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grammatical syllabus


Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214823.1999.x


This is the oldest type of syllabus used in foreign language teaching. It was not until the grammar-translation method became firmly established in the nineteenth century and supplanted the Classical method’, which set out to teach style and rhetoric as well as grammar, that structure came to be seen, until the early 1970s and the proposal of the notional/functional syllabus (see notional/functional syllabuses ), as the major obstacle facing the language learner, and mastery of structure as the key to understanding and using the target language. A grammatical syllabus is assembled first by producing a taxonomy of the structures present in the foreign language, usually identified on the basis of ‘traditional grammar’ (see grammar ). Here ‘structures’ must be understood in a broad sense, and not simply as pertaining to syntax. From among these structures, a selection will next be made as appropriate to the level, duration and purpose of the language course (see Mackey, 1965 : 161ff.). The structures selected are then graded , that is, assigned comparative values in terms of learning difficulty. This is done according to a ‘simplicity metric’, which, however, is essentially intuitive, though informed by contrastive knowledge of the learners’ mother tongue and the foreign language as well as by experience of teaching the latter. For example, it seems to be universally presumed ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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