This paper serves as an introductory investigation into the grammar of spoken English. More specifically, this paper will analyze selected features of spoken language which are significantly different from written language or features of spoken language not found in written language. The features analyzed also have a high rate of occurrence in the spoken language. The ultimate goal of this investigation is the development of English Language Teaching materials which will address the features detailed.
What is the hallmark of fluency? Certainly no one is ever judged as fluent without showing competence in the production of acceptably fluent speech. Standard English is not a widely spoken variety; it is mostly written. However, it has become the dominant model for instruction (Rühlemann, 2008, p. 674-5). If the dominant model for instruction is based on a primarily written variety of the language, what service does this do to learners who wish to gain competence in the spoken language?
For example, discourse particles are considered an essential part of language which learners should master. Without them, learners “may come across as unnatural, dogmatic and/or incoherent” (Lam, 2009, p.1-2). Discourse particles, however, exist in the spoken realm, and their instruction in a Standard English curriculum may not be guaranteed.
Conversational grammar is sometimes considered a deviant or substandard form of the written language, as if the spoken word is an offshoot of the written word. Contractions provide us with an excellent counterexample. Contractions are “institutionalized spoken reductions” (Quirk, et al., 1985, p. 123) originating from the spoken language which are now accepted as legitimate...
... middle of paper ...
...kers and Spoken English: Native and Learner Use in Pedagogic Settings, Applied Linguistics 28(3), 410-439.
Huddleston, R. D., Pullum, G. K. (2002). The Cambridge grammar of the English language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Lam, P. (2009). Discourse Particles in Corpus Data and Textbooks: The Case of Well, Applied Linguistics Advance Access published June 18, 2009, 1-22.
Liu, D. (2003). The Most Frequently Used Spoken American English Idioms: A Corpus Analysis and Its Implications, TESOL Quarterly 37(4), 671-700.
Quirk, R. (1985). A Comprehensive grammar of the English language. London: Longman.
Rühlemann, C. (2008). A Register Approach to Teaching Conversation: Farewell to Standard English?, Applied Linguistics, 29(4), 672-693.
Simpson, R., Dushyanthi, M. (2003). A Corpus-Based Study of Idioms in Academic Speech, TESOL Quarterly, 37(3), 419-441.
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