Difficulties in Learning English Grammar

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International Journal of Instruction
e-ISSN: 1308-1470 ● www.e-iji.net

July 2011 ● Vol.4, No.2 p-ISSN: 1694-609X

DIFFICULTIES IN TEACHING AND LEARNING GRAMMAR IN AN EFL CONTEXT1 Abdu Mohammed Al-Mekhlafi PhD., College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman rayan3@gmail.com Ramani Perur Nagaratnam PhD., Ministry of Manpower, Oman The role of grammar instruction in an ESL/EFL context has been for decades a major issue for students and teachers alike. Researchers have debated whether grammar should be taught in the classroom and students, for their part, have generally looked upon grammar instruction as a necessary evil at best, and an avoidable burden at worst. The paper reports a study undertaken to investigate the difficulties teachers face in teaching grammar to EFL students as well as those faced by students in learning it, in the teachers' perception. The study aimed to find out whether there are significant differences in teachers' perceptions of difficulties in relation to their gender, qualification, teaching experience, and the level they teach in school, thus providing insights into their own and their students' difficulties. Mean scores and t-test were used to interpret the data. The main findings are reported with implications. Key Words: English language teaching, instruction, EFL grammar instruction, teaching, difficulties in grammar instruction

INTRODUCTION The English teacher is often portrayed as an "unattractive grammar monger whose only pleasure in life is to point out the faults of others" (Baron, 1982, p. 226). For the most part, within the classroom, any mention of grammar causes the student moments of discomfort and sometimes even terror. Many teachers have tried to make grammar teaching a non-threatening, imaginative and useful activity within the English curriculum. 1 A summary of this paper was presented at the 54th World Assembly of the International Council on Education for Teaching (ICET) on ‘Maintaining Strategic Agility: Managing change and assuring quality in education for teaching’, 14-17 December 2009, Muscat, Oman.

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Difficulties in Teaching and Learning Grammar…

Previous studies on students' and teachers' attitudes and perceptions of grammar instruction in the context of language teaching and learning suggest a disparity between students and teachers. While students favour formal and explicit grammar instruction and error correction, teachers favour communicative activities with less conscious focus on grammar (e.g., Brindley 1984; Kumaravadivelu 1991; Leki 1995; Schultz 1996, 2001; Spratt 1999). Rationale for the present study The foregoing review of literature shows that practicing teachers are faced with a range of options for grammar instruction in their classrooms. There are, however, many types of difficulties faced by students and teachers with regard to grammar instruction in an ESL/EFL context. Identifying such difficulties and being consciously aware of them would help teachers find ways of overcoming them and provide effective grammar instruction. There has, however, been little investigation of the difficulties faced by EFL teachers and Aran learners in the Gulf region with regard to grammar instruction. The teachers employ theoretically recommended methods without necessarily taking into account their own and their learners’ potential difficulties. They may not be conscious of difficulties which are serious and may thus hinder students’ learning of English grammar, and do not choose the method of instruction that would pose fewer difficulties and problems to their learners. It is in this context that the present study was undertaken to capture valuable insights into how EFL school teachers in Oman perceive students’ as well as their own difficulties with grammar instruction. The study reported here aims to address this need by presenting the difficulties of a cross section of school EFL teachers in Oman as well as their perceptions of their students'...
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