Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 10 October 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.



  • We seek your support to meet the expenses relating to the formatting of articles and books, maintaining and running the journal through hosting, correrspondences, etc.Please write to the Editor in his e-mail address to find out how you can support this journal.
  • Also please use the AMAZON link to buy your books. Even the smallest contribution will go a long way in supporting this journal. Thank you. Thirumalai, Editor.

In Association with




  • E-mail your articles and book-length reports in Microsoft Word to
  • Contributors from South Asia may send their articles to
    B. Mallikarjun,
    Central Institute of Indian Languages,
    Mysore 570006, India
    or e-mail to
  • Your articles and booklength reports should be written following the APA, MLA, LSA, or IJDL Stylesheet.
  • The Editorial Board has the right to accept, reject, or suggest modifications to the articles submitted for publication, and to make suitable stylistic adjustments. High quality, academic integrity, ethics and morals are expected from the authors and discussants.

Copyright © 2009
M. S. Thirumalai


Explicit Grammar Instruction

Seyed Jalal Abdolmanafi Rokni, Ph.D. Candidate


In the field of SLA, following grammar instruction, the explicit-implicit dimension has long been one of the controversial issues and focuses for researchers. It provides relatively fresh theoretical as well as empirical view angle to formal grammar instruction. This paper reviews both theories of explicit-implicit issues and empirical studies on formal explicit and implicit grammar teaching, and presents some issues like explicit/implicit knowledge and interface debate that require to be noticed and attached much importance to these studies, expecting to provide some help to the future research and to the real SLA classroom settings.


Over the past few decades, grammar instruction has long been a controversial issue in the field of second language and foreign language acquisition. It has been of great interest to researchers and teachers that whether grammar should be taught and how to teach grammar if it is necessary. Focused on these two key questions, grammar instruction has undergone its ups and downs through many linguistic schools and pedagogical approaches, in the process of which the necessity of grammar instruction is no longer the focus, and the explicit-implicit dimension in grammar teaching has received more attention. Many empirical studies have investigated that which method is better for grammar teaching, explicit or implicit (Scott, 1989; Zhou, 1989; Scott, 1990; Gao & Dai, 2004; Tian, 2005; Xia, 2005) and whether there is an interface between explicit grammatical knowledge and implicit grammatical knowledge (Zhou, 1989; Green & Hetch, 1992; Gao & Dai, 2004; cited in Xiao-fei & Tian, 2008).

What is grammar? According to Rob Bastone (1994), grammar is multi-dimensional: grammar is a formal mechanism, a functional system from signaling meanings, or a dynamic resource which both users and learners call on in different ways at different times. The teaching of grammar has been the focus of language teachers and learners for many years.

The main goal of grammar teaching is to enable learners to achieve linguistic competence; learners use grammar as a tool or resource for comprehension, and creation of oral and written discourse efficiently, effectively, and appropriately depending on the situation (Huang, 2005).

Explicit approach

In SLA, different types of approaches have been documented to facilitate L2 acquisition in diverse contexts. Ellis (1994) proposed three methods for L2 learners to engage in L2 learning depending on the requirements of the learning situation: giving rules explicitly through assimilating rules following instruction, explicitly-selective learning in terms of searching for information, building, and then testing hypotheses, or implicitly or unconsciously-automatically acquiring the structural nature of the material derived from experience of specific instances. Winitz (1996) on the other side suggested four general types of approaches to SLA of L2 grammar: the explicit learning of the target language structures, implicit acquisition of the target language structures, implicit acquisition combined with the explicit learning of the target language structures in order to monitor implicitly acquired grammatical principles, and a preliminary phase of implicit acquisition of the target language structures in order to enhance explicit learning of grammatical principles.

Despite the development of these various instruction approaches to SLA, there may be no single approach to SLA appropriately applied in all contexts to the varying types of learners that L2 teachers face (Winitz, 1996; Fotos, 2002). Instead, at the core of these different instruction approaches to SLA, two key contrasting and independent concepts have been commonly involved: explicit and implicit.

While these two types of approaches have raised a number of controversial issues regarding the effects of SLA, a number of recent studies have taken stronger views about the advantages of explicit instruction approaches to SLA of L2 grammar especially in the EFL situation due to the features and merits of the explicit approach (Fotos, 2002).

What is explicit approach?

Various definitions of an explicit approach have been provided in SLA. Ellis (1994) states that explicit learning refers to "conscious searching, building then testing of hypotheses; assimilating a rule following explicit instruction". Dekeyser (1995) calls formal instruction explicit if explanation of grammatical rules comprises part of the instructional treatment (deduction) or if learners are directed to attend to particular forms and try to generate the rules themselves (induction). While Williams (1998) defines explicit learning as the situation in which learners intend to learn and when they are aware of what they have learned, Rosa and O'Neill (1999), based on cognitive psychology, view explicit learning as "the condition in which learners are instructed to look for rules underlying the input".

Moreover, Winitz (1996) defines the explicit acquisition of grammatical structures as "a language learning process in which the rules of L2 grammar are learned as formal statements". So, an explicit instruction involves language rules which either demonstrates language rules in a straightforward manner, or directs learners to find these rules by themselves (Catherine 2003 as cited in Kong, 2005) or an explicit approach can be defined as a consciously rule-searching and instructed input processing, occurring when learners consciously search for rules or apply them to the stimulus domain (Robinson, 1997).

Why an Explicit approach

A number of researchers have investigated many obvious advantages and crucial functions of conscious learning in SLA (Green & Hecht, 1992). Krashen (1982), in his Monitor Theory, stated that "learned grammatical principles function to edit or monitor language output that has been generated by acquired rules" (as cited in Winitz, 1996, p. 3). Also, "conscious learning is only available as a monitor to modify an utterance after it has been initiated by the unconscious acquired system" (Krashen, p. 4, as cited in Green & Hecht, 1992). Schmidt (1995) claimed that "explicit, conscious noticing is necessary to subsequent learning, and therefore learners in all conditions who claim to have noticed rules should outperform those who do not" (as cited in Robinson, 1997, p. 56).

It goes without saying that an explicit approach can not only help learners draw more learners' attention and exploit pedagogical grammar in this regard but also is fully and clearly expressed, defined or formulated, and readily observable (Doughty & Williams, 1998) and also explicit grammar instruction can solve problems with purely communicative driven approaches, and can provide three important parts of the grammar lesson such as explicit grammar instruction preferably at the beginning of the lesson, communicative activities containing many usages of the instructed form, and summary activities to focus learners' attention on the grammar form they were instructed on and then encountered communicatively (Doughty & Williams).

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

Spelling Variations in Kannada | A Survey of the State of the Art in Punjabi Language Processing | The Representation of Homosexuality - A Content Analysis in a Malaysian Newspaper | Noun Reduplication in Tamil and Kannada | Journey of Self-discovery in Anita Nair's Ladies' Coupé | A Study of Communicability and Intelligibility of Advertisements in Tamil With Special Reference to Tooth Paste and Health Drink | Explicit Grammar Instruction | Teaching English as a Second Language Using Communicative Language Teaching - An Evaluation of Practice in India | Discovering Values in English Language Teaching | The Core Functions of the Hindi Modals - Speech Act Approach | Textbook Analysis of English for Engineers | Cross-Professional Collaboration on E-Learning Courses | Reading Arundhati Roy's Fiction The God of Small Things Through Her Non-Fiction | Teaching English through Indian Writing in English in Rural India | Proverbs in Modern Tamil and Telugu Societies | Using Problem Based Learning Technique in Teaching English Grammar | Problems in Reading Comprehension Skills among Secondary School Students in Yemen | The Literary Value of the Book of Isaiah | Will Sentences Have Divergence Upon Translation? : A Corpus-Evidence Based Solution for Example Based Approach | HOME PAGE of October 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Syed Jalal Abdolmanafi Rokni, Ph.D. Candidate
University of Mysore
Mysore 570006
Karnataka, India

  • Send your articles
    as an attachment
    to your e-mail to
  • Please ensure that your name, academic degrees, institutional affiliation and institutional address, and your e-mail address are all given in the first page of your article. Also include a declaration that your article or work submitted for publication in LANGUAGE IN INDIA is an original work by you and that you have duly acknolwedged the work or works of others you either cited or used in writing your articles, etc. Remember that by maintaining academic integrity we not only do the right thing but also help the growth, development and recognition of Indian scholarship.