Review of article by Decoo – Part VII

grammatical features along with some initial phonetic rules, all bound together by practice, just the same approach used in countless textbooks, courses, and classrooms grammar feature to grammar feature. He must have had some experience that makes him keep characterizing communicative methods as being practical, as if communicative teachers just want to get their students out of the airport, into their hotel, and then get a meal. He is really silly about this.

The crux of his view of language teaching comes clear again where he focuses on grammatical analysis, and common European language features like “agreement”, as if all languages don’t have some form of “agreement”. He is truly caught up in the old paradigm of Madame Bourbignon’s Twin Forks grammar class of 1956. Ah, those were the days! His emphasis on intellectual development has its origins in the late 19th century drive to develop ones “faculties”; thus the value of intense grammatical analysis as a way of strengthening the mind. He is quite the backward looking person. Not that there was not a lot of value in earlier methods, but why have we moved on?

His purpose is not served well by trying to sell us on the notion that language teaching methods go through cycles. First of all, it’s not true. Secondly, it has nothing to do with his purpose of getting us back to teaching grammatical analysis. Why doesn’t he just teach his classes that way and leave everyone else alone? I wouldn’t dream of telling him how to teach but there seems to be a buried impetus here to get everyone back on board the grammar train. Why should it bother him that I’m not on board? My school determines if I’m doing a good job; what does he have to do with it? Ah! Of course! He’s trying to change the direction of American fl teaching. A noble thing. So is Krashen. A noble thing. I pick Krashen, you can pick Decoo.

* In fact, to get back to why teachers like eclecticism, that is why they do; they get to choose one thing one day and one thing another. And when the students don’t reach the goals their teachers have set for them, they can blame the kids. “I’ve tried everything. It must be the students.”

As I read the article Martin recommended, I made notes, e.g. ” It would appear that Decoo thinks this is a sound approach to teaching languages. If this proves true as I read the article, I’ll have to come back to this statement and take him on.” And indeed it turns out to be true. I hope I’ve shown that the thrust of this article is to turn people back to teaching explicit grammatical analysis in fl classes; I won’t take on the evidence pro and con. This has already taken a good deal of time, starting with my initial response started right after Martin posted the link. After finals I had time to refine my response. I hope anyone reading it can respond in turn. I just urge more openness, more honesty about one’s goals than I think Decoo has shown here. And most of all, I would hope anyone advocating a return to grammatical analysis would offer evidence that it works. 

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