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Teacher and Student Views Towards the Role of Grammar Instruction in UAE Universities

Landolsi, Siham
A Master of Arts thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Siham Landolsi entitled, "Teacher and Student Views Towards the Role of Grammar Instruction in UAE Universities," January 2011. Available are both hard and soft copies of the thesis.
Grammar teaching has always been a very controversial topic in the field of second language acquisition. Whether or not to teach grammar remains an unresolved issue. However, there has been a common accord toward the value of teaching grammar. Learners need grammar integrated into communicative activities to reach both fluency and accuracy. Besides, the role of grammar instruction has also been raised from the perspective of students' and teachers' perceptions. Many studies have attempted to investigate what L2 students and teachers really think of grammar and whether there are discrepancies in beliefs between the two groups. Teachers' beliefs have received recent interest by researchers and have been acknowledged to be central in language teaching. In other words, teacher cognition, that is what language teachers think, know, and believe, is closely linked to instructional decisions and, thus, teaching practices. The store of beliefs and experiences of language teachers about language and grammar teaching influence the way they teach. The objective of my study was to explore teacher and student perceptions regarding the role of grammar instruction in learning another language, in this case English. By comparing the perceptions held by the teachers and the students, this study also aimed to look for any similarities and differences in perceptions between these two groups. In addition, the study sought to closely examine teachers' beliefs about grammar teaching and looked for any differences between native English speaking (NES) teachers and nonnative English speaking (NNES) teachers. The methods used in this investigation included questionnaires and teachers' interviews. The results indicate that the majority of the teachers in this study appreciated the value of grammar for their students. In general, teachers believed that grammar is important to learn English, but the opinions slightly differed when comparing native and non-native teachers' results. In this sample, the NES teachers all agreed that grammar instruction was important and useful to learn a second language while not all the NNES teachers agreed on that. As far as students were concerned, they believed grammar teaching is necessary and useful for them to learn English. However, some discrepancies existed between the teachers and the students. There wasn't an agreement when it came to keeping grammatical rules in mind when writing. The students felt more than the teachers that they were keeping grammatical rules when they wrote (75% vs. 62%). The students all believed that the study of formal grammar was essential to the mastery of a second language compared to the teachers. The students were also more convinced of the importance to know grammar to learn English. A large majority of students (84%) believed that their communicative ability would improve most quickly if they studied and practiced the grammar of the language. Only 50% of the teachers believed so. Another major discrepancy (41%) regards the belief that there should be more formal study of grammar in classrooms. While 72% of the students believed there should be more formal grammar instruction, only 31% of the teachers believed so. Finally, a large majority of the teachers thought their students disliked the study of grammar while only very few students attested that they did not like grammar study. This study suggests some implications for teachers and language teaching and learning in general.
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