A teacher once said that she longed for the day when she could say to a student, “Here you used an adjective where you should have used an adverb” or, “at this point you used a principal verb without an auxiliary verb” or, “if you place the subject at the end of this sentence it will improve the flow of your story.” Rather than saying, “You have made some mistakes so I have inserted the corrections in red ink.” She lamented that the former would be a much more satisfying learning situation for both herself and her student. Grammar is at the heart of what we say and write, and it allows us to understand each other clearly. Why is it important for children to learn the complexity of the rules which govern their language at the primary school level?
Noam Chomsky, a pioneering linguist and a professor at MIT, put forth an idea called the language acquisition device or LAD. The LAD is a proposed tool hardwired into the brain that helps children rapidly learn and understand language. Chomsky used it to explain just how amazingly children are able to acquire language abilities, as well as, accounting for the innate understanding of grammar and syntax all children possess. The theorist Eric Lenneberg deduced the hypothesis of Critical Period. This states that the acquisition of language must happen before cerebral lateralization is complete which usually happens at the age of puberty. In light of the aforementioned theories, one can easily see how the task of teaching grammar in primary schools can be performed and be successful.
The learning ability of children are too often taken for granted. Teachers tend to sacrifice lesson content in the attempt to make grammar palatable when presenting it to children. This need not be so since it was discovered that children have a natural inclination towards grammar. Children are remarkable learners and they internalize content efficiently once the proper environment is available. For this reason, teacher need to understand that there are affective filters which inhibit acquisition in grammar. The method of choice should also be taken into consideration. It should be appropriate to the primary school child, as children at this level pick up language from everyday conversations with their peers and adults. This signals that they can be taught grammar through language immersion. With this method the children would encounter grammar during their everyday activities at school, thereby developing an ear for proper sentence construction. However, the theory aspect should be introduced simultaneously with the practical, since this method is task-centered and highlights that grammar theory would be useless unless it is put into practice.
Based on the above argument, it can be concluded that grammar should be taught in primary schools, if teachers create the proper atmosphere to facilitate acquisition. Once grammar is correctly used, it makes listening and reading easier for children, communication is more enjoyable, and it positively impact their relationships with others. Grammar enables children to expand their vocabulary as they learn more interesting ways to communicate messages and present information. When children are taught grammar early in their developmental years, there will be a firm foundation on which educators would find pleasure to build upon. This will result in a satisfying and rewarding learning experience for both the child and the teacher.
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