Classroom Practices Being Employed by Teachers of English Language to Teach Grammar in Senior Secondary School
Keywords: English grammar, classroom practices and communicative competence.
AbstractThe purpose of this study was to search for classroom practices/exercises which would facilitate communicative competence in the teaching and learning of English grammar in Zambian public secondary schools. This study was informed by the Social Constructivism research paradigm. In addition, descriptive research design was employed. The population for this study included all the public secondary schools in Chongwe district, all the grade eleven teachers and learners of English language. Sample was picked purposively using criterion sampling technique. The sample involved 3 Heads of Department for Literature and Languages, 7 English language subject teachers and 15 grade 11 learners of English language. The study also included one standard educational officer. In total, the sample comprised 26 participants. Data was collected using interview guide, focus group discussion guide, classroom observation guide and document analysis. The findings were analysed thematically. Interview data revealed that both mechanical practices (Cloze exercise, transformation exercise, punctuation exercise, substitution exercise, spelling exercise, choosing a correct sentence, single word prompt) and meaningful practices (composition exercise, situational exercise, reading exercise and constructing own sentences) were used in the teaching and learning of English Grammar by the participants. Some teachers explained that they were encouraged to use meaningful practices more often. It was also indicated that both mechanical and meaningful practices are useful but both teachers and learners had put much emphasis on situational practices. They explained that situational practices/exercise enable the learner to use the language inside and outside the classroom effectively because structures are not taught in isolation but with context of the situation in which they are used. However, during classroom lesson observation, the researcher observed that in all the three lessons, teachers used mechanical practices only. Therefore, teachers need to systematically blend the two types of practices to facilitate learners’ communicative competence. In view of the findings, it is recommended that teachers of English language should make sure that their classroom practices reflect all the four dimension of communicative competence (grammatical, sociolinguistic, discourse and strategic competence). Grammatical competence will help learners master the rules while sociolinguistic competence will enable them know how to apply the rules in different social contexts. Discourse competence aspect helps in presenting ideas in an orderly manner while strategic competence helps in repairing discourses when there is communication breakdown.