LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Autor:||Ricardo - EMB -|
|Data:||04/NOV/2005 3:30 PM|
|Assunto:||Native speakers' inability to explain grammar|
You said: Native speakers, even the well educated ones, seem to be incapable of articulating how the English grammar functions, even though he/she instinctually employs perfect rules of grammar in his/her conversations. Likewise, semi-native speakers such as myself seem to have the same problems.
Dale and you are right and your statements illustrate a very simple fact: that language proficiency is very little related to grammar knowledge.
You also asked: Now my question is, were an educated native speaker or I to engage in an intensive teaching program, how long would it take this hypothetical native or me to be able to clearly articulate how English grammar functions as well as you can?
It would take very little time. The huge task - to acquire proficiency in the language, either as a native or as a second language - has already been accomplished. After that, every rule the native or the near-native come across with will be easily learned and even the exceptions (not to mention the pronunciation!!) will all make sense because they match what your ears are familiar with. To reverse this order in the case of those that intend to become near-native can be very frustrating.
I was already fluent when for the first time I was asked to "teach" English conversation. My first reaction was to decline the invitation, but this school director in Japan insisted and I decided to face the new challenge. Although I was able to help the students, I was not able to answer the simplest grammar questions. My answer to the 'why' questions in the beginning would always be: Because that's the way people speak in English...
Ricardo - EMB
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