Some weeks ago we focussed on the gone-by world paradox: how come we are able to teach to generationsof children that are completely disconnected from the way we learnt? Well, adaptation must be the answer (a Darwinian concept). In any case, this capacity has not been a new drawback in my career so far. I remember the 90s, when the new functional approaches had rushed into Lingusitics studies almost unnoticed and every body was talking about Discourse Analysis and functions and notions… Ecclectical or not, my adaptation capacity has allowed me to pick the best out of each innovation flow and I consider this was a fabulous step forward.
Although theories and authors are not going to be mentioned so as not to overwhelm the reader with data easily found on the net, the irruption of functional grammar in language didactics meant the displacement of grammar from the focus of foreign languages. Again, the throne fell over again. For us, grammar was the only end to language learning, something that was not argued from any front, either students or teachers. In fact, communicative approaches poped up as a reaction to the post-structuralist view, which meant the fill-in-the-gap drill for our students. The footprint of the functional apporach was deep in the “temario de oposiciones de Secunadria – Inglés”. In fact, several grammar topics are seen from this view, together with those of Linguistics (well, the syllabus remains the same since 1993…)
This shift has prevailed in the consideration of linguistic materials until now. Today, my students study the Present Simple but in a way that allows them talk about their everyday activities or routines, not as a set of rules to be learnt about its use. This view has a reflection on the organization of the contents in the curriculum, something we always discuss when approach the syllabus and its didactic implementation. The blocks of contents from the curriculum develop in this way the skills of linguistic input and output to be tackled by students, having as a target the practical performance of language, not a set of rules and endings to be learnt, but this is somethig we will be dealing with.