By: Jovy O. Suaze, Teacher III
Crisanto Guysayko Memorial Elementary School
“You is beautiful.”
Did the first line bother you and make you instantly want to correct it? If your answer is yes, then you can be considered a grammar-nazi. This is a term commonly used to refer to people who like to correct grammatical errors in sentences uttered by other people; nevertheless, I know that we were able to understand what the sentence would like to mean.
We know, that as English teachers, it is our job to teach our students the proper grammatical structures of sentences. From teaching them the eight parts of speech to identifying the proper use of each word in a sentence, we love our students to be able to learn and apply them properly on their own.
The question is, as our learners’ native tongue is not English, are we just asking our learners to chug down on their throat these grammar rules and all? Your answer may be Yes and No. Yes, because these are essential to learning of our learners to have the idea for them to construct sentences in English; and No, because without proper application of these ideas, learning it would be futile.
According to some studies conducted, second language learners have shown to be often passive in language classrooms and lessons. Several factors could be attributed to this, but one thing is certain, English teachers need to improve the confidence of their learners to use the language. If they have the confidence to speak the language, they would be able to face anyone – even the world.
Our curriculum has what we call grammar topics. This aims to develop grammatical competence which is the knowledge of the grammatical elements of the language and the ability to use them in speech. For our students to speak in a grammatically correct structure makes us proud in a way that yes, they have learned something from us; but if we are aiming to improve and develop the speaking skills of our learners, is grammatical competence the one that we should aim for?
This is where communicative competence comes in. It refers to a learner’s ability to use language to communicate successfully which requires the following: grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence, and strategic competence. This involves developing language proficiency through meaningful interactions in various contexts. To provide authentic opportunities for our students, they will be able to go beyond just mere repetition and memorization of grammatical patterns in isolation.
Through this kind of setup, our students become confident in speaking the language. They would be able to express their thoughts and feelings in ways they could. Balancing grammatical versus communicative competence results in well-developed communication skills. There would be times that our learners might be overwhelmed with things that are happening around them especially if they have been asked by the teacher to speak in front of a class; however, if they are equipped with the right knowledge and mindset, our learners would become excellent speakers of the English language.
Still, speaking anxiety is common among our students. In a classroom during English class, and the teacher asks learners to answer a question in English, why is it that most of them – even if they know the answer – wouldn’t want to try to raise their hand? The fear of not being understood is very common among students. As teachers, let us develop communicative competence in our students so they become competent in the real world.
English is a fun language to learn. All we need is for our learners to be reminded that the first step to learning this language is to have confidence in themselves. At least try to speak the language from time to time. It’s okay to make mistakes as no one became good at something overnight. Remember to learn the grammar, then apply it in every part of your life to communicate with others. In this language-learning journey, always aim for English skills competence needed by everyone.