From time to time, it is stimulating to check out what's happening in the field of TESL (or TESOL) either by attending a conference or reading a journal. In my case, I spent a few hours this weekend reading through several articles published in a special edition (September 07) of an electronic TESL journal.
This issue focuses on "The Current Status of Standards of English Grammar" and features such well-known writers/teachers as Betty Azar, Marianne Celce-Murcia, and Michael Swan. I recommend taking a little time to digest the writings and reflect on your own teaching style.
At my school, we have 2 hour 45 minute 'grammar' classes (which meet 3 times per week). We use Betty Azar's GBT (grammar-based teaching with her textbooks), with some FonF (Focus on Form) along with the New Interchange series (which has a more concept-based teaching approach - CBT), always in a communicative language context. From all of the writers in this e-journal, I gained reinforcement of the idea that the most effective language teaching methods are those that engage the students because of interesting content and useful grammatical constructs that allow them to express themselves and be understood.
I agree with Swan who says that "a glance at any history of language teaching will show 'language in use' has been taught, well or badly, since languages were first studied" and that much of the debate over whether to teach 'meaning' or 'use' in the context of grammar structures might be better spent on more fruitful endeavors (Swan, 2007). In addition, I fully understand Azar's defense of her GBT approach, which some have apparently identified as one that excludes communicative language teaching (CLT). She emphasized "doing both" as her motto; I'd say do 'all' of the above - which means use all the tools and concepts you have available to get your students to use their English well and often.
The one discouraging thing about reading some of these articles is the realization that when practitioners and academics of ESL try to talk to each other about subjects that should lead their readership to enlightenment, they can lose us in a sea of acronyms. I had no idea there were so many three-letter 'words' for every school of thought about ESL teaching!