Primary School Teachers' Beliefs About Effective Grammar Teaching And Their Actual Classroom Practices:
A Singapore Case Study.

Lim Poh Choo Patricia

English Language Honours AE, NIE, 2003


In order to understand how experienced teachers deal with the complexities of grammar teaching in the language classroom, it is necessary to first examine the beliefs that underlie experienced teachers' instructional practices. Despite the increased interest in the area of teachers' beliefs, the stability of teachers' beliefs and the influence of such beliefs on the teachers' classroom practices, the area is relatively unexplored in the context of primary schools in Singapore. The present study seeks to fill this knowledge gap left by the lack of research in the area of beliefs held by experienced teachers regarding grammar teaching in Singapore primary schools. The study examines the beliefs and actual classroom practices of two experienced English teachers in a Singapore primary school with regards to grammar teaching.

Research methods used in the study included teacher interviews, classroom observations, and an analysis of documents, materials and samples of pupils' composition scripts. The findings revealed that the two teachers have beliefs about grammar teaching that have influenced their actual classroom practices to a certain extent. However, comparison of the two teachers' beliefs and their actual practices also revealed that beliefs are not always reflected in the teaching practices. There is evidence of variance between stated beliefs and actual practices especially between what the two teachers believed to be the most effective way of teaching grammar and their actual teaching practices. The teachers' instructional decisions and practices are often influenced by factors other than their own personal beliefs, some of which are beyond the teachers' control.

Experienced teachers have well-developed beliefs about teaching that are stable and resistant to change, and these beliefs can form obstacles to instruction and professional development. The results point to a need for teacher-trainers to recognise how the experienced teachers' beliefs could result in resistance towards teacher development, and for teachers' development programmes to take into account the types of constraints that influenced classroom instructional practices. It is hoped that such enlightened programmes would help in the professional development of the experienced teachers.