For many English teachers grammar teaching may be a challenge. Not only do they have to decide on the approach to teaching grammar to a particular age group but they also need to prepare a number of activities to enable students to practice new grammar structures.
The history of language teaching presents a number of methods of teaching a foreign language, and grammar in particular. The earliest one, i.e. the Classical Method, focused on learning grammatical rules and memorization. Then this method came to be known as Grammar Translation Method, where the main emphasis was on teaching grammar in a deductive way, and also on translating sentences. Today Communicative Language Teaching seems to be a prominent teaching method. In CLT grammar is taught mainly in an inductive way, but the deductive approach is not excluded (Brown 2007). Deductive teaching of grammar seems a more suitable for teaching adolescent learners since their thinking is logical, they are able to draw comparisons, set up hypotheses and make deductions (Fontana 1991). Implicit approach to teaching, where students are not directly asked to focus on form, appears to be more suitable for young children (Brown 1994). Sometimes grammar is isolated from other language abilities. However, grammar should not be treated as an isolated system of rules but it should be as much integrated into the curriculum as possible. Learners should be provided with numerous possibilities of using grammar structures to create their own oral and written texts. Learners need to learn how to use grammar in a creative way so as to foster their linguistic creativity. To achieve this the teacher has to provide students with proper feedback, praise their original ideas and encourage using the Monitor.
The need for investigation in the field of linguistic creativity which might emerge from explicit grammar knowledge has arisen, though little research has been done in this area. Moreover, some teachers of English may not realize they need to instruct students how to exploit their grammar knowledge and how to use grammar in a creative way.
The aim of this paper is to examine whether linguistic creativity might emerge from explicit knowledge of grammar among adolescent learners. The paper is composed of two parts. The theoretical part consists of three chapters. The first chapter describes adolescent learner development at the age of seventeen. The second chapter deals with acquisition of grammar, and grammar and creativity, whereas in the third chapter the creative use of grammar and Krashen's hypotheses are discussed. The second part of the paper is practical by nature as it constitutes the research. In this part I describe the group of adolescent learners I taught and thoroughly present L2 teaching procedures followed by analysis of all collected data. This chapter also contains conclusions and tips for teachers.
1. Adolescent development
Forisha - Kovach (1983, cited in Dakowska 2005:173) states that adolescence is "growing into maturity". Dakowska (2005:173) defines adolescence as "the peak of intellectual functions that require flexibility and coordination". This peak motivates the teacher to prepare a wide range of materials and tasks for adolescent learners (op. cit.). Yet another definition of adolescence was proposed by Learner and Hultsch (1983). They characterize adolescence as a period in which the processes of biological, sociocultural and psychological dimensions are in a transition from childhood to adulthood. The speed at which these processes are developed varies and is an individual matter (op. cit.). Adolescent learner development is a complex process involving a number of aspects that continues into adulthood. Adolescent learner development comprises neuropsychological, cognitive and personality development. All of these aspects are of prime importance, and for this paper they are all discussed.
1. 1. Neurological development
Neurological development is a complex process of forming and advancing the nervous system, the human brain in particular.
1. 1. 1. Brain growth
Human brain, which is said to be the most complicated and important organ, specializes in controlling human's physical activity, thoughts and emotions (Zawodniak 2005). It develops into three parts. The lowest part is called brain stem, and it regulates all life functions. The limbic system, which is situated below the neocortex, is responsible for learning and memory processes, and also for emotions and the immune system. The upper part of the brain is called the neocortex, and it regulates solving problems and drawing comparisons (op. cit.).
1. 1. 2. The specializations of the two hemispheres
After reaching the stage of neocortical development, human brain undergoes brain asymmetry (Zawodniak 2005). The two hemispheres of the brain are now dominant for certain functions (Plotnik and Mollenauer 1986). The left hemisphere controls language abilities - speech, reading, writing and spelling, as well as mathematics. On the other hand, the right hemisphere controls special construction and facial recognition (op. cit. 1986). Zawodniak (op. cit.) also argues that the right brain hemisphere specializes in nonverbal language, thanks to which humans perform emotions and thoughts. In addition, the right hemisphere is dependent on creative thinking that leads to inventiveness (op. cit.). Danesi and D'Alfonso (1989) add that the right hemisphere is better than the left hemisphere at processing new stimuli. The two hemispheres process information in a different way. The left hemisphere processes information analytically, whereas the right hemisphere uses a holistic style (Levy and Trevarthen 1976, cited in Plotnik and Mollenauer 1986:69). Gengross and Puchta (1992:3) support this idea, adding that since grammar involves analytical processing it is a "left hemispheric domain". According to Herschensolm (2007), vocabulary is a collection of neural networks placed both in the right and the left hemispheres. Kurcz (1976) distinguishes between semantic, syntactic and phonological properties of every word. Logical constants, such as and, or, no combine the set of semantic and syntactic properties of a word. If more that one such a set of properties is ascribed to a word it is semantically ambiguous, however, if the same properties are ascribed to a word it is called a synonym (op. cit.).
1. 1. 3. Broca's and Wernicke's areas
A French physician, Paul Broca in the nineteenth century discovered a region in the left hemisphere of the brain that is responsible for language functions, and more accurately for grammatical processing and syntax (Grodzinsky 2000, cited in Herschensolm 2007:184-185; Dworetzky 1988). Broca discovered that the damage to this frontal area results in aphasia, a disorder of speech. "People with Broca's aphasia find it difficult to express themselves in a fully formed or grammatical sentence. They also have trouble with verb inflections, connective words, pronouns, and complex grammatical constructions" (Dworetzky 1988:282). Wernicke, a German researcher, discovered another area responsible for language processing. Wernicke's area deals with semantics, and is located also in the left brain hemisphere, however lower than Broca's area. Phrases uttered by people with Wernicke's aphasia make no sense, since the aphasics display difficulties with semantics (op. cit.). Broca's and Wernicke's areas are connected by angular gyrus. When the three parts of the brain function normally and are not damaged, uttered sentences are grammatically correct and comprehensible (op. cit.).
1. 2. Cognitive development
Jean Piaget (1896 - 1980) was one of the greatest psychologists who was interested in child's thinking. Educated at the Universities of Paris and Geneva, the Swiss constructivist Piaget investigated the cognitive development of children for many years. Papalia and Olds (1986) as well as Child (1991) inform that Piaget observed his own children's intellectual development, and then he elaborated on a theory of cognitive development. Papalia and Olds (1986 :34) define cognitive development as "changes in children's thought processes that result in a growing ability to acquire and use knowledge about their world". Piaget enumerates three factors thanks to which the following stages of cognitive development appear. These are as follows: biological factors, educational and cultural transmission, and the activities children perform (Child 1991). According to Piaget, a child performs actions interacting with the surrounding world. The child develops schemata, that is cognitive structures within human mind (op. cit.). Schemata are patterns of behaviour of a person who acts in a certain way in certain circumstances, and inform the way the person deals with new objects. Schemata become more and more complex with the intellectual development (op. cit.). Schemata are organized and systematized by means of adaptation, i.e. the process of how people deal with new information. Adaptation consists of two processes: assimilation and accommodation. The former is a process of incorporating new schemas into the old structures, whereas the latter is a process of modifying the old schemas to a new experience. When the child is uncertain after assimilating a new concept, the state of disequilibrium appears. After accommodation the child reaches the stage of equilibrium when he or she lives in balance with the surrounding world (op. cit. 1986, op. cit. 1991, Zawodniak 2005, Brown 2007). Brown (op. cit.) also argues that the state of disequilibrium may motivate the child to achieve final equilibrium which is understood as the ability to meaningfully operate new knowledge.
1. 2. 1. Piaget's stages of cognitive development
According to Piaget, a child's thinking is first marked by performing simple actions. Then the child becomes to think in symbols. They are called representational schemata. The child internalizes the schemata when he or she "is able to represent the world mentally, by means of memory, imagery or symbolic language" (Child 1991:146). After the child has developed the ability to think in symbols, he or she reaches the level of logical thinking. Piaget suggests cognitive development in four stages (op. cit.) :
(1) Sensori - motor (0 - 2 years)
(2) Pre - operational (2 -7 years, with further division into
preconceptual (2 - 4 years), and intuitive (4 - 7 years)
(3) Concrete operations (7 - 11Â½ years)
(4) Formal operations (11Â½ onwards)
For the purpose of this paper, the formal operations stage that characterizes adolescents is thoroughly considered below.
1. 2. 2. Formal operations stage (age 11Â½ onwards)
Formal operations is the highest stage children are able to develop. Papalia and Olds (1986:360) argue that children reach the formal operations stage once they are capable of thinking in abstract terms. Learner and Hultsch (1983) also add that at this stage of development children start to interact with reality and start to form hypotheses. As far as the concrete operational child is concerned, he or she can speak about things that actually exist. In contrast, the formal operational children "become able to follow the form of an argument or to set up on hypothesis without requiring actual experience of the concrete objects or situations upon which it depends" (Fontana 1991:48-49). Such an adolescent is now able to think and talk about numerous possibilities and abstract phenomena, such as government, family, friendship, society (op. cit. 1983, op. cit. 1986). When the adolescent draws conclusions from previously generated hypotheses and reaches solutions to certain problems, we can talk about hypothetico - deductive reasoning (op. cit. 1991).
The development of L1 starts from about six months of age, when the child begins to make one - syllable utterances. It is called babbling. By about twelve months, the baby is able to utter first words. They usually relate to objects in the surrounding environment. From two years of age, the child utters two - word phrases. The child omits articles and prepositions in his or her phrases. In this case, one can talk about telegraphic speech. By about 4 or 5 years, the child acquires elementary grammatical rules. The child tends to overgeneralize the rules when he or she adjusts them incorrectly (Plotnik and Mollenauer 1986).
1. 3. Personality development
Numerous aspects of personality development, such as gender differences, age, self - esteem, motivation or inhibition may be taken into account when discussing this issue. All of these influence the learning process. However, in this paper self - esteem, motivation and inhibition are discussed thoroughly.
1. 3. 1. Self - esteem
According to Fontana (1991), children do better if they have high self - esteem. Since they are ensured that they can achieve more, they are more demanding towards themselves. High self - esteem may be generated by parents, if the child is often approved of and encouraged, as well as by the teacher, when the learner is encouraged to forget about failure (op. cit.). Brown (2007) employs the idea of task self - esteem. According to Brown (2007:155), task self - esteem "relates to particular tasks within specific situations". It may also refer to self - evaluation when acquiring a second language (op. cit.).
1. 3. 2. Motivation
Motivation is divided into intrinsic and extrinsic. Accordingly, the former means an internal drive that pushes learners to explore the world and achieve their aims. Fontana (1991) suggests that young learners are likely to become more efficient adults when their need for an internal reward is fulfilled. The latter, the extrinsic motivation, is an anticipation of an external reward. At school such a reward constitutes grades, prizes, tests and most importantly the teacher's approval. Learners who are motivated, both internally and externally, succeed, whereas some students may fail either due to low self - esteem, too much competition in the classroom or too long anticipation for results of their work (op. cit.).
1. 3. 3. Inhibition
Many human beings who want to protect their ego build certain walls of inhibition. Brown (2007:69) states that adolescents develop inhibitions as a result of physical and cognitive changes and development so as to "protect their fragile ego". Any speaker of any language develops his or her language ego. It was referred by Brown (2007:69) to as "the identity a person develops to the language he or she speaks". According to Brown (op. cit.), the language ego inhibits an adolescent's acquisition of a second language to protect his or her ego. As they learn by trial - and - error, and come to understand the language, a second identity is developed (op. cit. 2007, Brown 1994). As a result of developing a second identity, the learner experiences identity conflict. Language acquisition may also be inhibited when the learner is ambiguity intolerant. The learner rejects the concepts that contradict cognitive organization they possess. In contrast, Brown (op. cit.) informs that people who are ambiguity tolerant are more eager to see and acquire differences between some external ideas and their own knowledge or views. Tolerance of ambiguity is important in second language acquisition, including grammar, since it enables learners to accept contradictory concepts of a second language, which results in language learning being successful (op. cit.).
1. 4. Conclusion
In this chapter a complex process of adolescent development is thoroughly discussed. Adolescent development includes the processes of neurological development, cognitive development, and last but not least, personality development. Since an adolescent's brain has already undergone brain asymmetry, certain functions are processed either by the right or by the left hemisphere. It is important that every L2 teacher know that language, including grammar, is processed by the left hemisphere, which also specializes in analytical processing. Personality factors, such as inhibition, self-esteem and motivation, are equally important in the teaching process since their knowledge might facilitate students' learning.
2. Acquisition of grammar
Grammar acquisition is a complicated process that starts in infancy when the child is exposed to adult speech, and extracts the rules of grammar which are then internalized and used to form new sentences (Papalia and Olds 1986). Consequently, the chapter that follows is focused on Second Language Acquisition, as well as grammar and creativity, with a special regard to metalinguistic hypothetico - deductive perspective on learning, Critical Period Hypothesis, Chomsky's notion of creativity, divergent thinking, grammar awareness, and finally the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis.
2.1. Second Language Acquisition
One of the early stages of L2 acquisition proposed by Ellis (1994) is the silent period. It is the first stage of L2 acquisition. The silent period is not necessary for L2 acquisition, however, many learners make use of it because it may prepare them for a better L2 interaction. The second stage of the second language acquisition is the formulaic speech, i.e. the use of short unanalyzed phrases which can be employed in many situations. Hakuta (1976, cited in Ellis 1994:84) distinguishes between routines (utterances used as memorized chunks) and patterns (utterances with at least one open slot). Learners who are using routines, such as I don't know, are not being creative since such learners know little about inflectional morphology. Since patterns, such as Can I have...?, are partially analyzed, learners who are using them are being creative. The last early stage of SLA is semantic and structural simplification. When learners omit content words (nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs) one can say that they use semantic simplification. In contrast, when learners do not use grammatical functors in their utterance, one calls it structural simplification. There may be two reasons for language learners to use semantic and structural simplification. One may be that learners are still unfamiliar with linguistic forms they should use. The other may have reason in learner's inability to access the linguistic forms during the production of utterances (op. cit.).
In The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics one can find the definition of metalanguage as the language used to talk about another language (Matthews 1997). Trask (1999) and Matthews (op. cit.) distinguish between metalanguage and object language. The former is "the language which we are talking about" (Trask 1999: 184). According to Trask (op. cit.), we must use technical concepts and terminology if we want to use English as a metalanguage. Matthews (op. cit.) argues that English as a metalanguage is used to describe rules of English grammar. Komorowska (2002) states that since adolescent learner thinking is logical and abstract, the teacher can introduce grammar terminology when teaching grammar. Learners analyzing the language possess some metalinguistic knowledge. This is knowledge of different aspects of a language, such as the structure or forms (Richards, Platt, Platt 1992). Language user also possesses metalinguistic abilities, thanks to which he or she is able "to think about language independent of his comprehension and production abilities"(Owens 1988:349). Metalinguistic abilities make it possible for language user to decide whether an utterance is grammatically acceptable or not. A child at school age can already correct unacceptable utterances (Bowey 1986, cited in Owens 1988:350).
2.1.2. Hypothetico - deductive perspective on learning
Brown (2007) informs that deductive reasoning is moving from a general rule to details. Richards et al. (1985:73, cited in Nunan 1991:156) characterize deductive learning as applying previously learned rules by learners when they communicate. Learners possess conscious awareness of formal properties of the language, which is called explicit knowledge (Nunan 1991). Harmer (1987) argues that in explicit grammar teaching the rules of grammar are directly presented to the students. The teacher may use metalanguage (i.e. a language used to describe another language) when he presents grammar rules (see chapter 2.1.1.). Learners form hypotheses with regard to L2, and then those hypotheses are verified in a variety of activities, such as communicative activities (role - play, simulations, story reconstructuring).
2.2. Grammar and creativity
Ur (1988:4) defines grammar as "the way a language manipulates and combines words (or bits of words) in order to form longer units of meaning". Harmer (1987) explains that the grammar of a language is how words are organized to form the plural or negative forms, as well as different kinds of sentences.
There are two approaches to teaching grammar, namely the deductive approach and the inductive approach. Explaining grammar rules and then presenting examples is called deductive approach because specific instances of language are deduced from a general rule (Dakowska 2005). The inductive approach characterizes discovering rules from the data learners are provided with (Brown 2007, Brown 1994). Generating novel ideas from the already existing ones is called creativity (Plotnik and Mollenauer 1986). Dell (1963) states that every human being is able to be original and creative by expressing their own feelings and thoughts. Dell (op. cit.) also enumerates and describes three Levels of Teaching - the informative level, the interesting level, and the creative level. At the informative level the teacher presents basic information of the course. At the interesting level, after the students have memorized the new information, the teacher makes this information interesting by telling jokes, watching films or preparing class projects. At the third level, the creative level, the students need to express their own original thoughts on the basis of the basic information they have acquired during the two previous levels.
Critical Period Hypothesis
Chomsky (1972) suggests that children are equipped with language acquisition device, which exists in the human brain. By that Chomsky means a genetic predisposition in children to utter new sentences using previously analyzed grammatical structures. The grammatical structures come from universal grammar - innate principles similar in all languages (Lightbown and Spada 1993). According to Lightbown and Spada (op. cit.), Lennenberg argues that the language acquisition device functions successfully when it is activated at the time called critical period. Critical Period Hypothesis claims that the time for language acquisition is limited. According to the strong version of CPH, if children do not acquire the first language before puberty, they will never be able to acquire it. The weak version states that children will have difficulty in acquiring the first language after puberty, and, therefore, the language will be incomplete. Penfield and Roberts (1959, cited in Ellis 1999:107) suggest that language is acquired best by the age of ten when the brain is still plastic (i.e. both hemispheres are involved in language acquisition). Due to brain lateralization that plasticity disappears, and the language is acquired by the left hemisphere of the brain. Lennenberg employs his hypothesis with reliance on L1 acquisition, however, he states that with age there comes more difficulty in acquiring the second language (Herschensolm 2007). Ellis (op. cit.) argues that adolescent learners acquire grammar better than adults because during the lateralization process different language features are affected.
Chomsky's idea of creativity
The great American linguist Noam Chomsky elaborated on his own theory that humans are able to produce and understand language in a creative process (Beilin 1975). Chomsky (1972) claims that people who know the language, i.e. a finite set of rules, are capable of uttering and comprehending an infinite number of novel sentences. Using the language in this way is a creative activity, which differentiates human language from animal communication. According to Chomsky (op. cit.), an infinite number of structure descriptions (i.e. some objects with sound and meaning relationship) are generated by the rules of grammar. Chomsky (1975) proposes the idea that human mind has a cognitive capacity, which can limit an individual's act of creation when that creative mind is close to the limit of cognitive capacity. A person who operates a language uses the rules of the surface structure and the deep structure. The former is a phrase related to the physical signal, while the latter is a phrase a person has in his or her mind. Chomsky (op. cit.) argues that to form an infinite set of novel sentences one has to be able to internalize the rules of the surface structure and the deep structure.
2. 3. Divergent thinking
The way of thinking that leads to generating a number of solutions to a given problem is called by Guilford divergent thinking. In divergent thinking it is equally important that the responses be original, innovative, imaginative and numerous (Child 1991). Sternberg (2001) argues that after a human being generates many solutions to a problem (employs divergent thinking), he or she needs to employ another type of thinking - the convergent thinking to accept only the proper solution to the problem. Sternberg and Spear-Swerling (2003) discuss the idea of analytical, creative and practical thinking. In analytical thinking learners define and analyze a given problem or theory and consider how they are going to solve them. Analytical thinking is normally followed by creative thinking, and it requires of students applying the rules and designing an experiment, proving a theory or creating an original idea. The last type of thinking - practical thinking, involves a demonstration or implementation of the solved problem. The three thinking processes likely to culminate in critical thinking, should be employed in a balanced way in the teaching process so as to get to individual students (op. cit.)
2.4. Grammar awareness
Awareness in SLA is defined by Brown (2007:292) as conscious "learning, in which learners are in intentional control of their attention to some aspect of input or output." Learners are aware of their learning process, and use metacognitive strategies to plan and think about their learning, monitor their output and the learning process, and last but not least, evaluate whether particular strategies are successful (Purpura 1997, cited in Brown 2007:134; Ellis 1994). Brown (op. cit.) proposes the following metacognitive strategies: advance organizers, directed attention, selective attention, self - management, functional planning, self - monitoring, delayed production and self - evaluation. All of the above metacognitive strategies are important, however, for the purpose of this paper self - monitoring and self - evaluation are discussed in more detail. Accordingly, self - monitoring refers to being conscious of one's speech and correcting it for accuracy in grammar or vocabulary. Self - evaluation is a strategy employed to assess learner's progress in language learning. Learners are capable of deciding which metacognitive strategy to choose thanks to metacognitive knowledge. It is "knowledge of the mental processes which are involved in different kinds of learning." (Richards, Platt, Platt 1992). Metacognitive knowledge helps learners to decide which tasks are more difficult than others and which strategy to choose to solve them (op. cit.). Analyzing the language results in the development of metalinguistic knowledge (i.e. knowledge of forms and structures). Learners also encounter contradictory aspects between L1 and L2. When they accept those differences they become ambiguity tolerant (Brown 2007).
2.5. The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis
According to Wardhaugh (1983), The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis, is useful for teachers of a foreign language. There are two versions of the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis to be distinguished - the strong version, which is said to be impractical, and the weak version, which is quite useful (op. cit.). The strong version of the hypothesis tells that contrasting the systems of grammar, phonology and lexicon of two languages on a priori grounds is possible. This contrast enables the teacher to predict areas in which a speaker of L2 will have difficulty in learning the L1. It would also show the teacher what materials should be used to help the learner overcome these difficulties (op. cit.). The weak version of the hypothesis requires of the teacher only the identification and explanation of the difficulties encountered when learning the second language, hence it is a posteriori nature.
2. 6. Conclusion
Acquisition of grammar may start in early childhood and continue till rules are internalized. With age there comes more difficulty in acquiring both L1 and L2. Learners of L2 often possess metalinguistic knowledge and use metalanguage to talk about the second language. When language users employ their knowledge of grammar structures to form new utterances they are creative. Additionally, innovative responses imply the significance of fostering in students divergent thinking. L2 users are often aware of grammar and may use the strategies of self-monitoring and self-evaluation when using the second language. They may have difficulty in learning the L2 because of the contrast between L1 and L2, which should be explained by the teacher.
3. The creative use of grammar
As it has been suggested in the previous chapter, Chomsky (1972) proposes that learners are able to generate a great number of sentences from their knowledge of a finite set of grammar rules. Chomsky calls it creativity. This chapter deals with more detail with reasons of linguistic creativity, as well as it is thoroughly focused on some aspects of Krashen's Monitor Model. For the purpose of this work Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is also discussed.
3. 1. L2 grammar acquisition and learning by adolescent learners
Adolescent learners both acquire (by means of communication in the target language) and learn (by presentation of rules and corrections) rules of grammar. This section deals more closely with Krashen's learning - acquisition hypothesis as well as with the input hypothesis to illustrate how acquisition progresses.
3. 1. 1. Krashen's learning - acquisition hypothesis
Krashen elaborated on an Acquisition - Learning Hypothesis, according to which learners can develop their ability of L2 in two ways, namely subconscious acquisition and conscious learning (Pawlak 2006). Krashen (1981) states that the process of acquisition of a second language is similar to child first language acquisition. Acquirers focus on meaningful communication in the target language, rather than on the form. They are not aware of rules of grammar they use, and as a result they " may self - correct only on the basis of a feel for grammaticality" (Krashen 1981:2). Learning involves a great need for correction and presentation of explicit rules (Krashen and Seliger 1975, cited in Krashen 1981:2). In the case of learning, learners focus on the rules and forms of language (op. cit.). Krashen (Ellis 1994:356) believes that the learned knowledge and the acquired knowledge are separated, meaning that "learned knowledge cannot be converted into acquired knowledge". This belief came to be known as the non - interface position. According to Krashen (op. cit.), acquired knowledge develops provided learners focus on conveying the message. What is more, he claims that while learners generate sentences using the acquired system, they employ the learned system only to monitor the output (op. cit.).
3. 1. 2. The input hypothesis
According to Pawlak (2006), Krashen states that learners acquire a second language thanks to getting a comprehensible input. It is represented as i+1, where i stands for the current knowledge, and 1 stands for next stage of development. Acquisition is fostered and successful when learners process and comprehend language and are able to move along the natural acquisition stages. In other words, input must be beyond competence level, where learners are encouraged to make progress. On the other hand, acquisition is not fostered when the input is beyond learner's reach (e. g. i+3) or when learners already know the structure (i) (op. cit.). Krashen (1981) argues that language acquisition derives from intake, which is characterized by Krashen as an understood input. What is more, Krashen (1981 :102 - 103) asserts that "we acquire by understanding language that is a little beyond our current level of competence." Input can be qualified as intake only when it is natural, meaning that it is a communication language (op. cit.).
3. 2. Interlanguage theory
The term interlanguage was first introduced by Selinker in 1972, meaning both that an interlanguage is "the internal system that a learner has constructed at a single point in time" (Ellis 1994:350), and that interlanguage continuum is a series of those systems, according to which a student's progress over time can be assessed. From the perspective of cognitive theories of interlanguage, learners interpret and utter sentences as they have constructed mental grammars of L2, which enables the speakers to concentrate on the rules of those grammars. A set of overlapping grammars is called the interlanguage continuum since the rules of each grammar are contained in the previous grammar that has been constructed by the learner. In this sense, the following grammars are more complex. The rules can be viewed as a hypothesis that competes with other hypotheses (op. cit.). Although interlanguage develops gradually, L2 learners fail to reach the level of competence native speakers reach. This phenomenon is called fossilization. Fossilized items may be eliminated for some time, however they reappear when learners use the language. This phenomenon has been referred to as backsliding (op. cit., Pawlak 2006).
3. 2. 1. Hypothesis testing
Corder (1976, cited in Ellis 1994:351-352) argues that language learners build hypotheses about the target language provided they are exposed to input. When the message the learner produces is comprehensible, the previously generated hypothesis is accepted. However, the hypothesis is rejected if their message is incorrect (op. cit.). In this way, the hypotheses of the L2 are tested in a few ways: receptively, productively, metalingually or interactionally. A single rule is often formed due to at least two hypotheses. Feedback needs to be provided in order to accept one final hypothesis, which is internalized as an L2 rule. The other hypotheses are rejected. The process of hypothesis - testing is subconscious (op. cit.). In contrast, learners may be encouraged to explicitly or implicitly focus on form of the language, either by direct teaching (e.g. deductive teaching of grammar rules) or by proper reacting to learner's errors (e.g. feedback). The effort of encouraging learners to pay attention to form has been called form - focused instruction (Pawlak 2006, Brown 2007). The term form itself refers to syntax and morphology (op. cit.). Approaches to form include metalinguistic explanations, unintentional references to form, noticing, and last but not least grammar consciousness raising ("the incorporation of forms into communicative tasks") (Brown 2007:276).
3. 3. Fostering creativity
According to Dakowska (2005), fostering creativity in learners involves constant praising their own original ideas, providing them with many open - ended activities and encouraging divergent thinking. Moreover, the teacher should cater for learner's individual interests, focusing at the same time on their strengths and counteracting stereotypes. It is vital to add at this point what role affective feedback and cognitive feedback play in the learning process, and thus creativity. The general term feedback refers to an information from an interlocutor about the message. Cognitive feedback is the actual understanding of the message. When speakers support obtained messages, they use affective feedback. When the interlocutor shows that the message is comprehensible, the speaker continues the conversation, however, when the message is not understood, the speaker aborts the message. In this way, the speaker is more alert in production. Too many corrections (negative cognitive feedback) may result in unwillingness in production. In contrast, if errors are not corrected, they may be internalized and difficult to eliminate with time (Brown 2007). Learners often monitor their utterances so as to be more alert with their output. Krashen proposes the Monitor Hypothesis, according to which only by means of using the learned knowledge can language users monitor their output before or after the utterance (Pawlak 2006). The Monitor can be successfully used only when the performer has time, is focused on the form, and knows the applied rule (Krashen 1981). He also states that learner's speech or writing is due to the acquired knowledge (Ellis 1999). For Krashen acquisition is far more important because it initiates natural communication. People acquire the second language by means of using it in communication. Contrary to this view, learning involves error correction as well as being alert to the rules. Learning most commonly takes place in a foreign language classroom (Lightbown and Spada 1993).
3. 4. CLT
Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is thoroughly discussed below since it has been applied to conduct the Research.
The term Communicative Language Teaching is difficult to explain, thus to illustrate this approach some of its characteristics are presented (Brown 2007:241):
1) "classroom goals are focused on all of the components of communicative competence",
2) " language techniques are designed to engage learners in the pragmatic, authentic, functional use of language for meaningful purposes",
3) "fluency and accuracy are seen as complementary principles underlying communicative techniques. At times fluency may have to take on more importance than accuracy in order to keep learners meaningfully engaged in language use",
4) "in the communicative classroom, students ultimately have to use the language, productively and receptively, in unrehearsed contexts".
Overt presentation of grammatical rules is less common in CLT (Brown 1994, op. cit.). Since the idea is to build fluency, the teacher needs to use authentic language most of the time (Chambers 1997, cited in Brown 1994:43, Brown 2007:242). The teacher is also to guide students in spontaneous situations (op. cit. 1994, op. cit. 2007).
Activities in CLT engage students to use the language in real communication. Attention is paid to achieve the aim of the communicative task rather than to accuracy. In CLT activities students should want to communicate, and there should be a purpose for communication. For students the content, not the form, should be greatly taken into account. A variety of language is to be applied in those activities. Ultimately, teacher intervention in the activities and control of materials must be excluded from CLT activities (Harmer 1991).
For the purpose of this paper only a few activities are briefly presented. Role - play is employed to reflect a real - life situation, and it enhances students' oral fluency. The teacher provides students with the information whose role they are going to play. Co - operative writing (story and story reconstruction) engages all students to strictly cooperate in groups to do an activity. In story reconstruction the teacher may show the class a picture, and their aim is to write a story based on the picture in small groups. Instead of a picture, the teacher could also read a story and ask students to write their own version. Mind maps appear to be useful in the classroom for supplementing lexical knowledge for students share their knowledge with peers. The last discussed type of activities is substitution drill, in which students need to change one element in a repeatedly used model (op. cit.).
3. 5. Conclusion
In this chapter the creative use of grammar is thoroughly discussed by presenting a number of hypotheses. Krashen's hypotheses illustrate the way learners acquire and learn a foreign language and the way learners deal with the obtained knowledge of the language. Selinker introduced an interlanguage theory referring to a system of the language constructed by a learner. This theory is connected with hypothesis - testing for learners build mental grammars of L2 by internalizing previously tested hypotheses as L2 rules. Thanks to the possession of L2 grammar rules learners are able to generate new sentences. Their production is successful and fostered provided proper feedback is employed. Ultimately, learners' creative production can be encouraged by numerous communicative activities which provoke natural communication.
4. The research
The research constitutes the last, practical part of this paper. It is aimed at examining the theoretical knowledge from the first part on empirical grounds. This chapter includes motivation behind the research, aim of the research, group description, data gathering tools, teaching procedures and data presentation followed by its evaluation.
4. 1. Motivation behind the research
During my teaching practice I had an opportunity to observe and conduct a number of lessons to a group of adolescent students. I noticed that they did not know how to exploit their grammar knowledge and use the known structures in new contexts. This interesting observation aroused in me curiosity of examining whether adolescent L2 learners are capable of using grammar in a creative way, and how to foster their production enabling them to use grammar structures in many possible ways.
4. 2. Aim of the research
The aim of the research is to examine whether linguistic creativity might emerge from adolescent L2 learner explicit knowledge of grammar.
Moreover, I would like to examine whether the deductive approach to teaching I applied during the research is more beneficial for adolescent learners. I am also going to check how they make use of grammar knowledge obtained thanks to the deductive approach. Besides, I aim at examining the use of the Monitor (see 3.3.) and whether learners self - correct their mistakes. Consequently, by creating a positive climate in the classroom and implementing a number of group activities, I would like to motivate the learners, lower the level of inhibition, improve their self - esteem.
4. 3. Group description
Before I conducted the lessons included in the research, I already had an opportunity to observe and teach a group of adolescent learners in a High School in Sulechów.
The group consisted of twelve 17-year-old learners. These were 6 boys and 6 girls. The majority of them were at the beginning level of English. Out of the whole group only one student admitted having English at school before. For the rest of students learning English was a completely new experience. The group had three lessons of English a week, and during my observations I noticed that they were learning almost exclusively from the coursebook. Sometimes, the teacher wrote some exercises on the blackboard. There were no discipline problems since the teacher maintained good rapport with the students. However, I noticed that the teacher did not cater for individual students' needs and did not intervene when someone from the group did not understand a certain part of covered material. As a result, only a few students participated in the lessons. The others were not interested and were afraid of speaking and making mistakes. I could also observe lack of production - students mainly learned the new material in a receptive manner. There was not enough speaking, nor writing.
4. 4. Data gathering tools
I chose to apply action research to collect all the necessary data from the research. Nunan (1992) refers to action research as a research conducted by the teacher on a group of classroom learners. He proposes seven steps of action research: initiation, preliminary investigation, hypothesis, intervention, evaluation, dissemination and follow up.
Before the research, I made an informal observation of the students. After the five lessons I conducted, I administered a questionnaire that helped me to collect subjective opinions about learning grammar in general, as well as about the five lessons in question.
4. 5. L2 teaching procedures
I conducted five lessons to achieve the aim set in 4.1. I concentrated on the deductive approach to teaching, and constantly reminded the students of using only the required forms of the Present Simple Tense, Present Continuous Tense and the structure have got. The students had an opportunity to practice them in a number of activities, including CLT activities.
4. 5. 1. Procedure 1
(see appendices 1, 2, 3)
The aim of this lesson is to revise the students' knowledge of the Present Simple, Present Continuous and have got, as well as to show them that they can apply rules of those structures to form many sentences.
At the beginning of the lesson the teacher conducts a warm-up: the teacher asks the students to think of some nouns and verbs and writes them on the blackboard, adding some ideas of his own.
Then the teacher gives the students handouts with ten sentences (see appendix 2) and asks each of them to fill in a word or a phrase from the blackboard. There are always a few possibilities so that the responses differ. The teacher nominates the students randomly and asks them to read their sentence.
After this activity, the teacher distributes another handout with a short text about Jane and Mary working in the office (see appendix 3). Some of the expressions in the text are highlighted, and the students' task is to change them with their own ideas. Each student is asked to do and read one example. The task is being done till all the students have answered.
In the last exercise the teacher draws a table on the blackboard and divides it into four fields. In the first field, there are subjects (I, people, children, dogs, parents); in the second field, there are adverbs of frequency (often, never, sometimes, usually, always); in the third field, there are verbs (eat, play with, sit on, paint); and in the final field, there are nouns (the floor, meat, chairs, dolls, chocolate, balloons). The teacher asks each student to take one expression from each field and form a sentence with them. The teacher also highlights that there is a number of possible solutions.
Till the end of the lesson the students form numerous sentences.
4. 5. 2. Procedure 2
(see appendices 4, 5)
The aim of this lesson is to revise/teach nouns connected with the verb play and verbs connected with the noun books, as well as practice both oral and written forming of sentences with the tenses and have got.
As a short warm-up the teacher writes five incomplete sentences on the blackboard and asks each student to choose one sentence and complete it with a missing phrase.
The teacher now draws a mind map on the blackboard. It contains the verb play. The teacher asks the whole class to think of as many nouns that can be used with play as possible. After that the students are asked to form sentences containing the verb play and one of the collocating nouns. They are informed that they need to form either an affirmative, an interrogative or a negative, and use the two tenses or have got. The activity is done orally, and answers are elicited randomly.
After this activity, the teacher conducts a similar activity, however, this time the mind map contains the noun books, and the students are asked to form similar sentences but in third person singular only. Each student is asked about his/her own sentence.
Another activity is done in groups - there are two groups. Each group receives a picture of a street (see appendix 5). Their task is to write a short story on the basis of the picture. After they finish writing, one person from each group reads aloud their story.
4. 5. 3. Procedure 3
(see appendix 6)
The aim of this lesson is to practice writing using known structures.
First, the teacher conducts a warm-up: the students are asked to think of something pleasant or unpleasant, then a few students are nominated to tell the rest of the class what they have been thinking of and why.
The next step is writing about something the students hate or love (doing). The teacher writes on the blackboard a sentence: "Something I hate/love (doing) ...", and asks the students to write a short paragraph on the topic. When they finish writing, they exchange their paragraphs with colleagues from the desk and read aloud their work. The rest of the class is listening.
After that, the teacher conducts another activity - the students are asked to take out a piece of paper and write a sentence on it. They have 30 seconds to write their sentence. After this time, they need to fold the sentence and pass the paper to another person. Another person unfolds last sentence and adds his/her own to continue the story. The activity is done till every student receives his/her original sheet of paper.
If there is some time left the teacher reads a few stories to the class.
4. 5. 4. Procedure 4
(see appendices 7, 8A, 8B, 8C)
The aim of this lesson is to practice speaking and foster oral production by forming sentences containing Present Simple, Present Continuous and have got.
At the beginning of the lesson the teacher conducts a short warm-up: the students are asked to imagine they are someone famous. In pairs they need to ask the other person some questions, such as: "Are you a singer?", "Are you an actor?", "Are you from the US?", and try to guess their choices.
Then the teacher asks two volunteers to perform another activity. The volunteers sit at a separate table and are provided with instructions to this activity. The teacher instructs them that they have to imagine they play roles of someone else - one person is an interviewer, and the other person is someone famous (this student needs to think who he/she wants to be). The interviewer receives instructions on a small piece of paper what to ask about during the interview (see appendix 8A). They perform this situation and the rest of the class is listening to.
After the interview the teacher nominates four students to do another situation. This time two students need to imagine that they are parents of one child. They want to do a picnic. The fourth person plays a role of a forest ranger. Their task is to perform the whole situation according to the instructions given on small pieces of paper (see appendix 8B). The activity is open-ended so the students need to agree on the outcome.
During the remaining part of the lesson the last scene is performed by two students nominated by the teacher. One person plays the role of a driver, and the other person of a policeman. Again, they receive instructions what to do and say, as well as agree on the outcome (see appendix 8C).
4. 5. 5. Procedure 5
(see appendices 9, 10)
The aim of this lesson is to revise all the material covered during last four lessons as well as to foster written production by creating and reconstructuring the text.
As a warm-up the teacher asks the students to form a few sentences with their favourite word, and tell them to their neighbours. They do not have time to think and have to respond immediately.
Another activity is writing about yourself. The teacher asks the students to take a sheet of paper and write as much about themselves as they can for ten minutes. They are instructed to use Present Simple, Present Continuous and have got, and as many expressions from previous lessons as they remember. The teacher writes on the blackboard a few areas on which to write. These include: me and my family, my hometown, free time activities, hobby, animals.
After they finish writing, the teacher nominates two students to read aloud what they have written.
The following stage is reconstruction of "Romeo and Juliet". First, the teacher reads a summary of Shakespeare's play to remind the students its plot and characters (see appendix 10) . Then students are divided into two groups in which they need to write their own version of "Romeo and Juliet". Before the end of the lesson, a leader from each group reads the story to the whole class.
4. 5. 6. Procedure 6 - questionnaire
(see appendices 11, 12).
I decided to carry out a questionnaire after I had conducted all five lessons included in the research. The aim of the questionnaire was to collect subjective opinions about the students' attitude towards grammar, learning grammar at school, self - correction and the lessons I had conducted to them.
There were eleven open-ended questions in the questionnaire, and some of them required of the students providing longer answers.
4. 6. Data presentation
In this sub-chapter all data gathered from the procedures is presented. It includes the data form the five lessons and the questionnaire I conducted. In this part I thoroughly describe my observations.
4. 6. 1. Data obtained from procedure 1
Lesson 1 - Changing sentences
(see appendices 1, 2, 3)
The first exercise was a warm-up to get all the students alert and involved in the lesson. When I asked them to think of some verbs and nouns and call them out, I could see that they were very involved and curious about what the activity could be about. Some students were looking through the coursebook to find interesting words. I added some ideas of my own to make the list of verbs and nouns even more interesting. These are sample ideas that appeared on the blackboard: school, hairdresser, books, smart, problems, eat, wash, money, cat, flour, bananas, read, newspapers, shoulders, a doctor, run.
When I distributed the handouts with ten sentences, the students seemed to be interested - some of them asked me what they were going to do. When I explained the activity and everyone understood what they were supposed to do, I did not have to give them much time to think - they filled the gaps in sentences straightforward. The majority of the students did not even write their answers on the handouts and did the whole activity orally.
There were a few volunteers at the beginning. All their answers were correct so I also nominated some other students who performed pretty well too. I noticed that even shy and reserved students enjoyed the opportunity to speak in front of the whole class.
When all the students answered and all the ideas were exploited, I moved on to another activity - a text about Jane and Mary who were working in the office. When I was distributing the handouts I could see that the students' interest was rising. The text contained eleven phrases to replace. After I explained this activity, I noticed that the students from the first two rows were almost finishing it. I decided to monitor the rest of the class to make sure that everyone had understood what to do. Some students asked me about vocabulary which indicated that they wanted to have a number of different answers in each example and create an original text.
When they finished replacing the underlined phrases in the text I nominated the students randomly to read examples with replaced phrases. I asked "What have you got (Bartek)?" Answers were numerous, some of them being funny. For example, the first phrase was replaced by eating, burning, writing; fifth phrase was replaced by work, computer games, problems, family.
The students were really involved in the activity, and some of them called the answers out to be better than others.
When I drew and completed a table on the blackboard some of the students asked me what game they were going to play. I explained that it was a task with puzzled sentences, where their task was to form sentences using one element from each field. Unfortunately, not all the students were involved in the activity. They seemed to be a little tired. I had to elicit answers from them because there were no volunteers. However, each student managed to form at least one sentence.
At least four students asked me questions whether they were giving correct answers. They had the idea but wanted to make sure to avoid making mistakes. Generally, I consider the activities were a great warm-up before next lessons. A variety of substitution drills gave them much pleasure and forced them to think. Activities were controlled which enabled most of the students to do them without much difficulty.
4. 6. 2. Data obtained from procedure 2
Lesson 2 - Mind maps
(see appendices 4,5)
The students found this task easy and did not have any difficulty in completing provided sentences with their own ideas. This activity was a revision of last lesson and woke my students up.
When I said that I was going to draw a mind map on the blackboard the whole class knew what I meant by the term mind map. They informed me that they were doing a similar activity during their Polish classes. I only explained that I was looking for all possible nouns that collocate with the verb play. The students were very involved in providing me with answers. There were so many answers that I did not manage to follow them. Most students called answers out, while some were looking for proper nouns in the coursebook. Here are some answers: the guitar, volleyball, football, chess, violin, computer games, hide-and-seek, basketball.
After I made sure that all the answers were elicited, I instructed the students to form one sentence using the verb play and one of the nouns. They needed to form a sentence in Simple Present, Present Continuous or with the structure have got. Although I was expecting a straightforward oral answer and nominated the students randomly, most of them found this activity quite easy. For some students it was challenging and there were some minor mistakes. I noticed that all the students personalized their answers using "I", and that they were afraid of forming a sentence in third person singular.
These are some sample answers:
Bartek formed such a sentence: "I play hide-and-seek with my mother".
MiÅ‚osz formed a different one: "She has to play the guitar".
Grzegorz said: "I'm playing computer games now".
The students asked whether they liked the activity showed a lot of enthusiasm and answered that they loved it and would like to do another mind map, but with a different word.
When I drew another mind map on the blackboard and gave the noun books, one of the best students in the class provided me with as many five answers. This time the students were even more eager to do the activity than before. They called out some more answers. Some of them are as follows: burn, copy, steal, buy, sell, have got.
Before I said to them that they had to form sentences with the noun books and one of the verbs from the mind map, I decided to challenge the activity by asking them to form sentences in third person singular only. As I expected, this time there were more mistakes than in the previous mind map. Only a few students self - corrected, the others did not realize they were making mistakes. However, all the students managed to form one simple sentence. Some examples include:
Kasia: "She like read books". That student did not realize she did a mistake even after indicating there was a mistake. I helped her to correct it.
Tomek formed another sentence: "Bartek sometimes steals English books".
The next stage of the lesson was a group work. I asked the students to divide themselves into two groups. After everyone took their seats with their group, I asked them why they divided in such a way. One group answered that they wanted to be in a group with Weronika because she was the best and most motivated student in the class. The other group simply wanted to work together because they liked each other.
When I provided the groups with a picture I could see a lot of excitement on their faces. They were even more excited and eager to do the activity when I explained that they needed to write a story on the basis of what they could see in the picture. One person from each group was writing what other people were saying. Everyone in the groups was involved and provided their own original ideas. The students had a lot of fun and were laughing. I was asked about a number of vocabulary they could use in their stories.
A few minutes before the end of the lesson I nominated a leader from each group to read their story. While listening I realized they used a lot of imagination and creativity and created a nice piece of writing.
I noticed that providing original ideas and creating the whole story was not a problem for the two groups of students. The problem for them was monitoring their output and, where possible, self - correcting. However, that activity was even more challenging because the students were not provided with any cues.
The most important fact in this lesson was that students were now able to form their own original sentences. First two activities helped them to remember vocabulary better and say aloud sentences without much time to think, whereas last exercise required of the students originality and implementing structures on the basis of a picture. I learnt that it is important to introduce a variety of activities to make a lesson more interesting and challenging.
4. 6. 3. Data obtained from procedure 3
Lesson 3 - Finish it off!
(see appendix 6)
I started with a warm-up activity as I wanted to make the students participate in the lesson and prepare for next activity. I asked them to think for a while of something pleasant or unpleasant, and then tell the others about what they were thinking of and justify their choice.
I noticed that they did not have problems with expressing their feelings and emotions, and eagerly shared their ideas with others.
Then I wrote a sentence "Something I hate/love (doing)...", and asked to take a piece of paper and write a short paragraph on the given topic. The students were very enthusiastic to do this activity, and while they were writing I could see they were really concentrated. They did not ask me any questions and did not stop writing till I asked them to finish.
Then I told them to exchange their pieces of writing with their colleagues from the desk and read their work.
In this activity the students had more time to think, consult a dictionary or the coursebook, and as a result there were fewer mistakes.
When I asked the students to take out another piece of paper, some of them were disappointed. However, when I started explaining the rules of this activity all the students became happy because they had done the activity before and really liked it. Some of the students could not wait and started the activity while I was still explaining the rules.
I asked students to write for 30 seconds, fold what they wrote and pass to another person. That person had to r