Tuesday, September 11, 2012

ReMembering the Sentence

Sharon A. Myers summarizes Conners' "The Erasure of the Sentence." She feels that it is a well-thought-out article about the importance of sentence-based pedagogies, relevant history and connections to linguistic and psychological theories.

Myers argues for the usefulness of sentence combining as a pedagogical strategy.  We can now understand, theoretically, why sentence combining and imitation exercises help students to become more effective writers.  A lot of this relates to corpus linguistics, lexis, and the way phrases are learned in chunks.

Collocations must be learned.  Sentences combining can help with this as well, as such exercises are rich in vocabulary.

When grammar is taught traditionally, idiosyncrasies related to lexis are often not learned.

These idiosyncrasies revolve around register, countability, collocations, whether a verb is transitive or instransitive etc.  Sentence-level grammar is important, but words and such knowledge of words are needed to build sentences.  The grammar of words is important.

Pattern-recognition abilities come into play.  Language learning is not always rule governed.  Humans are extremely sensitive to patterns when exposed to data.

Myers discusses pedagogical perspectives, such as inductive approaches, trends in communicative language teaching and the growing importance of emphasizing lexis.

Templates can be used to teach grammatical structures.  Templates can relate to students' specific fields.

Concordancing is also a powerful tool for modeling sentences and teaching word grammar.

There is a place for sentence pedagogies.  New exercises using knowledge from corpus linguistics can be implemented.  Furthermore, while composition theorists have largely stopped considering non-English theories, Myers hopes that work in other fields, such as linguistics and psychology should be incorporated if such knowledge is useful to students.

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