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The Staging Lessons

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Lehrst├╝cke |┬áStaging Lessons┬á|

Universal Grammar with Noam Chomsky

or many students, grammar is the most unpopular part within all language subjects, especially in lessons in their mother tongue. This result can be found in every school class by way of a short survey; I usually identified about 5% of all pupils interested in grammar. And a short test on the sustainability of grammar terms proved even worse results: almost no one could provide definitions for five quite random grammatical terms such as "apposition", "subjunctive", "modal adverb", "future II" and "prepositional object" ÔÇô and this after some 10 years of training in these matters! To most people, grammar seems to be an inscrutable, illogical set of rules with incomprehensible terms and many exceptions, as a system imposed on language. For them, grammar does not originate out of the object itself, does not have its source in the "language" which they have learned without difficulty and which they easily handle all day in their everyday life. Whoever, in a grammar test, reverts to his intuition, his speech feeling, does so embarrassed and with the bad conscience, not to remember the "rule" or the exact term at the moment.

Grammar are the language generation rules

The staging Lessons (Lehrst├╝ck) "Universal Grammar with Noam Chomsky" attempts to turn the tables here and to position the "speech feeling" in its true place. For this is our intuitive intrinsic grammar, which we always carry in our minds and whose rules we apply and deliver with every spoken word without hesitation. Starting point are the three facts that 1. natural language is primarily spoken language (and its text form a special case), that 2. each language follows the same basic rules (the so-called universals) and 3. that language is always and exclusively generated at the very speaking moment. Some 60 years ago, the US-American linguist Noam Chomsky made this feature of the actual speech generation the center of his language description and he called his grammar the Generative Transformational Grammar, i.e. a grammar of speech generation and transformation. The transformations refer to the regular processes that ÔÇśrunÔÇÖ from the so-called universal deep structure, such as the sentence, to the specific sound structure of a single language utterance.

In our staging Lessons, Noam Chomsky can serve as a guide for our own research and our discoveries, such as the path from a pre-linguistic "thought" to the uttered sentence in a particular language (and vice versa as a process of understanding).

Der Linguist Noam Chomksy in jungen Jahren mit seinem ber├╝hmten Beispielsatz

The linguist Noam Chomsky at a young age with his famous example sentence

Language is triple genetic

We can understand language and its grammar, or its rules of generation, if we understand their genesis. This appears in a threefold form, since, 1. besides the actual generation of (sound) language, which we practice every day, we have 2. all once learned our mother tongue (including their grammar) in our ontogenesis ÔÇô by the way the greatest and most incredible learning achievement we have ever had. A mother tongue, which 3. in turn originated historically (or phylogenetically) in a very long process of change and which is still undergoing a constant and accelerated change, also with regard to its grammatical rules. Because in today's globalized world, one language affects the other one very quickly and we adapt our speech on an ongoing basis. Looking at and learning about the basic genetic grammar of language, we also get to know the position and the specifics of the individual languages as special transformations, so that, for example, we can acquire a foreign language in a targeted contrast mode. Where a syntactical position in a sentence or a phoneme combination in articulation is different, it is worth practicing and buffing, otherwise not. In this way, the staging Lessons "Universal Grammar with Noam Chomsky" is a basic lesson for all languages in all language subjects.

Material for your own staging

In the margin column on the right, the following materials are available for downloading. First, a poster with a one-page survey of the complete staging lessons, followed by a justification for a grammar lesson of that kind. Then an (illustrated) composition, which shows both the structure and the sequence of the staging lessons and with which a staging of the lessons in your classroom is made possible. The conceptual image (Denkbild) delivers another summary of the entire staging lessons.

For further materials, please go to the German version of the Lehrstück. You will find there a detailed report on the staging of the lessons in Bern (Inszenierungsbericht Lehrstück Universalgrammatik), mostly in German, but with English exercises also.  Finally, exercises and handout materials (Materialien) as well as sound and text files of foreign language texts (Fremdsprachentexte) in Finnish, Polish and Chinese. If you would like to stage lessons or parts of it in your classroom and you wish further advice, please report here (see KONTAKT).

Bern CH
Biel CH


One Page Synopsis and Justification
The Composition
The Conceptual Image       


For more materials in German, switch to the German version of the Article