Do future French teachers have a romanticized view of teaching grammar?

A recent study of the grammatical and didactic knowledge of students in a bachelor’s program for high school French teachers seems to suggest that this is the case.

Do future French teachers have a romanticized view of teaching grammar?

85 teaching students answered a questionnaire on modern pedagogical grammar and how to teach it. Their answers tend to demonstrate a weak knowledge of the grammatical notions of noun phrases, verb phrases, subordinate clauses and basic sentences. An analysis of the verbal interventions produced by eight students during a five-week internship also indicates that the teaching knowledge used by the future teachers was inconsistent with that generally used in grammar instruction. Despite this mixed portrait of their grammatical and didactic knowledge, the students show great confidence in their grammatical knowledge and their ability to teach grammar. Furthermore, the students see their future grammar teaching in a highly positive light, far more so than when describing their own experience of learning grammar. Taken together, these findings appear to reflect a romanticized view of the teaching of grammar.

The quality of the grammatical knowledge of future teachers is constantly called into question, particularly in the media. The findings of this research are therefore essential for initiating an objective and nuanced reflection on the training of future French teachers in grammar and grammar instruction. Furthermore, this reflection should extend to future elementary and special education French teachers in addition to high school teachers. An awareness of trainee teachers’ knowledge and representations of grammar and how to teach it should offer an entry point for rethinking teacher training, both in terms of content and training processes.

Main researcher

Isabelle Gauvin, Université du Québec à Montréal


Research report

Appendices 1; 2

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: January 2016