Holistic Grammar Through Socratic Questioning


  • Annie K. Koshi

    1. City College, The City University of New York
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      Annie K. Koshi (Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University) is Associate Professor of ESL at City College, The City University of New York.


ABSTRACT  When teaching grammar to second language (SL) learners, teachers should take the new direction of aiming at grammatical consciousness-raising. One way to achieve this is to have learners discover grammar rules inductively, the teacher's job being to facilitate this grammar discovery process by providing appropriate techniques. Socratic questioning is an effective technique for facilitating the discovery process. This article discusses an approach that uses Socratic questioning to instill grammar awareness in advanced, academically bound SL learners.

The article begins with a short review of the recent controversy of natural vs. formal (conscious vs. unconscious) teaching/learning of language forms. The second part discusses the theoretical framework of the approach. The third part explains the pedagogical concepts on which the approach is based. The final part examines the approach in detail.

The approach will help learners look at the study of grammar as a means to receive and share information–the purpose of academic language learning. Language is presented holistically–as whole-pieces–in the form of reading materials, not in isolated sentences. Paying selective attention to specific structural features in the reading material, students answer higher order, critical thinking (Socratic) questions, which help them discover relevant grammatical rules inductively. The outcome is grammar awareness, which will help learners extend their grammar learning beyond the classroom.