This is a position paper aimed at the interface between meaning-oriented linguistics generally and instructed language-learning. The alliance between usage-based linguistics and form-focused instruction in language teaching stands to benefit from advances on both sides: a recognition by theoretical linguists that systematic meanings of grammatical forms are responsible for observed, emerging patterns of usage; and a greater willingness on the part of advocates of the teaching of grammar to engage in focusing upon individual, meaningful grammatical forms, as distinct from unanalyzed, holistic form. Explicit knowledge of forms and their meanings can usefully guide the practice of teachers and, potentially, the performance of learners. Pending the wide availability of practical analyses, teachers’ and learners’ focused grammatical inquiry on authentic discourse can yield useful insights about both language structure and discourse.
Davis, J. (2015). Rule, pattern, and meaning in the second-language teaching of grammar. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia, 47:1, 53-75.