Gabrielatos, C. (2003). Grammar, grammars and intuitions in ELT: A second opinion. IATEFL Issues 170, 2-3.

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Richard Bradford (IATEFL Issues 167: 13) criticises the treatment of grammar in ELT materials and invites the ELT community to do something about the situation. He implies that we should stop using any grammar-related books, because they are riddled with terminology, and their content has little to do with what he terms “humanistic”, “free-range”, “standard” English.


Although his assessment of ELT materials is valid to a large extent, the implications of some of his arguments and solutions invite scepticism. He seems to argue that grammarians are neither (human) language users, nor in touch with reality, to conflate the ‘what’ of grammar teaching with the ‘how’, to advocate reliance on native speaker intuitions, to equate ‘native speaker’ with ‘(good) language teacher’, and to treat grammar books as a uniform category.


I would like to use this response to consider some issues from a different perspective, introduce more aspects to the discussion, and propose alternative solutions.


Relevant details


This is my response to Richard Bradford's article ‘Grammar is by statisticians, language is by humans’, published in IATEFL Issues 167, p. 13, June 2002 [HTML]. The link takes you to a cached page as the original page is no longer accessible.


Key words


Grammar, explicit teaching, corpus linguistics, corpora, reference grammars, pedagogical grammars, teacher knowledge, native speaker intuitions, English language teaching, EFL, ELT, TESOL.



Related articles by the same author



Gabrielatos, C. (2005). Corpora and language teaching: Just a fling, or wedding bells? TESL-EJ 8(4), A1, 1-37.


Gabrielatos, C. (2004). Teaching the expression of time: A concise framework. In Pulverness, A. (ed.) IATEFL 2003. Brighton Conference Selections. Canterbury, Kent: IATEFL, 133-136.

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Gabrielatos, C. (2002). The shape of the language teacher. In Pulverness, A. (ed.), IATEFL 2002: York conference selections. Whitstable, Kent: IATEFL Publications, 75-78.

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Gabrielatos, C. (2002). Shopping at the ELT Supermarket: Principled decisions and practices. ERIC, ED478747.

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Gabrielatos, C. (1994). Minding our Ps. Current Issues, 3, 5-8.

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Related conference paper by the same author



Gabrielatos, C. (2003). Conditional sentences: ELT typology and corpus evidence. Paper given at the 36th Annual BAAL Meeting, University of Leeds, UK, 4-6 September 2003.

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Related edited online discussion


Teaching About Language. TESL-EJ Forum, Karen Stanley (Ed.) TESL Electronic Journal 6(4), 2003.