Teaching English: What is Language Awareness?

What do the experts say?

Language awareness refers to the development in learners of an enhanced consciousness of and sensitivity to the forms and functions of language . (Ronald Carter, Professor of Modern English Language, University of Nottingham)

Language Awareness can be defined as explicit knowledge about language, and conscious perception and sensitivity in language learning, language teaching and language use. (Association of Language Awareness)

Language awareness blends a) content about language, b) language skill, c) attitudinal education and d) metacognitive opportunities, which allow the student to reflect on the process of language acquisition, learning and language use. (Dr Bilash Readings)

Simply put, language awareness means understanding the grammar rules of a language and knowing how they are used. Language awareness is something that future teachers of any language should constantly and meticulously work on. As quoted above, language awareness goes much further than what has just been stated in this concise and simplified definition. In some of the following posts, I will write more about the particular elements we as ESL teaches should look into for the benefit of our students. For now, let us learn the basic terminology.

Language awareness includes three crucial elements: form, meaning, and pronunciation.

Form includes all the grammatical structures, words and phrases we use to convey a certain message. Each form carries a particular meaning and as such serves as a tool for conveying intended messages.

Meaning is the message we want to convey or communicate. In order to do that effectively, we need to use grammatical structures. It is important to know the difference between the meaning and the structure. For example, in the sentence, I teach English, the form of the verb is present simple but the meaning is and action I do regularly’.

Pronunciation is the way we say the words and it is based on the set of complex rules that need to be followed in order to understand and be understood. It also includes word stress, sentence stress and intonation, all the elements that can both convey a meaning as well as change it.

Now it’s your turn! Can you give an example of a grammatical structure? What does it mean? How do you teach it? What problems do you face when teaching grammar? How do you solve them?

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