If we want to learn a language, we should not focus just on the acquisition of vocabulary, but also the structures of language, the rules governing the changes of their forms and the combination of elements composing it, which is the grammar of the language. Besides, there are a serial of elements which help to constitute a grammatically correct sentence. They are: situations, speakers, and social background, that is, the context.
1. Essential Elements of Morphosyntax
The morphosyntax studies the function of the linguistic signs. It is useful to remember that the meaning is studied by semantics and lexicology, the form is investigated by phonology, whereas substance is studied by phonetics. Furthermore, morphology studies the word formation of two types: inflectional and derivational.
Inflectional morphology is concerned with changes to an individual lexeme for grammatical reasons. Derivational is concerned with the formation of one word from another. In derivational morphology we will have to deal with concepts like morpheme (free and bound), morph, allomorph, root and base.
The smallest unit in syntax is called the word. The word have three types: open categories, close categories and lesser categories (enumerators and interjections).
And what possibilities can be found in English to build new words? One of them is the addition of affixes. These affixes usually come from Latin, Saxon or Greek. We also have the conversion (an item changes its word-class without the addition of a affix, for example: to doubt-doubt), compounding, back-formation (formation of a word by a removal of affixes), reduplication, clipping (substraction of one or more syllables of a word), blending (brunch, heliport…), acronyms (alphabetism or abbreviations and proper acronyms), word-manufactured/coinage and borrowing.
Opposite to the word, we have the sentence, which is the largest unit of syntax. We distinguish between simple and compound sentences. The simple ones can be defined by the predicate and the subject (attributive and predicative) and defined by the speaker’s attitude (statements, questions, orders, requests, exclamations and interjections). Compound sentences are juxtaposed, coordinated (copulative, disjunctive and adversative) or subordinated (nominal, relative clauses and adverbial clauses). There is another classification for compound sentences which takes into account the verb-complementation patterns: intransitive, copulative, monotransitive, complex-transitive, ditransitive, prepositional, transitive prepositional, phrasal, phrasal transitive, phrasal prepositional and phrasal prepositional transitive.
2. Elementary Communicative Structures
To deal with this matter, we have to organise the English language by language functions. The most important one to have in mind in Primary Education are:
– Start and finish a conversation.
– Information, opinions, certainty and ideas.
– Asking people to do things.
– Decision and intentions.
– Offers and invitations.
3. Progressive Usage of Grammatical Categories in Oral and Written Productions to Improve Communication
We need to manage grammar to develop in the four skills of language. When dealing with form, in listening an reading, students have to percept and recognise the spoken and written form of the grammar categories. When dealing with meaning, comprehension of what spoken and written grammar categories means in context, will be required.
In speaking and writing, it will be asked to produce well-formed examples in speech and in writing, form wise. Use of grammar categories to convey meaning in speech and in writing, meaning wise.
The learning of grammar can be done by induction (self-discovery) or by explanation. In any of the cases, some steps are needed to be followed to ensure the progressive use of grammar categories and hence, to improve our pupils communicative competence. First step is the presentation of grammar categories in both speech and writing; second step is controlled practise, and finally, production. Pre-learning, repetition and volume and success-orientation also influence the grammar learning and teaching.
However, nobody will learn a language just by studying its grammar. Foreign language must be used to do things, and the best way to do so is by proposing communicative activities. These activities must be built in such a way as to use the four skills of language, which are: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Knowing the rules conforming the structure of a language makes us free to use it properly to express whatever we wish. Teachers have to help students to let them know how these rules work, but at the same time, they can learn by themselves by extracting their own hypotheses on the functioning of the language. Here, the teacher has to find the most adequate procedures and methodologies.