Something chewy from Jeremy Harmer

“…before you get too starry-eyed about the functional-notional approach… it would be good to remember Chris Brumfit’s worry that teaching formulaic ‘doing-things-with-language’ was a way of trying to force students to say things that WE wanted them to say, rather than allowing them the freedom to use their own language combinations…functional-notional syllabuses were prescriptive and ‘nugget’-like in many ways. And still are. And so is quite a lot of chunk teaching (which is what functions were all about long before the lexical Approach etc.

In a way i think grammar nuggets may be far more liberating – since they contain more freedom of use and collogation/collocation than some of the more pre-digested functional chunks we used to teach”

From S is for Strategies on Scott Thornbury’s ever excellent (damn him, does this man never sleep!?) A to Z of ELT blog.

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5 Responses to Something chewy from Jeremy Harmer

  1. Sputnik says:

    But did you catch Scott’s riposte on Darren’s site: there is no grammar! It doesn’t exist. When I told my DoS this you’d have thought I’d murdered Santa Claus in front of her eyes.

  2. It exists, we just can’t really chop it up and teach it. It’s a shame, because I have some great lessons tucked away on the past perfect from my early days. Students like it – it’s easily digestable, and at the end you can say “Right, that’s the past perfect done, next week we’ll do the past perfect continuous”.

    Shame life’s not like that……

  3. Alex Case says:

    Do you mean to tell me that you’ve never experienced studying grammar improving your speaking, writing or comprehension in another language?

  4. I’ve studied it, but I haven’t learnt it. The grammar forms I can use most accurately are the ones I’ve used the most in ‘real life’. OK, so attending to them and ‘noticing’ them in class can be very important…. but I don’t know if chopping them up into discrete parts is as effective as coursebook syllabi would have us believe….

  5. Adam says:

    Thornbury doesn’t need sleep, having attained TEFL God status, but he is looking awfully thin these days. Hope he’s OK.

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