The role of grammar is one of the key questions in foreign language teaching and we propose to make grammar instruction the main focus of this issue.
The question of grammar will thus be addressed with a narrower focus than in Babylonia 2/2003, in which the contributions dealt with various aspects of grammar in foreign language teaching, their common denominator being "the necessity to broaden the notion of grammar beyond the simple morphological and syntactic description which was supposed to promote the development of the learners' productive skills".
Explicit grammar teaching can be approached in various ways. First and foremost, it is essential to take into account research findings on instructed foreign language learning and the principles that ensue.
In this issue, we set out from the assumption that explicit grammar instruction has its rightful place in language teaching. How do course books present grammar? What approaches do they suggest? We find it particularly important to examine grammar in the current context of the action-oriented approach and to look for successful examples of integrated focus on form(s). Against this background, one may also wish to examine the place given to grammar in the new curricula (PER and Lehrplan 21) and what it entails for teachers in Switzerland.
It should also be made clear what grammar we are talking about. What are the functions of descriptive, pedagogical and learner grammars? Are we interested in grammar as a system or in the way it is used in various texts and text types? What are the pedagogical possibilities contained in these points of view? Multilingually oriented language teaching is based on the assumption that an integrated approach, linking mother tongue, language of schooling and foreign languages, promotes language learning. How are languages similar and where do they diverge? How can research findings in comparative linguistics be useful for teaching?