Hold The Front Page: Harmer Rejects “Grammar Syllabus”

In an interview at the IATEFL 2017 Conference in Glasgow today, Harmer struck the unlikely pose of innovator. Having spent the last 40 years defending ELT orthodoxy, it seems that Harmer has suddenly realised that change is inevitable. Here he is, “frightened but excited”, warning any complacent conference goers that these are turbulent times. He stumbles along with the usual stuff about the implications of technology, but then comes this bombshell, and I quote:

 The grammar syllabus has been there all my professional life, but there’s no evidence as far as I can see that that’s how people learn.

And there’s more! Harmer refers repeatedly to the threat of disruption. “We’re vulnerable to disruption”, he warms, and by “we” I suppose he refers to the ELT establishment. “We have to be match fit, ready to meet this disruption, not let it hit us on the nose” he says. The General English grammar based course is vunerable to disruption. Classroom teaching is vulnerable too.

In these times of change, Harmer says, what’s important is a willingness to challenge our assumptions. He went on:

And I don’t think we’re doing enough of that. If this disruption is coming towards us, we need to be ready for it. Now more than ever we need to challenge every assumption we hold. We really need to challenge more.

“And”, asks the interviewer, “have you put this into practice …. Have you been challenging yourself in your writing?

“Little bits and pieces”, replied Harmer. “I’m about to embark on a project where I hope there’ll really be some innovations.”

What? More than one???  OMG!!! What further surprises does IATEFL 2017 have in store? Remember – you read it first here! 



6 thoughts on “Hold The Front Page: Harmer Rejects “Grammar Syllabus”

  1. “I’m about to embark on a project where I hope there’ll really be some innovations.” Either he’s going in for some kinky transvestism or perhaps has a new book out. I don’t know which I prefer.


  2. Innovations…not much, so far. Mostly how can we help teachers be autonomous, technology in the classroom and researchers vs teachers.


  3. The only thing I’ve heard him say was ‘Hi’ when I said ‘ah, you’re that musician’.

    Problem with being a steward is you don’t get time to discuss matters.

    None of what I mentioned previously is innovative, to be clear


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