John Truscott's Article Review
The article argues that grammar correction in L2 writing classes is harmful to many students. The second language (L2) writing courses assume that individuals from non-English speaking communities often acquire language through practice and experience. The class assignments targeting such students involve tasks that require them to retell information in the form of narratives, expository or argumentative essays. However, Truscott (1996) found that the L2 courses do not always achieve the targeted benefits. According to the researcher, substantial studies have shown that the practice does not yield any positive impacts on the learners’ language abilities. He argues that the L2 learners often repeat the same mistakes even after being corrected severally.
On the other hand, many teachers do not believe that the L2 courses are not useful. Such instructors base their arguments on unfounded assumptions. Truscott (1996) assert that the authors hardly cite evidence and when they do the proofs are based on general assumptions that do not apply in the real world. The researchers have not been critically analyzing the nature of the grammar correction process. That is, the scholars who support the L2 writing courses neither concentrates on the practical problems nor do they assess the theoretical issues involved in the classes. According to Truscott (1996) teachers supporting the L2 courses have strong intuitions that grammar corrections are essential for language development. Consequently, the instructors ignore the multiple empirical studies that have demonstrated that the grammar classes cause more harm than good to the students. In contrast, Truscott found that language development is a gradual process and not short-term discoveries as these teachers think. He disregards the intuitions arguing that correcting the students when they are not ready does not produce any significant value.
The article further found that the past studies have not been paying sufficient attention to the adverse impacts of the grammar correction. These side effects include affecting the learners’ attitude and self-esteem. The students also spend a significant part of their study time on tasks that do not add value to their lives. However, since the teachers are not knowledgeable on these facts, their students continue to suffer. According to Truscott (1996), the researchers have insisted that the grammar correction lessons should continue despite these adverse consequences. In most cases, the students do not benefit because the teachers use codes that they do not understand. For example, the instructors used ineffective assessment methods to evaluate the learners’ progress.
As such, it is interesting that most teachers do not believe that L2 courses have no significant value on the learners despite the several studies that have established a negative correlation between the grammar correction and the students’ language development. For example, Truscott (1996) cites several studies conducted between 1981 and 1990 showing that a significant number of students who underwent the training still committed the grammatical errors. The controversy made me think about my experience (whether the grammar corrections improved my language abilities). Nevertheless, I agree with Truscott that the grammar correction will enhance the learners’ skills if the teachers adapt appropriate strategies. The instructors should maximize the positive impacts by developing customized lesson plans based on their students’ learning needs. They should assess the learners’ skills and allow them adequate time to improve on their weak areas.
Truscott, J. (1996). The case against grammar correction in l2 writing classes. Language Learning 46, 327 – 369.
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