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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > Grammar Alone or the whole picture?    

Grammar Alone or the whole picture?


I couldn ´t agree with you more dear libertybelle. I ´ve once talked about it in the forum, but can ´t find the link. I saved it in a file though:
Personally,  I see grammar as a tool to communicate.  That ´s why I  introduce a grammar topic from one language skill: reading, writing, listening or speaking (I try to diversify as much as possible. If in this Task I used listening, in the next one I ´ll use speaking, and then reading, and so forth....). Students get exposed to the language even though they aren ´t aware of it yet. For example, if I use a reading activity to introduce the grammar topic  (always contextualized with the cultural topic of the Task we ´re teaching at the moment), the text I choose  will have the structures they are going to learn and the reading tasks chosen will make the students use those same structures.


After this period of exposure (it can vary from 15 to 40 minutes), it ´s time for students to become aware of the structures they ´ve seen and they ´ve been using. Sometimes I use the correction of the reading (or any other skill) tasks on the board. I ask questions about the sentences, about what is common in them, etc,  to lead them to infer the rules of the use and form. After they inferred the rules with the whole class, it ´s time to systematize it all in a very clear way. If I give a worksheet, they ´ll systematyze it in pairs or individually. If not, I ´ll do it with them on the board and they copy into their notebooks.


And then it ´s time to practise/drill. And that ´s when most of the worksheets I download (or my own) are handed out to the students. I always choose at least 3 different types of exercises, not very long ones, with increasing degree of difficulty. I usually ask the students to do the first exercise in pairs, so that they become more confident, and then individually.


Last but not least, now that the students have the knowledge, it ´s time to put that knowledge in use, i.e., time to develop students communicative competence, because that is what grammar is for. A real situation is created, and students have to use the grammar they learned through one of the language skiils (writing, speaking........). They can create a dialogue and roleplay it to the class, they can write an interview, they can organize a debate, depending on what best suits the grammar topic studied as well as the cultural topic.


That ´s the way I do it. I think it meets the needs of the students and it ´s according to the aims of the  Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

21 Mar 2010     


Dear Mena,

It was a wonderfully clear and substantiated view of bare grammar vs integrated skills!

21 Mar 2010     


I think grammar vs conversation it´s not an appropiate title. I would say grammar and conversation because well in my case I have my students understand grammar using simple comparisons to their native tongue not deep explanations besides I give them only two options in each questions about grammar, such a way  they are learning grammar structures like making a computer program for example if the subject x is a person you have to use whichever pronoun except "it" but if that subject is not a person the only option for the student is to use "it", as I said to simplify grammar the most so ss have got only 2 posible ways.  And the meaning is understood by interpretation through mimes and other resources (in last case translation) or the self analysis of the mother tongue and use is learnt by answering YES or NOT. 
The point for me is to teach grammar to my ss in a way they don´t realize they´re studying grammar avoiding the use of complicated explanations and absolutely not teach them articles, pronouns, possessives, prepositions etc because they come all together in the package I mean in stories where they learn them by the use and where they answer specific questions and they learn by imitation  for ex: Peter went to the park yesterday-- Who went to the park yesterday?, Where did Peter go yesterday, etc. After that we practice conversation a short one according to the time and the verbs or specific words used or lerant that day. well it works fine for me, and I understand there are different methods and every teacher has their favourite one and style. My respects
greetings to everybody

20 May 2010     


Certainly I must add to my former remarks.  At the end of the course my ss are not experts in grammar rather say in an correct explanation of tenses for example but they can handle structures as well so as to express themselves and hava a conversation.  They come to a level where they can speak and put ideas across at an intermediate level  as they do it in their native language but as in their native language they cannot say for example when they should use a past participle tense or a future tense they only use that tense but no idea of an grammatical explanation.
That´s why I always remark that after ending this english course if they want to get ahead in english they need to study grammar as an mandatory intermediate course or they can leave it like that . I mean  they can stay in that level.
All in all they can speak but their knowledge in grammar, I have to recognize it , is very poor as much as most students´ knowledge is in their native language when they begin a foreign language learning.
Well thanks again

20 May 2010     

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