A study for teaching and learning English grammar in some selected primary schools
1.0. Background to the study
It is because of the various roles English language plays in our society that the teaching and learning of English has become very important. English language is very important in contemporary society in that it is use for communication, education, economic and social purposes. English is not only taught as a subject of its own but it is also the core subject through which many other school subjects are taught. Despite the important role English language plays, less attention is given to the grammatical aspects in the primary schools. Today, the nature of teaching and learning of grammar in primary schools has become an area of great interest to teachers, researchers and policy makers because through it, the acquisition of the four language skills ( listening, speaking, reading and writing) are greatly enhanced.
English grammar which entails tenses, parts of speech and punctuations is of great importance to the teaching, learning and mastering of the English language amongst primary school pupils. Since primary education is a better foundation on which the future depends, English grammar should not only be taught to the pupils but should be taken more seriously. According to Chomsky (1957), a child is born with the innate ability to learn. Here, he talks of the Language Acquisition Device (LAD) in which a device is a mechanism naturally built in the brain to take sounds. At a certain age, the brain starts rejecting sounds because of other sounds in the brain. Children learn easily than adults. The device is stronger in children because the brain is virgin and is able to magnify anything coming from the world. So if the pupils are well taught these grammatical aspects, they will better understand, master and use them in their day to day activities until they (English grammar) become a part of them.
According to Saussure (1916), language is the mirror of the mind. This means that the learner produces what he or she has learned. So, if there is no teaching, learning will not take place, hence, the learner will not only be blank but also be ignorant that such a thing exists. For teaching to be e ective, the teacher has to master his\her subject matter very well. Instead of most teachers to teach the English grammar which is the most important, they focus on the teaching of writing and reading comprehension. Some contributing factors to the above are unquali ed teachers, inadequate teaching materials (textbooks\ teaching aids) ambiguity of some English syllabi and the teacher’s inability to properly evaluate pupils’ work on grammar. Because of these, the pupils’ tend to use the English grammar poorly: a noun as a verb, a verb as a noun, an adjective as a noun and a noun as an adjective just to name but these few. For examples:
-Mary complaints to the teacher that she is sick.
Complaints here is a noun that the pupils used as a “verb”. The right sentence is; Mary complains to the teacher that she is sick.
-John did not past his rst term exams.
Pasthere is a verb which the pupils used as an adjective. The right sentence is; John did not pass his rst term exams.
-The teacher gave us a test to test our intelligent.
Intelligent here is an adjective used as a noun. The right sentence is; The teacher gave us a test to test our intelligence.
Moreover, pupils mostly use capital letters only at the beginning of sentences forgetting to know that proper nouns always begin with a capital letter no matter where they appear in a sentence; be it at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence. For example; instead of saying “I am from Bali” the pupils will say “I am from bali” writing Bali with a small letter just because it came at the end of the sentence.
Furthermore, pupils often precede a verb with “TO” when it is not in its in nitive form. For example; “What my mother did was to sent me to school.”
The above sentence is wrong in that sent is not in its in nitive form but the past tense. The right sentence is: “What my mother did was to send me to school”. They also nd it di cult to compare adjectives.
For example; they will say “I did best in the rst term than in the second term”. Instead of “I did better in the rst term than in the second term”.
These and more are the challenges face by primary school pupils. Therefore, the teaching and learning of English in primary schools should be to ensure that pupils have a mastering of the English grammar and the ability to use it e ectively for e ective communication in oral and written forms of the English language. It is the interest of the present study to examine the various grammatical norms, and strategies that these could be taught in primary schools to enhance the communication skills of pupils through the use of the English grammar.