Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 11 November 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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M. S. Thirumalai


A Comparative Study of the Effect of
Explicit-inductive and Explicit-deductive Grammar Instruction in
EFL Contexts
A Case Study of Persian Learners of English

Seyed Jalal Abdolmanafi Rokni, Ph.D. Candidate


This paper intends to study the effect of explicit-inductive and explicit-deductive grammar instruction on the acquisition of relative clauses by Persian learners of English. The two intact classes were randomly assigned to one of the treatments, inductive or deductive.

Both groups received instruction about English relative clauses using the explicit-inductive (experimental group), or the explicit-deductive (control group). They were administered three similar but not identical tests namely, a pretest, posttest, and a delayed posttest containing Sentence Combining Test and Grammaticality Judgment Test.

The findings displayed that both groups significantly increased their overall learning outcomes from the pretest to the posttest, but the experimental group scored significantly higher than the control group. Also, both groups scored consistently scored higher on the GJT than on the SCT, but the experimental group scored significantly higher that the control group on both the SCT and the GJT.

Key words: explicit-inductive, explicit-deductive, relative clauses


The debate of grammar teaching has been an on-going one for over 2000 years (Howart, 1984). The need for grammar instruction is once again attracting the attention of second language acquisition (SLA) researchers and teachers (Nassaji & Fotos, 2004). There is now convincing indirect and direct evidence to support the teaching of grammar (R. Ellis, 2006). Ellis stipulated that grammar teaching can help students enhance both their language proficiency and accuracy, facilitate the internalization of the syntactic system of the second or foreign language, and also supplement the development of fluency.

Moreover, grammar teaching can contribute to both "acquired knowledge as well as learned knowledge" (Ellis). In addition, Celce-Murcia (1991) claims that because these "explicit, direct grammatical elements are gaining significance in teaching communicative abilities and skills" (as cited in Li, 1998).

Further, grammar is thought to furnish the basis for a set of language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. In listening and speaking, grammar plays a crucial part in grasping and expressing spoken language (e.g. expressions) since learning the grammar of a language is considered necessary to acquire the capability of producing grammatically acceptable utterances in the language (Corder, 1988)


In reading, grammar enables learners to comprehend sentence interrelationship in a paragraph, a passage and a text. In the context of writing, grammar allows the learners to put their ideas into intelligible sentences so that they can successfully communicate in a written form. Lastly, in the case of vocabulary, grammar provides a pathway to learners how some lexical items should be combined into a good sentence so that meaningful and communicative statements or expressions can be formed (Widodo, 2006).

The Instructional Approaches

The instructional approaches to grammar commonly assume that "focusing on linguistic form aids the acquisition of grammatical knowledge" and this assumption has been true for both inductive and deductive methods of L2 grammar teaching (Cadierno-Lopez, 1992).

Depending on various situations in their EFL classrooms, EFL teachers have employed one of the two subtypes of explicit instructional approaches to L2 grammar: an explicit-deductive method, in which foreign language teachers apply a general grammatical rule or pattern to particular examples of a grammatical point, and which involves rule explanations at the beginning of the grammar lesson before students engage in language practice (Shaffer, 1989; Green & Hecht, 1992), and an explicit-inductive method, in which students are first exposed to sufficient examples of language use of a grammatical point, generate rules or patterns, directly attend to particular forms, and try to arrive at metalinguistic generalizations on their own (Rosa & O'Neil, 1999; Erlam, 2003; Kim, 2007).

Explicit-Inductive versus Explicit-Deductive Instruction

Due to conflicting debates in the previous research on two different types of L2 grammar instruction methods, the explicit-inductive versus explicit-deductive instruction and being a teacher for over ten years getting involved with the problem of presenting grammar in an EFL context in Iran, I was determined to investigate the comparative effects of these two instructional types in Iranian university-level learners.

One way this can be done is by focusing on one grammatical point, using English relative clauses in order to investigate which instructional approach, explicit-inductive or explicit-deductive, is more effective for both the accurate production and correct judgment of the grammatical point. This will provide information as to what the better way is to help Iranian university-level learners improve grammatical competence for SLA, and to suggest better implications for L2 grammar instruction in the Iranian university and also high school-level classroom contexts.

Explicit and Implicit Methods

Presenting new rules or patterns about L2 grammar structures, teachers have commonly used two specific types of grammar teaching methods explicit or implicit.

Since in implicit instruction method "no overt mention of the target grammatical point" (as cited in Fotos, 2002) is made and it also is dependent on the learners' access to abundant in-class communicative materials containing the target structures (Fotos), recently, many studies have reported the strong evidence showing the superiority of explicit grammar instruction over implicit instructional approaches to grammar in EFL contexts (DeKeyser, 1997). Explicit grammar instruction is an instructional method which involves explanation and practice/experience processing input data (VanPatten & Cadierno, 1993).

As Fotos (2002) claimed learners benefit from explicit grammar instruction prior to implicit-focused activities because it helps them activate their metaknowledge about the rules or patterns of the targeted structures, promote their attention to the forms they will encounter, and promote high levels of accuracy in the target structures when communicative opportunities to encounter target forms are abundant.

The Purpose of This Study

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether there was a significant difference between the two different types of pedagogical approaches to L2 grammar in Iranian university-level learners regarding the acquisition of English relative clauses. The results of the present study provided pedagogical implications for L2 grammar acquisition for Iranian high school and university-level teachers.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Attitude towards Mother Tongue - A Study of the Tribal Students of Orissa | Computer-mediated Communication in a Bilingual Chatroom | Compensation Strategies for Speaking English Adopted by Engineering Students of Tamil Nadu - A Study | Acquisition of English Intransitive Verbs by Urdu Speakers | Community, Culture and Curriculum in the Context of Tribal Education in Orissa, India | Auxiliary Verbs in Modern Tamil | Getting Around 'Offensive' Language | Noun Morphology in Kuki-Chin Languages | A Plea for the Use of Language Portals in Imparting Communication Skills | Advances in Machine Translation Systems | A Comparative Study of the Effect of Explicit-inductive and Explicit-deductive Grammar Instruction in EFL Contexts | Lexical Choice and Social Context in Shashi Deshpande's That Long Silence | The Voice of Servility and Dominance Expressed through Animal Imagery in Adiga's The White Tiger | Phonological Analysis of English Phonotactics of Syllable Initial and Final Consonant Clusters by Yemeni Speakers of English | Effective Use of Language in Communicating News through Political Emergency | Helping the Limited English Proficient Learner Learn the Second Language Effectively through Strategy Instruction | P.S. Sri's The Temple Elephant: A Bestiary with Socio-Political and Spiritual Message | Papers Presented in the All-India Conference on Multimedia Enhanced Language Teaching - MELT 2009 | A Phonological Study of the Variety of English Spoken by Oriya Speakers in Western Orissa - A Doctoral Dissertation | HOME PAGE of November 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Seyed Jalal Abdolmanafi (Rokni)
PhD scholar in Linguistics
Central Institute of Indian Languages
Mysore 570 006
Karnataka, India

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