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  1. #1
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    Default Desriptive & prescriptive approaches the relevance to language teaching

    I have doubted that why linguist is interested in descriptive approach rather than Prescriptive approach and what these approach is relevant to language teaching, based on descriptive approach

    As far as I am concerned about teaching English as a foreign language; I have found that if students have not been taught grammar they would find it difficult to create their own sentences.

    However, as the language teaching is revolutionized, as time passes by, to communicative approach which aims to help students learn grammar indirectly. resulting good speaking but poor writing. ( I guess memorize the meaning as a whole sentence)

    From many hypothesis about language is nature or nurture, students still need to learn grammar; and this grammar of any langugae would tell them whether they make a sensible sentence or not.

    But if linguists are interested in descriptive approach, interlocutor's knowledge of language, sound system etc. They would be intersted in how such a speak form the language. For example I don't do nothing.


    I don't do nothing, mathematics approach would claimed like -,-=+ so the meaning should be 'I do some things'

    but with many reseaches compare this to French which allow the combination of double negation with the understanding of ' I do nothing' which gives different result.


    With the descriptive approach, this sentence would be described as the speaker is lack of English knowledge of grammar. If it is so Prescriptive should be much more intersting.


    ( Did I make wrong description)
    Can any one suggest/ explain me how descriptive is relevant to language teaching..

    Thank you
    PS: hope my problem will not confuse you

  2. #2
    Mister Micawber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Desriptive & prescriptive approaches the relevance to language teaching

    .
    Briefly, I think that both attitudes to the language have their uses.

    I was struck by a comment of another poster recently: usage should be corpus-based but not corpus-led. (The corpus is the body of language that already exists in books, newspapers, on the net, etc.) We should look to how the language is actually used (descriptive grammar), as this is what the learner will meet and deal with in the real world; at the same time, a basic prescriptive grammar is necessary for the practical learning process (as you have stated) and to defend the learner against e.g. falling into inappropriate social registers.
    .

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Desriptive & prescriptive approaches the relevance to language teaching

    I don't think that the two views have to be mutually exclusive. Often prescription can give simplicity and clarity, but that isn't always what is required. I think a teacher can balance the two in their classes.

    With your example of 'I don't do nothing', a descriptivist position on that would be that many native speakers use the form, so that when studnets come across native speakers using it, they are aware that this happens, but also know that in many contexts its use would not be considered appropriate. I doubt that many, if any, would practise the form, but letting learners know that alternative forms are used in regions and so on may well give them a clearer and better picture of English. The learner who has only heard that 'I do nothing' is an error may find it strange when they hear native speakers using it. The learner who knows that 'I don't do anything' or 'I do nothing' are forms that are accepted, but is aware that not all native speakers follow this pattern is quite probably better equipped to deal with language in use. It also depends a lot on the level of the students. At lower levels, clarity may well make learning easier than exposing them to the complexities of every possibility.

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    Default Re: Desriptive & prescriptive approaches the relevance to language teaching

    Hi,
    I agree with MrMicawber. It will never hurt to speak good traditional English.
    The descriptive approach brings dubious advantages.

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Desriptive & prescriptive approaches the relevance to language teaching

    There are prescriptivist teachers who claim that 'Woe is I' and 'It is I' are the only correct forms- are these non-dubious advatages?

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    Default Re: Desriptive & prescriptive approaches the relevance to language teaching

    These are trifles :)

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    Default Re: Desriptive & prescriptive approaches the relevance to language teaching

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    There are prescriptivist teachers who claim that 'Woe is I' and 'It is I' are the only correct forms- are these non-dubious advatages?
    And there are descriptivist teachers who teach that "Me and Johnny's goin to the park" is correct because many people say it. There are sins on both sides.

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    Wink Re: Desriptive & prescriptive approaches the relevance to language teaching

    Thanks for every argument; however, I have still doubted more

    First, Mister Micawber mentioned that prescriptive is good for teaching learners to be aware of social register, I doubts whether it is still a big issue to aware of because language changes every minute what used to be unaccepted is currently accepted. ( anyway I still agree with you but want to know more)

    Second, good speaking does not mean good writing. There are so many sentences/ speeches that are accepted in conversation but it never accepted in writing; and those who can tell us whether it is accepted or not is our teachers or those prove-readers; and if there is no such bad or good language then how a teacher can teach/answer their learners if they are using some different way interpreting the same expression, writting affects their marks. This is happened where `English is being teaching out side English speaking country. As a teacher, we could not judge which one is bad which one good but if they are studying in a speaking country, they would find that their writing is turning down or not standardized yet. How a teacher of ESL or `EFL handle it.


    Sorry to reply late, I forgot my password to log in.

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    Default Re: Desriptive & prescriptive approaches the relevance to language teaching

    more question,,
    What do you undertand by descriptive and prescriptive approaches?

    Is prescriptive approach merely involved with 'Grammar'?

    please Dicuss

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Desriptive & prescriptive approaches the relevance to language teaching

    Prescriptive is very much associated with grammar, but would also include things like style and register.

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