I'm all about language teaching being communicative and functional, but I feel like sometimes, you have to give them grammar terminology. Ideally, it would be nice to have purely communicative lessons unhindered by curricular constraints that expose students to input they may or may not be developmentally ready to acquire, but when I picture it playing out, I think a lot of students would be frustrated by an endless relay of inductive lessons where they would be required to rely on their wits and reasoning ability to construct real, acquired linguistic knowledge... actually, wait a minute--that sounds really exciting! Okay, but not all students are interested in being interested in uncovering the mysteries of spoken and written language. Many of them have big important concerns looming overhead: What score will they get on the TOEFL/IELTS/TOEIC/[insert language proficiency test here]? What school will they apply to/gain acceptance from? How will they survive the occasional, unpredictable and yet somehow inevitable gastronomic disturbances from unfamiliar local cuisine? No. We need to be systematic and efficient because time is of the essence. With curriculum objectives and outcomes, teachers don't have time for wild grammar goose chases and I-spy-something-that's-a-fragment in the hopes that something clicks and they "get" it!
But then I stop and think about the utilitarian garble that just came out of my head and feel a sudden uneasiness, like I just felt some empathy by crossing into the orbit of another pedagogical philosophy--the intersection of form-focused and pure communicative approaches:
I always come back to this passage from Nassaji and Fotos (2004):
Extensive research on learning outcomes in French immersion programs by Swain and her colleagues showed that, despite substantial long-term exposure to meaningful input, the learners did not achieve accuracy in certain grammatical forms (Harley & Swain, 1984; Lapkin, Hart, & Swain, 1991; Swain, 1985; Swain & Lapkin, 1989). This research suggested that some type of focus on grammatical forms was necessary if learners were to develop high levels of accuracy in the target language. Thus, communicative language teaching by itself was found to be inadequate (also see Celce-Murcia, Dörnyei, & Thurrell, 1997; R. Ellis, 1997, 2002b; Mitchell, 2000).
(Nassaji and Fotos, 2004, p. 128)
Okay, I can go to bed now, but why can't I shake the feeling that Stephen Krashen is hiding under my bed (metaphorically-speaking, of course)?