Meet the Speakers: Bruno Leys

16/04/2018 - 06:15



40-minute talk

Grammar Rules, OK?

Bruno Leys

Research suggests that language learning is, primarily, a lexical phenomenon. Consequently, a focus on learning, storing and connecting lexical items should be central in ELT. Grammar rules, however, often still dictate what happens in the English language classroom. In this talk I will show how language topics, traditionally treated in a rule-based way, could benefit from a lexical perspective.

Bruno Leys’s Bio

Teacher Trainer

VIVES Brugge


Bruno Leys has been an English teacher and teacher trainer for over 25 years. He currently works at VIVES Brugge. He has published several EFL coursebook series for Van In publishers: Breakaway, Takeaway and High Five. He also writes articles, tweets and blogs about EFL, provides in-service training sessions and is a speaker on conferences in Belgium and abroad.

Why have you chosen this topic for your presentation?

Throughout my teaching career I have constantly been confronted with issues about the position of grammar in ELT. I now try to bring a nuanced answer to this continuing bone of contention.

What do you want participants to take away from your presentation?

I hope participants will reflect on their own teaching practice, the roles of grammar and vocabulary and their relative importance. The practical examples can be applied by the participants or can serve as an inspiration.

Summary of presentation

In this talk I will briefly deal with the findings of both (psycho)linguistic and neurobiological research on language learning. These considerations will be confronted with more traditional ELT practice. Participants will be encouraged to engage and share their experiences and beliefs about the roles of grammar and lexis in their teaching environment.

I will look at a series of language topics, such as Passive Voice and Indirect Speech, which are predominantly taught by means of grammar rules. I will demonstrate that these grammar rules are not only inadequate in helping learners acquire language, but can even have an adverse effect. Exercise types, merely based on applying grammar rules, falsely suggest that communication is about executing a formula. Many of these exercises even seem to ignore corpus evidence on actual usage.

I will present an alternative and more lexically focused approach, which is guided by the above-mentioned research and corpus-based data, with a focus on language in use.

The suggested exercise formats will be visualised and participants will be invited to reflect on the practicality and usefulness of these approaches.

At the end of the talk there will be room for questions and discussion of the issues raised in the talk.

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