The Swedish Curriculum is based on Communicative Language Learning and Teaching. According to most researchers within this field, grammar should be presented following one principle:
WHEN it’s needed and not IN CASE it’s needed.
To help argue my point I found this short article summarising a meta-analysis by Nina Spada and Yasuyo Tomita. This is an excellent article as it gives both the points that some teachers use to try to prove me wrong when I say they should skip grammar lessons, but it also includes exactly the points I rely on and relate to in my teaching.
When teachers read conclusions of research like
“explicit instruction was more effective for both simple and complex language features“, or
“most of the research investigating the effects of instruction on L2 learning indicates that a combination of language-based and meaning-based instructions works better than an exclusive focus on either one”,
they take this to mean that whole-class instruction of grammar rules with follow-up excercises and translations will do the trick. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
When reading current research, you should first clear your mind of your own school-time experiences of grammar lessons and interpret the text outside of that box. When you take the time to study the whole research process or even read the whole short article, you will find out:
“The study does not support teaching grammar in the sequential order in which most coursebooks present it.”
“Explicit instruction of grammar does not mean harking backing to the times of grammar translation, rote memorization of conjugations, or the focus on grammar McNuggets“
The Commentary Material to English for the Swedish Curriculum points this out clearly:
“Linguistic elements like grammatical structures and spelling should be presented only when there is a functional purpose, in order to clarify and enrich the communication.” (My translation)
This article is a follow-up of my two earlier blog posts: Grammar Matters and Why Aren’t There Any Good Textbooks?