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The role of formal instruction in English second language acquisition within the communicative approach
The role of grammar in second language teaching has changed drastically in the past fifty years. The central role of grammar as the organizing principle in the Grammar-Translation Method, the Audio-lingual Method and the Cognitive Code Method, has changed to a peripheral role with the advent of the Communicative and the Natural Approaches. The amalgamation of the latter approaches has led to the claim of banning all formal grammar teaching from the curriculum. The introduction of natural learning in the second language classroom through use in communication was favoured instead. The confusion caused by changed perceptions of second language acquisition (SLA) is known as the code communication dilemma. A whole body of research was launched in the field of instructed second language acquisition (ISLA) to address the code-communication dilemma which has become a major concern to second language teachers in the past twenty years. However, very little research on the role of formal instruction in the Communicative Approach has been conducted at senior secondary level in English second language classrooms in South Africa. Therefore, this study offers an empirical investigation of the role of formal instruction in the development of pupils' proficiency in the use of the present and past perfect and perfect continuous tenses in English. A review of literature which deals with the teaching of grammar in major methods and approaches, as well as a survey of ISLA-research on the role of formal instruction, preceeds the empirical investigation. The results of the study seem to indicate a significant role for formal instruction. English second language teachers who follow the Communicative Approach may, then, find it worth their while to implement formal instruction to develop their pupils' proficiency in the use of tenses in English.
- Humanities