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    Hard to know or hard to say? Developing Explicit Grammar Knowledge among Primary Student Teachers

    Bell, Huw ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9695-9632 and Ainsworth, Steph (2019) Hard to know or hard to say? Developing Explicit Grammar Knowledge among Primary Student Teachers. In: Voices and Practices in Applied Linguistics: Diversifying a Discipline. White Rose University Press. ISBN 978-1-912482-17-7

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    In this chapter we provide a critical and conceptual analysis of the challenges of teaching and learning first language grammatical knowledge in initial teacher education in England, based on an exploratory project aimed at helping trainee teachers with little formal linguistic education gain adequate knowledge of grammatical terminology. Beyond the Anglophone world, this may not seem problematic: ‘most countries in Europe … see grammar instruction as an important part of their school curriculum; and the same is true of previous European colonies such as Brazil’ (Hudson 2016: 289). However, between around 1960 and 2000 learning about formal grammar was largely absent from schools in England and in much of the English-speaking world (Hudson & Walmsley 2005), so many British teachers lack knowledge about grammar (KAG). Recent changes to the English primary curriculum mean teachers do now need some declarative knowledge of grammar terminology. In this chapter we describe our attempts to help our student teachers learn grammatical terminology, using an innovative pedagogy based on investigative learning, conceptual understanding and dialogic investigation, focused around carefully designed exemplars. Subsequent sections contribute to wider debates about the inadequacies of current accounts of what grammatical knowledge is and how it may be assessed in educational contexts, the limitations of terminology-driven teaching methods, and the potential for applied linguistics to further inform the development of knowledge about grammar in schools.

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