Action Research Template

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Teaching Grammar through communicative activities

For many teachers grammar represents a skill that should be taught by explanations and written exercises. But most of the EFL learners are interested on develop communicative skills through an English course. Nowadays, EFL learners require other kinds of grammar methods for learning English; these methods have to be based on dynamic activities, in order to achieve grammatical ability.

English teachers around the world provide grammar explanations to help EFL learners but following a deductive method, in which students have to memorize structures. This kind of method does not demand creativity from teachers, something that affects EFL learners´ develop of language.

Teaching language has to be seen as a complete set of tools that provide students the opportunity of use language also for communicative purposes. Nowadays our globalized environment requires more than gramatical structures in order to succeed in any situation.

The present research is based on the following questions: Are students able to learn grammar clearly from a communicative perspective? Is explicit grammar important for EFL learners? Do grammar explanations enough to satisfy the present need in the field of communicative language?

Through active practice of grammar EFL learners have more opportunities to improve their use of language.

This research will determine how many students are able to improve their speaking skills since a practical grammar practice. The implementation of a dynamic class and a set of questionnaires will give information about it. The information will be discussed and analyzed. This research also gathers pertinent data as changes on EFL learners´ oral production and problems that they could face during the class these aspects will be the focus of this research. However, every research has its own limitations since the implementation of instruments to the acceptance and results of EFL learners will be studied and analyzed in this research.

Educators and linguistics around the world have studied the role that grammar plays in conveying meaning of communication. One of the most famous theories is based on the idea that learners learn L2 naturalistically interacting with native speakers. Other theories tried to prove if grammatical explanations promote L2 communicative ability or grammatical explanations just confuse EFL learners and increase their levels of anxiety. Most of these theories have proved through different methods and techniques in EFL classrooms. About grammar and communicative ability an eclectic model is the option, because every student learns in a different way each one of these personal conditions determine the type of method or technique required in the classroom, according to individual needs, goals and learning style.

The process of development and acquisition of language is different in each EFL learner.About grammar learning process, deductive grammar knowledge refers to learn consciously grammar structures and their meanings. This type of grammar is slow and students learn language in a mechanical way. On the other hand, inductive grammar knowledge where students practice grammar to examples and they figure out the grammatical rule and practice it through gap- filling tasks. Another process that is based on natural communication is called implicit grammar knowledge, where students are able to practice language forms through conversations; through this process EFL learners assimilate new information in a fast way.

Other linguistics as Celce-Murcia (1991) identified two categories about learning grammar and communicative ability based on grammar assessments. One of these categories refers that EFL learners based their interest of leraning a second languae on self motivation and personal goals. The second one of these categories mentioned that a EFL learner keeps this motivation when he notices that is able to produce language accuratelly.

For Larsen Freeman (1997)to teaching grammar in communicative language teaching contexts is necessary to know that grammatical knowledge is based on three dimensions. The first one of those dimensions is linguistic form. Grammatical form refers to morphology and syntactic and how words work together, in order to transmit an idea, this idea should show accuracy. Regarding to, the second dimension that is called semantic meaning that describes the hide intention of the message and how the speaker handle language for communicative purposes. The last one of the three dimensions is pragmatic use. This dimension refers to when and why a message should be use according to contexts or environments. According to Larsen Freeman the three dimensions of communicative language teaching help teachers to verify if students are able to produce language communicatively not just in a written way.

Method and Materials


The participants of this research are eight students from Fomento Program (II level) at Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes. Their ages go from 20 to 24 years old. The course is a general English course. The participants are good about their use of grammar but they need to develop more their communicative ability.


The instruments of this research are two. The first one is a teacher observation sheet. This observation sheet contains five aspects that will evaluate students´ performance during the speaking activity. The five aspects are: Fluency, interaction, vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar. These five aspects will be graded from one to five. The number one in each item represents that the evaluated student presents problems in the area. Numbers from two to four represent the level of progress, and finally number five represents a good level in the graded area. The observation sheet will be answered by me, using my observations as teacher and the collected data from a video that will be recorded during students´ performance. The second instrument used in this research is a questionnaire. This questionnaire is formed by eight open items. Each one of the questions have as purpose to collect students´ opinions related to their attitude towards English, their personal objective of study English, their opinion about deductive grammar explanations versus communicative activities. Another of the questions is regarding to the classification of aspects of language most important for them. These aspects of language are: Fluency, vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar accuracy. Students will choose from one to four, being number one the most important and so on. The last three ask students compare a traditional grammar explanation versus to a communicative class, and what kind of teaching procedure they consider more appropriate in order to develop communicative ability. In addition, a question related to the easiest and hardest aspects of language that interfere with their speaking ability. Moreover I will use a video camera in order to record students´ performance and then this video will be contrast with results from the teacher observations during the class.


The class will take place on November 9th 2011 at 12:00 o´ clock. The first activity of the class will be about driving and traffic jams. Students will listen and read at the same time an article of someone´ driving experiences. After the audio I will mention that the text was written in simple present. I will start a deductive grammar explanation of simple present and the use of the letter S for the third singular person. After the explanation, I will ask students to write their own story about driving using simple present. Later I will ask them to share their information with a partner. I will give students five minutes in order to share their information. When they finish of sharing the information, I will ask them to talk about the story of their partner without notes or any written support. Students will start to talk and practice simple present through sentences as: He drive, he arrives and so on.

Results and Data Analysis

Of seven students respondents 6 of them answer that study English is important for them, because they would like to find good job opportunities. Just one of them answer that he does not feel attraction for learning English. Regarding to the second question, the seven respondents answer that they prefer to learn English through communicative situations. They express that Grammar is important, they consider that Grammar has an important role in the English course, but also they consider that Grammar deductive explanations are boring and little useful for them, especially because they are interested on produce natural language by themselves. About the third question the seven respondents agreed that through English classes based on Grammar and written exercises they will never achieve communicative competence. They express that English classes have to be dynamic and the interaction between them in communicative activities is indispensable, in order to achieve their communicative objective. In question number four the seven respondents agreed that through communicative activities in the classroom they have the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions and represent a good opportunity to acquire vocabulary and enhance pronunciation. Also they consider that is indispensable that English teacher creates environments where they can practice English in communicative situations. In question number five two of the seven respondents agreed that in a scale from one to four Grammar is the number one. One of them express: “The correct use of Grammar when I talk is the most important aspect for me; I believe that accuracy in speaking is the base of everything, but the presentation of grammatical points through deductive grammar explanations should be avoided by the teacher” (Personal communication, 2011). Following the same scale in question number five, three of the seven respondents expressed that vocabulary is the number one, because they believe that in order of being successful in communication is necessary to have enough vocabulary. Finally two of the seven respondents agreed that fluency is their main goal. One of them expressed: “Fluency helps to establish a good communication in English” (Personal communication, 2011). With regard to question number six the seven respondents agreed that activities of role play or simulations in class helps their communicative development, even though their answers follow the same objective each one of the respondents showed a different point of view. For instance, one of the respondents answer: “Through these kinds of activities you as student can learn grammar, because in communicative practice you can notice the clear difference between the English and the Spanish structure” (Personal communication 2011). Moreover the rest of the respondents agreed that communicative activities like role play, simulations, discussions and debates are a perfect option, in order to solve doubts related to language structure and correct use. Also they assume that English teacher that designs the communicative activities has to be skillful and creative. Finally they opine that through communicative activities they get fun and is easier to remember structures or vocabulary. In relation to question number seven three of the seven respondents opined that the aspect that difficult their use of language is lack of practice. They believe that is indispensable that the English teacher promotes the use of real language inside the classroom. The other four participants agreed that grammar when they talk is the most noticeable problem that affects their communicative competence inside and outside the classroom. With respect to the last question six of the seven respondents agreed that activities where they need to report others’ information was hard. They agreed that the lack of practice of these kind of activities difficult their oral performance. Just one of the respondents believes that even though he is not able to speak perfectly, he opines that this activity facilitates his language learning.


According to my research questions: Are students able to learn grammar clearly from a communicative perspective? Are deductive grammar explanations important for EFL learners? Do deductive grammar explanations enough to satisfy the present need in the field of communicative language? I believe that the results that I got from the questionnaire show that EFL students are able to learn grammar by the practice of communicative activities. I could notice that they show good attitude regarding to communicative activities. Actually most of them opined that the EFL teacher needs to take more advantage of these kinds of activities and promotes the students’ participation. With respect to the second of my research questions the participants of this research expressed that they consider that Grammar is the base of the good use of language in oral or written from, but they think that deductive grammar explanations are boring and useless, because for them is hard to shift from written to communicative competence. In accordance to my last research question, I as researcher believe that deductive grammar explanations are not enough in order to achieve communicative competence, because ELF learners want to learn English in order to establish communication find a good job and understand aspect related to their majors. For that reasons, I consider that my intervention worked, because students were exposed to a deductive grammar explanation and later they could practice the same topic in a communicative way. My hypothesis agrees with their results. They require more authentic use of language in the classroom for many reasons. One of these important reasons is decrease their levels of anxiety when they speak. I believe that if ELF students are constantly exposed to communicative activities they will achieve their communicative purposes. Also they increase their motivation to study English, because English classes are not boring and repetitive. In communicative classes students are free to create, opine, discover and being truly involved in their language learning. When EFL students are involved in the classroom activities they feel comfortable, because they are learning in a healthy environment, where they are the center of the class and not the teacher. As a recommendation, I would like to recommend that this research might be applied to a big group in order to obtain more opinions about how an EFL learner believes that the process of a second language should be, furthermore could be interesting to investigate more about the roles of teacher and students in the process of a second language learning. I consider that this research can be extended taking into account students’ personal issues. Most of the times, shy students do not show improvements in their language developments, because they have personal problems. I consider that could be interesting to investigate more about these problems and look for as researcher and teacher for good communicative activities where every student can feel comfortable and able to produce natural language. In personal opinion, I think that an EFL teacher has to take into account every single detail that can affect students’ development. In this way the EFL teacher can change and look for new options in order to improve EFL classes and activities. I opine that communicative activities in the classroom are like to take the outside environment and bring it inside the EFL classroom. If a EFL teacher promotes real environment in the classroom at the end of the course EFL learners will be able to produce natural language and succeed outside the classroom. About the limitations of this research I believe that the biggest one is when students do not find the object for studying English, when they believe that English is a requirement for getting a job and that it. When a EFL teacher face these kinds of problems, could be difficult involve these kinds of students in the language learning process, but not impossible. In the past the study of language was based on deductive grammar explanations, the traslation of pieces of written language or repetition of drills. I consider that approaches as Grammar translation method nowadays represents and unfashionable and useless option for EFL classes, because EFL teachers have to be a guide a facilitator not the center of the educative practice. Commonly in the practice of these methods students have a passive interaction with the target language so far to authentic communication. At present ELF students feel motivation to learn a second language, when their opinions, feelings, thoughts and ideas are taking into account in the classroom. Most of the EFL learns feel attraction for the English culture and the opportunities that a second language offers to their personal and professional future life. As a result, they are interested on English classes based on communicative activities. Fortunately, at present EFL teachers have as option base their teaching practice in theories like From Grammar to Grammaring. Along to this research is noticiable that theories where students are involve in communicative activities are attractive and motivating for them. Moreover it was proved that teaching practice can be attractive and dynamic, without avoid important aspects of language as Grammar. To create a real necessity of establishing communication in the target language is challenging for EFL learners for that reason their show good attitude towards target language through communicative activities.


Purpura E.J. (2004). Assessing Grammar. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Larseen F.D. (2003). Teaching Language From Grammar to Grammaring. Canada: Thomson Heinle

Thornbury S. (2011). Uncovering Grammar. New York: Macmillan Heinemann

Geoffrey L., Svartik S. (1975) A communicative Grammar of English. New York: Longman

Pekoz B. (2008) Integrating Grammar for Communicative Language Teaching. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XIV, No. 10. Retrieved from:

Sarwar A. Teaching English Grammar through Communicative Language Teaching Approach in the context of Bangladesh. Articlebase. Retrieved from:

Nassaji, H. (2000). Towards Integrating Form Focused Instructions and Communicative Interaction in the Second Language Classroom: Some Pedagogical Possibilities. The Modern Language Journal, 84(2) Retrieved from:

Gammar and Structure of the English Language. Retrieved from:



  • Please see comments above. --Bnleez 13:47, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Note: For those taking Applied Linguistics for credit, please do the following:

  • Copy and paste the template above as a subpage to your user page.
  • Adhere to the following approximate word count per section...
    • Context of the problem should be 800 words
    • Method and Materials should be 500 words
    • Results and Data Analysis should be 500 words
    • Discussion should be 1,000 words that includes a 250-word conclusion.

Note: For those taking Applied Linguistics for credit, please do the following:

   * Copy and paste the template above as a subpage to your user page.
   * Adhere to the following approximate word count per section...
         o Context of the problem should be 800 words
         o Method and Materials should be 500 words
         o Results and Data Analysis should be 500 words
         o Discussion should be 1,000 words that includes a 250-word conclusion.


  • This is just a reminder to refer to this video before emailing me your final draft. If you have any questions about APA, come by my office.--Bnleez 21:58, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Eli, try using the template we discussed in class. See Adriana's page as an example. --Bnleez 14:10, 2 October 2011 (UTC)