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Course description

Learning & Teaching Methods


Reading list

Teaching and Learning Grammar (LG 636)


The general aim of the module is to provide an overview of the teaching and learning of grammar in the context of second language (L2) learning. The first part of the module focuses on issues related to learning (of L2 grammar); the second part focuses on issues related to teaching (of L2 grammar).


In the first part of the module, the concept of explicit (conscious) knowledge and learning will be introduced and contrasted with implicit (non-conscious) knowledge and learning. Focusing on the learning of L2 grammar, we will look at factors that might influence a learner’s acquisition and use of explicit knowledge. We will examine the concept of metalinguistic knowledge (knowledge about language) and discuss research into explicit knowledge and learning. We will also consider Processing Instruction, an approach to teaching grammar which is directly based on insights about L2 learning.


In the second part of the module, we will focus on current issues in the teaching of pedagogical grammar in the L2 classroom. We will explore some of the considerations which could help teachers make informed pedagogical decisions about L2 grammar, e.g. the selection of grammar features to be taught, and when and how we should teach grammar. We will also discuss error correction and the provision of feedback in the context of grammar teaching. A selective overview of pedagogical approaches and techniques used for grammar teaching and associated materials will be provided.


Having completed the module, students will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • The complex relationship between theory and practice as exemplified by research into learning and the application of such research to classroom teaching;
  • the concepts of explicit and implicit knowledge and learning, noticing, awareness, and metalinguistic knowledge;
  • key research findings relating to explicit knowledge and learning, especially with regard to the learning of L2 grammar;
  • current issues in the teaching of grammar;
  • aspects of task and syllabus design and its relationship to the teaching of grammar in the L2 classroom, e.g. different approaches and their implications in relation to pedagogical grammar;
  • the place of grammar in the classroom and selected classroom approaches to grammar teaching;
  • the concept of practice for L2 development in the context of grammar teaching;
  • the concept of feedback and awareness of current debates regarding its role in grammar learning and teaching;
  • issues explored throughout the term which allow for the critical assessment of pedagogical tasks and materials for grammar teaching.

Learning & teaching methods

One 2-hour class per week for 10 weeks, with a balance of lecture-type instruction and seminar-type activities, as required. Lectures will provide an overview of key concepts and research findings; seminar time will focus on student-centred tasks, follow-up exercises, and discussion of issues raised in the lectures and associated module readings. Discussion and questions from students are encouraged throughout.


Assessment consists of a 3,000-word assignment. There will be a choice of topics which will allow students to focus either on the teaching or the learning of grammar, depending on their interests.

Reading suggestions

There is no single set textbook, but students who wish to prepare for the course are advised to look at some or all of the following. Note that a full reading list is provided on the CMR.


Celce-Murcia, M., & Larsen-Freeman, D. (1999). The Grammar Book: ESL/EFL Teacher's Course. Second Edition. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

DeKeyser, R. M. (2003). Implicit and explicit learning. In C. J. Doughty & M. H. Long (Eds.), The Handbook of Second Language Acquisition (pp. 313-348). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Dörnyei, Z. (2009). The Psychology of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, N. C. (2005). At the interface: Dynamic interactions of explicit and implicit language knowledge. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27(2), 305-352.

Ellis, R. (2004). The definition and measurement of L2 explicit knowledge. Language Learning, 54(2), 227-275.

Ellis, R. (2006). Current issues in the teaching of grammar: an SLA perspective. TESOL Quarterly, 40(1), 83-107.

Ellis, R., Loewen, S., Elder, C., Erlam, R., Philp, J., & Reinders, H. (2009). Implicit and Explicit Knowledge in Second Language Llearning. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Hinkel, E., & Fotos, S. (Eds.) (2002). New Perspectives on Grammar Teaching in Second Language Classrooms. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2003). (2003). Teaching Language: From Grammar to Grammaring. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2009). Teaching and testing grammar. In M. Long & C. Doughty (Eds.), The Handbook of Language Teaching (pp. 518-542). Malden MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Nassaji, H., & Fotos, S. (2011). Teaching Grammar in Second Language Classrooms: Integrating Form-Focused Instruction in Communicative Context. London: Routledge.

Pennington, M. (Ed.) (1995). New Ways in Teaching Grammar. TESOL. 

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25 January 2018


Department of Language and Linguistics

University of Essex

Wivenhoe Park,

Colchester CO4 3SQ