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While the construct of rule as a manipulation of purely formal properties of language has been widely abandoned in both formal and functional linguistics, it persists, though with diminished importance, in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). This is true even in Form-Focused Instruction (FFI), including Focus-on-Form (FonF), which emphasizes meaning as both classroom focus and element of language structure. This paper illustrates the meaningfulness of grammar, even where treatment has often appealed to such rules; identifies areas of overlap between what is identified by the term rule and what is identified by the terms meaning (semantics) and form (morphology), and points out the lack of descriptive adequacy of some familiar rules. The author offers research- and practice-based recommendations for pursuing a fully meaning-based communicative approach to teaching grammar even while suitable and comprehensive resource materials for such methods in language education are lacking.


This work was originally published in Language and linguistics compass.



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