Pearson Longman ESL April newsletter
  APRIL NEWSLETTER                                                         VIEW ARCHIVE
John Brezinsky
Teach Grammar or Communicative Skills? Why Not Do Both?
John Brezinsky, Higher Education Marketing Manager

Many teachers ask whether they should spend more time developing students' knowledge of grammar or their communicative abilities. I tend to respond as Betty Azar (2007) does—do both. Grammatical knowledge improves students’ abilities to communicate effectively, and this same communication solidifies grammatical knowledge through the targeted negotiation of meaning.

Improve Communication with Grammar

More accurate understanding of grammar leads to better communication. When students have a solid foundation in the form, meaning, and use of grammatical structures, they are better able to understand and use their target language. They are more effective communicators as well as more confident users of the language.

Improve Grammar with Communication

Students need both controlled and free practice with target structures. After they have reached a level of comfort with the grammar, students need a chance to practice using it in an authentic context. Students' attention is focused on accomplishing a task, and they naturally focus on the meaning created by the grammar being used. This focus on the task at hand reinforces their grammatical competence.

Do Both

As Azar (2007) states in her description of Grammar-Based Teaching, effective instruction incorporates many different aspects of language. Teaching both grammar and communicative skills together results in stronger language acquisition. So do both!


Azar, B. (2007) "Grammar-Based Teaching: A Practitioner's Perspective." TESL-EJ 11(2).

Do you have an inspirational story to share?
to tell your story about what inspires you as a teacher.


If you do not wish to receive any future e-mails from Pearson Longman, please click here.
Or send an email to

Pearson Longman ESL, 10 Bank Street, White Plains, NY 10606.
Please read our privacy policy: