Who Teaches Grammar Anymore?

I have a question about teaching the Spanish Preterit and Imperfect. Does anyone know of any website where students can do practice grammar exercises and learn the semantic differences between the Spanish Preterit and Imperfect verb tenses? Also, is it better to introduce the Spanish Preterit first and separate from the Spanish Imperfect and then later teach the Spanish Imperfect separate from the Spanish Preterit? or should both of these verb tenses be taught simultaneously? I’m currently teaching an intermediate level Spanish class and the majority of the students do not have an extensive background in knowing how to use these verb tenses appropriately.>>

This is a post from a prominent listserv for fl teachers. It can be duplicated a number of times everything except for details of language and grammatical feature. It comes from young and old, veteran and novice, domestic and foreign, and it comes regardless of when or where the teacher was educated.

Why is this important? Because over many years now of reading listservs for fl teachers, I so often read that grammar is being dropped from fl instruction. It is very clear from these countless posts that nothing could be further from the truth. Most of these teachers will swear they teach communicatively. Why do they swear that? Because “communicative” is the buzz word; you donÔ¿Ωt need to actually teach that way or even know what the word means, just use it.

Note that the teacher who wants to teach grammar does not know that the difference between the imperfect and the preterit is aspectual, not semantic. If the teacher does not know the difference, what hope does he have for passing on this knowledge to others, never mind that explaining grammar does not lead to using grammar.

Please note also that the teacher believes that practice will somehow install this grammatical feature into the learnerÔ¿Ωs brain. Can anyone provide evidence for that?

And finally, note that the students are intermediate and it sounds like the teacher expects the learners to have an “extensive background” in using these tenses (read: aspects) appropriately.

My blog entry is in no way an attack on this teacher; I doubt that one in one hundred fl teachers would find anything off-base about this approach. But I want to reassure those who decry the fall-off in the teaching of grammar that their perceptions are wildly off the mark. Grammar is Queen, viva la reina!

UPDATE 6/21/09
this is what Malcolm Gladwell is getting at in one of his books. People make decisions based on what he calls “thin-slicing”, taking a tiny portion of an event and acting on it unconsciously.

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