Teaching Old Dogs "New" Grammar Tricks with Content-based Instruction: A Course Evaluation

Deron Walker

Abstract


What do we do when we discover that a uniform body of research speaks with virtually one voice, boldly declaring that practically everything we have traditionally experienced in school and have ever been taught about teaching grammar has been consistently found to be largely ineffective? A California school teacher, continuing her professional development and studying a graduate level English course using “contextual approaches to grammar,” might feel anxious, skeptical, or perhaps even relieved for the opportunity to be able to stop “teaching the book” in favor of exploring “new” methods and approaches, content-based instruction (CBI). This paper reports on a naturalistic inquiry in which a graduate level course instructor introduced this “new” approach and its “new” methods to his class of graduate student / teachers and encouraged them to make their own innovations to grammar instruction. As a result, both the numerical ratings and comments on course evaluations as well as the work submitted during the semester, indicated strongly that the beginning teachers and pre-service teachers taking this course learned a lot about teaching grammar more contextually, in a content-based manner. Thus, they were increasingly willing to try out those ideas when engaged in literary or writing instruction by the end of the course.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jse.v10i3.17204

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