The following is from John de Mado
"Considering the Role of Grammar in the Language Acquisition Process"

Which inevitably leads us to a critical question.

Before one frets about miscommunication, what must come first?

Communication is, of course, the answer.

Less than accurate communication has always predated accurate language usage. That is precisely why we don't panic when our six year olds say things like "I eated…I runned…I writed." We naturally assume that, over time, the non-standard usage will give way to the standard.

The movement of language is, in fact, always from non-standard toward standard.
Clearly, many language teachers either ignore this fact or don't support the thesis. In our passion for accurate (standard) language, we present grammar prior to and outside the context of communication. Is it any wonder why so many of our students leave the classroom with a heightened grammatical knowledge yet lack the ability to communicate proficiently in L2? History suggests that we are more successful at remediating English than we have ever been at transmitting second languages to our students.

Structure, when viewed in isolation, delivers very little communicatively. Consider the word 'brings' uttered out of context. What does it mean? The mind instinctively seeks communication. Finding none, it naturally moves to a secondary function; identification. Brings…Third person singular…present tense…Indicative mood…The infinitive 'to bring'. How many of our students are more apt to identify parts of speech than communicate proficiently at some level in the second language? Are we actually emphasizing the non-communicative side of language in our classrooms? (Interestingly enough, the only structural point that carries meaning out of context is the imperative.) The rules of any given language should not subvert the language acquisition process.


It is important to consider error, not as the end of the world, but rather as the beginning of the language acquisition process. True learning comes about in the subtle shift from error to non-error.

In the language acquisition process, it would be advantageous for us to view grammatical accuracy as a destination rather than a starting point.


Linda's Note:
NOVICE: Grammar is deceivingly accurate because phrases used are highly-practiced, memorized and repetitive. (ex: Me llamo . . . Soy de ..... Estoy bien, gracias . . . Me gusta la .... -- all irregular or difficult, but "acquired.")
INTERMEDIATE: You'll feel as if you're students have "lost everything you taught them." That's normal and appropriate, because at this level you want them to begin to "CREATE LANGUAGE" - to compose messages that mean something to them (not a memorized phrase) using the vocabulary and grammar that they've acquired thus far. Greg Duncan of Interprep, Inc., called this period, "very messy."
ADVANCED: This is where you'll begin to see grammar become more consistently correct. You'll still see many errors in the subtlety of language, especially where it differs from English (ex: ser/estar, adjective agreement, imperfect/preterite - but it is in the PAST, etc.)