The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Jim Robinson

Second Advisor

Edward Sadrai

Third Advisor

Tim Fountaine

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

grammar; second language; teaching; english; strategies; classroom


The past decade has witnessed a revived interest in grammar teaching in foreign and second language learning contexts, as seen in the many publications on the issue, including those demonstrating the importance and benefits of grammar instruction on students’ language acquisition (Liu & Jiang, 2009). One side has supported the traditional approach of teaching grammar with rules, while the other has been open to new approaches in teaching grammar that are less explicit and less rule-based. This brings up a question of which strategy is more effective to use when teaching English as a second language, specifically to college students specifically. This question led me to perform a meta-study, which is a collection and analysis of studies that have already been performed. The different studies involved students of different environments, backgrounds, and classroom settings, allowing me to compare strategies and analyze which worked better in different situations, and to look for an explanation as to why that was the case. According to Kim (2014), in the late 1960’s, L1 composition theorists presented criticism of the “traditional approach” of teaching English that focused on acquiring formal accuracy. They challenged the assumption that writing is only a matter of arranging sentences and paragraphs into prescribed patterns. They viewed writing as a product of a complex, recursive process, in which the focus is placed on the process rather than on the product. This caused classroom instruction that focused on correctness to be considered ineffective and promoted the belief that studying grammar solely would not lead to improved writing. The topic of the importance of grammar focus in English courses is ongoing both in L1 and L2 writing. Some researchers claim that all students benefit from grammar instruction, while others point out that allowing students to identify their own grammar rules in writing is more beneficial than basing the entire writing instruction on grammar corrections. Kim (2014) states that regardless of the position researchers or teachers take on this debate, all agree that more research is needed. The present meta-analysis of ten research studies provides a place to analyze these confusing and conflicting beliefs all together. The findings lead to the conclusion that certain strategies work better in different environments, and there is no telling which strategy to use or at what time to use it. There is proof that there are benefits to using both strategies, whether more or less explicit.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.