An inquiry into grammar pedagogy : perspectives from Sri Lankan secondary school teachers and students

  • Maya Gunawardena

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This doctoral thesis examines the grammar teaching practices employed in the Sri Lankan secondary schools and teachers‘ and students‘ beliefs about these practices. To date, little research has been conducted in the Sri Lankan context on the practices of English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, and their beliefs about these practices. In many cases, failure in ESL is attributed to methods employed in teaching grammar which is also a controversial issue in many contexts around the world. Hence, this thesis examines teachers‘ practices, and their beliefs about these practices and other pedagogical principles employed in teaching English grammar. To obtain a more elaborate picture, the thesis also investigates students‘ beliefs about learning grammar and the methods employed in the classrooms. Finally, the study examines possible suggestions for improving grammar pedagogy from the perspectives of the teachers and students. The study collected data cross-sectionally using the mixed methods approach employing quantitative and qualitative methods. Specifically, data were obtained from 61 surveys from teachers,96 surveys from students,30 face-to-face semi-structured interviews with teachers and 30 face-to-face semi-structured interviews with students, and 22 classroom observations of grammar lessons. The survey results were analysed quantitatively, quantitatively and grounded theory was adopted in analysing interviews and observations. The results from the surveys, the interviews and observations were triangulated to arrive at the findings. The findings demonstrate that learning and teaching grammar is a multidimensional process that cannot be described under the umbrella of one particular pedagogy. Teachers adopt the Eclectic Approach and context-based pedagogy (Bax,2003) in teaching grammar. There seems to be agreement in the students‘ and teachers‘ beliefs about the usefulness of grammar lessons, the techniques employed and the use of metalanguage. The majority of the teachers adopts the deductive method in teaching grammar and both groups of participants advocate its effectiveness in this ESL context. Moreover, the students find grammar lessons interesting when they are informed about their usefulness in their learning, and also favour oral activities and games. Both participants offer useful suggestions and discuss effective teaching methods for grammar teaching. These insights are used to provide recommendations for teacher training and ESL curriculum design in the Sri Lankan secondary schools and other ESL/EFL contexts.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorEleni Petraki (Supervisor)

    Cite this