“Grammar Scares Me”: An Exploration of American Students’ Perceptions of Grammar Learning
Keywords:Explicit learning, Implicit Knowledge, Grammar, Perception, ZPD, Teaching, First Language
Grammar instruction in SLA contexts has received much scholarly attention ranging from competence levels, teaching methods, learners’ and teachers’ attitudes and perceptions, cross-linguistic transfer, among others. However, research that focuses on American students’ perceptions regarding learning grammar, especially those enrolled in teacher training programs, is still limited. While it is argued that first language learners/users (L1) have the authority of the grammar of their language, it is still important to examine how their antecedent knowledge -naturalistic and/or instructional- of grammar influence their current perceptions and future teaching of grammar. These meanings may leave students with some ambivalent and, at times, misinformed views about grammar. Therefore, in this paper, we report on American students’ perceptions of grammar learning and the extent to which these perceptions are (dis)associated with their grammar performance. Twenty-three American students enrolled in a grammar class in a Midwestern university were given a pre-and post-test divided into three sections, two of which report on their perceptions and one section covers their grammar knowledge. The results of the pre-test suggest that most participants perceived grammar learning as unimportant or irrelevant and such findings correlate with their low performance on the grammar section of the test. However, such perception has been reversed in their post-test responses as they performed higher in the grammar section. The findings suggest that understanding students’ perceptions and using explicit grammar teaching is beneficial in building their scientific knowledge of the world, enhancing their analytic skills, and reducing their fear of grammar.
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