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0 Critical response
(Write a critical response of about 800-850 words for the selected approaches and issues in
the teaching of grammar particularly in the Malaysian primary ESL classroom)
. Methodologists and teachers have suggested various ways on how to teach grammar
effectively yet it can be a burden to teachers to be experimenting with new techniques of
unknown result. Pupils especially in primary school need to have strong foundation in grammar
so that they can explore more in English by using correct sentence structure. For example, they
can start practicing it by using correct grammar in speaking. Grammar itself has varied
definitions. As what W. Nelson (1954) said, grammar is the set of formal patterns in which the
words of a language are arranged in order to convey larger meaning. In addition, there are
some issues that need to be highlighted so that we can know the problems in the teaching of
grammar. I have chosen two approaches which are communicative and task based. Meanwhile,
the issues that I want to highlight are grammatical awareness among primary school teachers
and also interference in learning English.
Firstly, communicative approach is organized on the basis of communicative functions
that a given learner or group of learners need to know and emphasizes the ways in which
particular grammar form may be used to express these functions appropriately. As what Arshad
& Hawanum (2007) wrote, this approach has had a significant impact on the teaching of
grammar as its objective of communicative competence has led to a diminished role for
grammar teaching (refer to article 1). In my view, this approach is created as to focus on how
pupils will be able to use English to communicate effectively. In order to achieve this, teachers
should put pupils in a situation whereby they are using language not merely in response to the
teachers instructions, but also because they need to use it in daily life. For example, they use it
in order to seek information, solve a problem and asking some questions. Meanwhile, we have
to look at the objectives of this method. As teachers, we need to develop our pupils fluency and
accuracy. We cannot only focus on accuracy by providing them with lots of grammar rules as it
will limit their fluency. This is because pupils will think twice before voicing out their opinions as
they need to construct correct sentences. However, we must concern about the grammar rules
when we tend to focus on fluency. A study by Higgs and Clifford (cited in Celce-Murcia, 1988)
indicates that students who learn English through the communication first model often develop
the habit of using ungrammatical forms.

Next, the approach that I have chosen is task-based which the teacher will
accommodate learners with grammar problems as they must solve it interactively (refer to article
2). In Malaysian context, pupils get few opportunities to communicate in English. They will
converse in English only when they are asked to do so. Furthermore, as what Faith Hsiao
(2005) said, from the theoretical perspective which supports communicative tasks, language is
best learned through interaction. This statement is supported by Cheon (2003), Activities are
structured so that all learners will talk as a means of sharing ideas and opinions, collaborating
toward a single goal, or completing to achieve individual goals. In my point of view, it is
undeniable that if we are given some tasks, we have to explore about it and try to solve the
problems. In fact, some grammar rules are taught indirectly as the pupils will discover the rules
by themselves. To sum up, the task-based approach might cultivate students motivation,
facilitate grammar learning and train students to be independent learners and problem-solver.
This method can be related to the theory of cognitivist as it proposes teaching learners how to
analyze problems and how to think for themselves. As what Fotos & Ellis (1991) said, task
based approach will not only contribute directly to promote acquisition of implicit knowledge but
also contribute indirectly to develop explicit knowledge of L2 rules which will later facilitate the
acquisition of implicit knowledge.
Teachers play the most important role in grammar teaching. Therefore, it is very crucial
for teachers to have grammatical awareness and contribute towards the improvement of teacher
education in the country (refer article 5). An English teacher should be able to draw on both
explicit and implicit knowledge of the language. Studies by Grossman, Wilson and Shulman
(1989) and Beard (1999), for instance, demonstrated that teachers tend to avoid teaching
grammar due to uncertainty about their knowledge of grammar and inadequacy of grammatical
knowledge. Teachers must be able to have good grasp of grammatical knowledge to help them
develop the target language. Further, to help pupils acquire language successfully, there must
be sufficient input by the teachers as pupils can use it productively. I agree with the statement
made by Munir Shuib (2008) as she said, Quality input in the classroom demands a strong
command of English on the part of the teachers. As pointed out by Andrews (2005) a teacher
with a good grasp of grammatical construction will be in a better position to help students.

Another issue is about interference in learning English. As what Shaari (1987) said, in
particular, he found that the major difficulty faced by many of the students is learning the English
grammar (refer article 6). A research has been done among students in remote areas as their
essays were analyzed. As a result, some of them are having problems in determiner; subjectverb agreement and copula be verb (refer to article 6). Although not all errors are due to
mother tongue, I strongly presume that it has a big impact towards English learning process. It
is because it will affect their performances in writing, reading, listening and speaking. Hence,
remedial measures should be taken to implement the best approach that could assist students
in these problematic areas. I think interference of Malay grammar should be not being the
obstacles for Malay students to be proficient in English. Teachers should also implement
measures to minimize the chances of errors by looking at the development of teaching aids and
teaching practices.

I believe that assorted teachers have numerous approaches to execute the teaching of
grammar and I would recommend using communicative approach whereby students will be able
to acquire fluency and accuracy at the same time. This is because it will provide an exposure to
the pupils so that they will build their confidence to communicate in English. In grammar context,
they will be able to construct sentences correctly and eventually knowing the rules in English.
Some issues are clearly stated as it will be a food for thought especially for me whether I am
ready enough to be an English teacher in future. As a trainee teacher, I need to delve more on
teaching methods and get ready to gain knowledge as many as I can.