According to Cope (1993), Traditional grammar was initially based on European languages, Latin and Greek in particular (Rennie, 2014). It was passed down through centuries (around the 17th century until the 19th century) as a method of helping scholars learn Latin and Greek. It was the most widespread and elaborate grammar and is widely used in language teaching, thus titled, pedagogical grammar (Cope, 1993).Traditional grammar adopts the method of parsing- the description and process of the grammatical role of a word in a sentence (Ford, 2004). This approach is one where I can personally relate to as it was the way I was taught to use grammar in school. It continues to be utilised in schools as observed during my teaching rounds.
How is Traditional Grammar taught?
The approach of Traditional grammar usually involved identifying the following five aspects, they include (Ford, 2004):
1. The labeling and identification of elements within the sentence as parts of a subject, object, attribute, adverbial etc.
2. Labeling the parts of speech of each word
3. Highlighting the inflection of words (the change of form in a word, Eg. adding the‘s’ to make a word plural).
4. Describing the relationship between words
5. Discussing the syntax of words.
A comparative analysis
The intention of this comparative analysis is so that teachers can differentiate the enablers and barriers of this teaching approach. The rationale for providing this information is to not disregard its usefulness in teaching and learning grammar in a traditional manner, but rather it emphasises the way teachers can utilise this method in a more meaningful and contextualised style in the classroom.
Advantages of Teaching in a Traditional approach
Disadvantages of Teaching in a Traditional approach
· Primary purpose of speaking and writing is communicate effectively with others
· Commonly accepted method of the organisation expression of words and phrases so that intended meaning is communicated effectively and correctly.
· If grammar is incorrect, the intended message is fragmented and could become awkward in verbal conversation
· Incorrect or misuse of grammar can portray the reader/listener that the communicator is uneducated or unintelligent
· Prescriptive notion of rules for learner
· Places priority on rules rather than on the functions and applications of communication
· It does not discern between all linguistic levels, such as phonology, morphology, syntactic and semantic
· Approach is isolated and impractical to a meaningful context
· No real context or application to learn the parts of speech