Pedagogical Grammar: Prescriptive and Descriptive

Grammar forms a basis of teaching all languages and enhances both the writing and communicative skills of the learners.  Through the teaching of grammar, language learners are able to acquire the correct structures which are acceptable in the specific language.  For quite some long now, there have been some contesting views on which approach is the most appropriate and is more likely to yield more in a classroom setting. Language teachers constantly raise concerns to the specialists questioning whether there is much value attached to descriptive grammar than the prescriptive grammar. The prescriptivism approach is linked to traditional grammar while the descriptivism approach is attributed to communicative/functional grammar (McDonough, et al., 2013, p. 72). The prescriptive grammar approach lays more focus on the correctness of the structures unlike the descriptive approach which stresses on the need to develop both grammatical and performance competence. The key objective of this paper is to carry out an in-depth analysis of the two modes of teaching grammar closely drawing from two tasks one derived from the traditional grammar and the other one from the functional grammar.  In this assignment, I will follow the Askeland’s model to back up my conclusions. The model advocates for a holistic approach in grammar teaching:  grammatical and performance competence. Askeland concludes that as much as there is need to acquire the correct grammar structures, the teachers should not overlook the role played by interaction in grammar acquisition (Askeland, 2013, p. 82). This paper is divided into four sections with the first two providing an analysis tasks framed in traditional grammar approach and the functional grammar approach respectively. The third section attempts to redesign the first task in the first paragraph to make it more relevant linguistically and suit the needs of the learners. The fourth section of this paper will sum up all the content in the previous parts and outline of my personal learning though I the third person point of view.The prescriptive approach of teaching grammar is founded on accuracy/correctness and inaccuracy/incorrectness which are majorly derived from traditional grammar (Hewings & Hewings , 2005). It emphasizes a set of rules and norms that govern the use of a specific language. This mode of teaching is much focusses on the syllabus provided in the textbook. In the context of prescriptive teaching and learning, the learners are expected to develop the ability to construct grammatically correct sentences. As thus, learning occurs consciously. Typically, the traditional approach is based on drills, filling gaps in sentences and transformational activities (Askeland, 2013). The instructor in the classroom plays a visible role controlling the entire process and acts as a supervisor rather than as a facilitator. The teacher in this case is supposed to declare the answers given as either right or wrong. The picture shot below is a perfect example of a task that can be given in a typical prescriptive grammar classroom context.