Explicit grammar teaching used to dominate many ELT classrooms around the world for a long time.

Then different approaches emerged arguing for the effectiveness of implicit grammar teaching, or even for teaching no grammar rules at all. To address some of these issues, the British Council hosted a special seminar by Doctor Catherine Walter at Spring Gardens, London, on the evening of the 18th of May.

Catherine firstly talked about the origins and the development of explicit and implicit grammar teaching. She compared the academic theories and empirical evidence and concluded that in certain circumstances, inductive grammar teaching is as good as, if not better than, other ways of learning grammatical features.

When should we teach grammar inductively, and, how can learners figure it out for themselves? Catherine argued that it is necessary to have a proper pedagogic rule to help us decide if some particular grammar rules can be taught inductively. She gave examples of creative ways to design inductive activities, and then lead the learners towards summarising a specific grammar rule. Catherine argued persuasively that inductive grammar teaching, if conducted appropriately, can result in deeper processing and the enhancement of the learners’ confidence and autonomy.

The interaction and the discussion with the audience continued after the seminar, and many teachers left the seminar feeling confident to try out Catherine’s templates for designing their own inductive grammar teaching activities.

Xiaobing Wang

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