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Linguistics and Teaching

Seminararbeit 1999 10 Seiten

Anglistik - Linguistik


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. General Reflections About Linguistics In Connection With Teaching

3. Grammar
3.1. Phonology
3.1.1 The Syllable Final Obstruent Devoicing
3.1.2 Features Proper To a Specific Language Only
3.1.3 The Difference Between w And v In English And German
3.1.4 Phonetic Transcription
3.2. Morphology
3.2.1. Word Formation In English
3.2.2. Word Formation In German
3.3. Syntax
3.3.1 Negatives And Questions
3.3.2 Other Aspects Worth Looking At

4. Beyond Grammar: Semantics And Pragmatics
4.1 Connected Speech: Assimilation, Syllabic Consonants, Weak Forms and Strong Forms
4.2 Vocabulary
4.2.1 Homonymy And Synonymy
4.2.2. “False Friends”
4.2.3 Word By Word – Translations
4.2.4. Variations Within English
4.2.5 Conventions

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography

1. Introduction

“Grammar is what has always made English a school subject.” (Lewis,1993: iii) – Jimmie Hill´s opinion on English as a school subject is one of the simplest put but most accurate views I have ever come across so far. In this short phrase lies far more than one would imagine at first sight. Its explicit message is, of course, that grammar is a feature of great value for a student learning English and I would never contradict that. However, reading and thinking about this short sentence one comes to understand that there must be far more than that to really be able to communicate in English. In his list of principles Michael Lewis puts it as follows: “Successful language is a wider concept than accurate language.” (Lewis, 1993: vi)

That means that in order to communicate not only grammatical competence is required but that there are other factors which need to be considered when teaching English. A student learning a great amount of grammar will not be able to communicate in English if he isn´t, for instance, able to communicate at all, no matter if in his mother tongue or in the language he is newly acquiring because “socio – linguistic competence – communcative power – precedes and is the basis, not the product of grammatical competence.“ (Lewis, 1993: vii) As a consequence, a teacher of English (for Germans) can´t only teach grammar to his students and expect them to be able to fluently and correctly speak English but he or she (I will in the following stick to the masculine form only) is also obliged to keep in mind various long – term aims which cannot be checked on in the form of a test or an essay . Here arises the question about what a teacher of English might want to know about linguistics in order to provide students with the best conditions for successfully communicating in English especially outside the classroom situation. In which way and to what extent should a teacher make use of his linguistic knowledge though ? Should students be made familiar with linguistic theories ? Will it be sufficient if a teacher is aware of these theories and lets them slip into his teaching in class on a secondary basis ? Or should he just forget about linguistics at all because it is too complicated a field to be used in teaching English to high school students ?

2. General Reflections About Linguistics In Connection With Teaching

Bringing students in contact with linguistic theories would maybe help them to get a better understanding of language in general and thus make learning English easier for them. However, it is an idealized view to believe that a teacher can fulfill the syllabus and still add some linguistics on more than a secondary basis because of the restricted amount of time available within the larger scheme, i.e. usually three to five classes a week. So he can either teach only linguistics or only English in a traditional way but never both, and since teaching linguistics in connection with high school teaching would only make sense in combination with English and not the other way round this option seems impossible to really be considered a useful practice. First of all, students are supposed to learn English as such. The other extreme view however, that is forgetting about linguistics at all, would exclude a large field characteristic to language learning and thus wouldn´t really make sense either. You can´t really teach a foreign language without fully understanding it as a whole with all its principles and tasks. This leaves the remaining option of a teacher knowing about and applying linguistics in the course of teaching as the only reasonable solution under the present circumstances in our educational system. A teacher should therefore have at least a basic understanding of what linguistics is about but grammar should be a good point to start from in order to enable students to communicate in English.

3. Grammar

In terms of grammar a teacher of English might want to consider topics such as phonetics, phonology, morphology and syntax in order to provide students with the basis for a successful development of their socio – linguistic competence in a language different from their mother tongue. This also involves grammatical forms not common in the students´ mother tongue, for example the progressive forms of English verbs or the use of various types of ing – form - or infinitive – structures which don´t occur in the same form in languages like German. In this regard it is not only necessary for a teacher to know about the linguistic features characteristic to English but also those characteristic to the students´ mother tongue, in our case German. To better help student acquire a more than sufficient grasp of English it might be helpful to compare the students´ mother tongue and English, to show similarities between them and, even more important, differences and possible sources for mistakes.



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
466 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen – Institute for Anglistics
2,0 (B)
Linguistics Teaching Introduction




Titel: Linguistics and Teaching