar during the early stages as the new
habit is easily learnt during the early stages. Thus, it is necessary to make sure that learners
can develop correct habits in the first place. On the other hand, the arguments to support
grammar should be taught during the later stages are as follows. Many researches had had
been done shows that learners in are able to develop the proficiency needed for fluent
communication without any formal instruction in the L2. Moreover, another reason for delaying
grammar teaching to later stages of development is that early interlanguage is typically
agrammatical. In other words, learners depend on a memory-based system of lexical
sequences when learning grammar which means that they are able to understand grammar
through their previous learning (schemata).
The next issue is regarding the possible reasons why students keep on making mistakes
when learning grammar in the classroom. Actually, there are several possible reasons why
students keep on making mistakes when learning grammar in the classroom. The first one is
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they are not ready yet to learn grammar. There is a lot of evidence shows that even the native
speaker children tend to make grammatical errors when learning English even when they are in
elementary school and this proof that children need time to learn grammar and they need to be
fully ready before learning grammar. So, we as a teacher should remain patience when teaching
grammar to the students especially in elementary school. The next possible reason is the
student is overloaded. Nowadays, we can see that the students are very busy in their daily life
and they have so many things to think and handle. So, if sometimes the students are making
mistake in grammar, they are probably busy thinking of other things. For example, coping with
the rules of the language game, digesting the latest language point, sorting out a logic or
problem solving puzzle, or concentrating on another point like their pronunciation. All this things
will influence the students concentration and thus they might make mistake in their grammar.
We as a teacher should not scold the students but we should give more time and make them
focus on their learning process in order for them to learn the language successfully.
In the process of learning a target language, there are many learning approaches that
could be used by the teachers. For example, Grammar Translation Method, Direct Method,
Audio-Lingual Method, Silent Way, Suggestopedia, Total Physical Response, Community
Language Learning and Communicative Language Teaching. What I want to highlight in this
essay is one of the best approach in teaching grammar to the students which is Grammar
Translation Method. Basically, Grammar Translation Method is a traditional method and it was
introduced in the 19th century and originated from the practice of teaching Latin. In this method,
it focuses on grammatical rules as the basis for translating from the second to the native
language. Moreover, in this approach, the students have to analyse and study the grammatical
rules of the target language. Furthermore, they are given explanations on grammar, and after
that they will be given sentences which need to be translated from the target language to the
native language and vice versa. To conclude, this method focuses on grammatical rules and
memorization of vocabulary. This method is relevant to be applied in Malaysian context because
we can observe that most of English Language teachers prefer to use Malay Language instead
of English when speaking or giving instructions to their pupils, especially who are in Level 1
(Year 1, 2 and 3) and rural area school. So, we can see that the use of mother tongue is like
common practice in the Malaysian classroom and the reason why English Language is not fully
used to communicate is that it is easy for Malaysian to understand English Language when they
learn using their mother tongue which is Bahasa Melayu. Furthermore, this method is also
applicable to Malaysian classroom context because it focuses on translation the target language
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to native language and vice versa. Thus, it is suitable especially for the Level 1 primary school
pupils who do not yet possess vocabulary in their target language. As a result, they will learn to
translate words in the form of list or isolated words, and next move to more complex things
which are sentences and paragraphs. Besides, this method is also to be applied in Malaysian
context because it focuses on teaching of grammar. For example, the students learn grammar
specifically for example, the students will learn what is Verbs, Prepositions, Nouns and
Pronouns which were based on KBSR English syllabus.
In conclusion, there are many issues and approaches in teaching grammar in Malaysian
and global settings. I will try my best to improve myself in the near future so that I will be a good
teacher to my beloved students.

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Oxford American English Dictionary,
Ellis, R. (n.d). Classroom second language development. Oxford, England: Pergamon.