Is conjugation a dirty word?

At the ACTFL Conference in Denver I overheard someone saying that a teacher asked her, “Since when did conjugation become a dirty word?”  No one is refuting the fact that we must use verbs in their conjugated form to communicate accurately what we want to say.  As John DeMado says, we do not need grammar to communicate, but rather to avoid miscommunication.  I think conjugation gets a negative connotation when it becomes the end in itself in a classroom, when it is the end goal.  Some may argue that is necessary for students to master verb conjugations before they can communicate.  My question is, how do we know this?  Do we have research to demonstrate that this is true?  I read a very interesting article online, and part of it dealt with the subject of a priori grammar, or needing to master the grammar concept before communication can take place.  The article mentions a new concept for me, emergent grammar, which is acquiring the needed grammar during the act of communication.  All this stuff is like a revelation to me, why did I never learn this?  And how many other world language teachers already know this?  Am I that behind the times?

Here is the article that made my brain whirl: http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=8&n=8

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