Proto-Grammar, Frequency, And The Acquisition Of Structure
University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
Language users employ proto-grammatical structures to express semantic
notions such as 'existence': 'There is a book on the table.' contains a
concrete noun and is more prototypical (but less authentic' than 'There's
a struggle going on.' Language learners expect to see such prototypical
structures in the L2, but also need exposure to authentic language.
There is a tension and an apparent contradiction between presenting
prototypically and presenting authentic language. If we recognize this,
we may have a principled way of organizing syllabus: at low levels, we
introduce prototypical structure; as proficiency increases, we then introduce
less prototypical but more frequent and more authentic examples.
The presenter will show how the sequencing of grammar items should involve
a gradual progression from prototypical examples of language to more frequent
and authentic examples.
Terry Shortall is Course Co-ordinator for the Open Distance Learning
MA TEFL/TESL programmes at the University of Birmingham. He has worked
for many years as an EFL teacher, teacher trainer, and university lecturer,
in Brazil, Portugal and Japan. His main interests are second language acquisition,
L2 grammar, L2 learner attitudes, and translation. He is Reviews Editor
of 'language Awareness', an international journal