Understanding Grammar in Context:
A Step-by-Step Guide
Drissia CHOUIT, Ph.D.
Abdelhamid NFISSI, Ph.D.
Dépôt Légal : 2018MO5469
We dedicate this book to the memory of
Henri Adamczewski, founder of
The goal of this book is to make the teaching/learning
of grammar enjoyable. It intends to raise awareness about the importance of exploring grammar in context, and to present an easy-to-follow guide to teaching and understanding grammar in context.
Explanations in this book are based on two keys pillars: they are based on authentic examples, presented in their natural contexts of use; and they are explained within a theoretical framework which takes
into consideration both the linguistic and communication components involved in discourse production. This is a new approach to teaching grammar in context. We do believe that simply applying traditional grammatical rules to examples in-context has
at least two limitations. First, this approach does not help students to understand grammar-in-use because it simply reproduces the list of grammatical rules, for example rules for using the present simple, and applies each one of these rules to examples given
in context. Even if examples are presented in context, students approach them with the rationale of lists of rules and exceptions to the rules. Most of the time, however, neither the rule nor the exception to the
rule can explain examples as simple as this one: "Now the Queen walks to the throne" (heard on BBC Radio during the coronation of Queen
Elizabeth). Second, even if students are given the opportunity to be exposed to examples as they are produced in real life situations, they are not able to explain in a systematic way the use of a particular grammatical form in a particular context. For example,
what is the common ground between the example given above about the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and the following example?
The water in the bowl gently ripples over the breeze. Large
ships push forward slowly, and the water foams about the
extended oars that beat a fixed rhythm. (T. Vilhjalmsson:
Quick Quick Said the Bird,
What we want our students to understand via examples in context, on the contrary, is how language functions and the systematic nature
of natural languages. In other words, when students know how language works, they learn it easily and effectively, and they master the use of grammatical forms in context. This is why we highlight in this book the importance of the adequacy of the theoretical
approach adopted to explain grammatical forms in context. We need a theory able to account for the abstract mechanisms underlying the processing of utterances in various contexts, and not simply reflecting events happening in the outside -extralinguistic-
world. We have adopted Metaoperational Grammar to this effect. It is a Linguistic Grammar of English, based on research in linguistics and communication, that relies on the conception of language as an abstract system with its own organizing mechanisms
and that combines linguistics and communication strategies in explaining grammar in context.