Metaperspectives in the Teaching of Grammar –

An Interlingual Project

Anita Malmqvist

Department of Modern Languages/German

Umeċ universitet

SE-901 97 Umeċ

Sweden


The introduction of a new national curriculum in 1995 brought about a substantial change  in the conditions of foreign language teaching in Swedish secondary education. First of all, a second foreign language is now compulsory for 85% of the whole population in grades 6-9 of the 9-year compulsory school and 90% of secondary school leavers are expected to complete upper secondary education. Thus, activities in the foreign language classroom must meet the needs of a broad range of learners, differing strongly in motivation, abilities, and learning styles. Consequently, the deductive approach in grammar teaching is no longer effective.

Furthermore, due to a widespread misconception of the components of communicative competence the practising of oral skills, very often reduced to the quantitative aspects, has been given the main attention, at the cost of CR activities.

Also, FL exercises are traditionally based on an atomistic view of language, limiting practice to the morpheme level and leaving little space for content-related aspects, learners’ reflections and creativity. Thus, teacher students, when starting their training at university, do not possess metacognitions about their MT, nor about their foreign language(s). In addition, grammar sometimes has strong negative connotations among both learners and teachers.

Teacher students are a key group when it comes to changing attitudes and approaches. Therefore, the aim of this project is to encourage and enable these to assume a metaperspective regarding the following aspects: language, language description, students’ own learning, and their future teaching. This paper will focus on the first two and present some ideas about how to reach these objectives. The project involves students of MT and SL Swedish as well as students of FL English, German, and French.