An approach to teaching grammar for comprehension purposes

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The paper presents an approach to teaching gramar to university students in a reading comprehension course in EFL. It is argued that the material and the method of teaching should be determined by the special aim of the course. Thus, the student ought to become familiar with structures interfering with understanding - the 'semantic trouble-makers'. A structure defined as a semantic troublemaker may cause comprehension problems due to: a) its ambiguity or the existence of a similar structure with different meaning, b) arousing a false pattern analogy, c) the rarity or non-existence of a parallel construction in the mother tongue. To develop proficiency in decoding the meaning of such problematic utterances, several types of exercises have been suggested: distinction between similar sentences, multiple choice, 'rewrite' exercise and translation. Comprehension problems of Hebrew speakers are an example of difficulties that speakers of any foreign language may face. Therefore a comprehension grammar can be constructed for speakers of any language. A writer of such a grammar should take into consideration the similar form/ different meaning problem; he should find out where exactly the student's pre-college learning may have led him to false pattern analogies; and finally he must identify the semantic troublemakers resulting from the structural differences between English and the student's mother tongue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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