Plenary by Catherine Walter

This plenary talk looks at questions surrounding the teaching of grammar.

About the session

Should we be planning to teach grammar? If so, how?

Questions about teaching grammar do not go away. Should we forget grammar and only teach vocabulary? Or should we teach grammar, but only the grammar learners need when they can't express the meanings they have in mind? Or should we plan our grammar teaching in advance? Should we promote learners' noticing of grammatical features, or just let it happen? Should we teach rules, or should we let the learners figure them out? If we do teach rules, where in the task cycle should we teach them? This presentation will assess the evidence for different points of view on these questions. It will also look at each question in the light of the demands that are made on teachers and learners in classrooms around the world. It will suggest some ways for teachers to think about the questions and to look for answers that are adapted to their contexts.

About the speaker

Catherine Walter began her career in Paris, teaching English and tutoring English language teachers. She then began writing teaching materials with co-author Michael Swan: the latest Swan-Walter collaboration, The Oxford English Grammar Course, will launch at the 2011 IATEFL conference. In the 1990s, Catherine was the first female President of IATEFL. Later, in what might be called a crossover, she studied for a PhD at the University of Cambridge and began teaching and researching in applied linguistics. She now lectures at the University of Oxford, and her latest enterprise there is a distance Diploma in Teaching English Language in University Settings. Catherine is a member of the Advisory Council of IATEFL and of the Wider Membership Scheme Advisory Committee; she is also the Chair of the British Council's English Language Advisory Group, and a member of the BAAL/LAGB Committee on Linguistics in Education. Her research interests are in reading comprehension, pedagogical grammar and teacher education, and she is passionately devoted to equal opportunities for language learners and teachers.

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