David Nunan thinks so…Scott Thornbury too, oh, and let’s not forget Michael Lewis. Indeed, just about every contemporary ELT theorist / writer out there stresses (and has stressed for the last 30 years!) that becoming competent in a second language is more than just about learning grammar. Unfortunately the ones who really need to understand this point, our students, are the ones who need the most convincing. Over the years, on countless occasions, students have demanded more grammar in class, begged for an explanation of the rules and uses of rare tenses and antiquated forms, and, perhaps most amusingly, demanded that less time be spent having fun and that we do more exercises from Murphy and Azar. And we’ve all heard teachers being criticised for not know all the grammar rules!
Anyway, those students clearly haven’t spent enough time watching Jackie Chan who, on a recent appearance on Graham Norton’s show, was able to tell an absolutely hilarious story despite making more grammatical errors than I can possibly count. Let the video load and then watch from 5.30 for the bit that I’m talking about.
It just goes to show that communicative competence is just that…the ability to communicate!