Teaching Grammar Teaching grammar is an essential part


Teaching grammar is an essential part of any English language class. Depending on how the material is taught, however, it can be either a low-energy boring lesson or one that is enjoyable and a positive learning experience. I believe that students truly want to learn grammar because doing so brings them closer to fluency and their language goals. I have found teaching grammar not only an important part of my job, but with enough preparation, a lot of fun too. Therefore, the following suggestions are given with the goal of making the topic of ‘grammar’ more appealing for everyone involved.

As mentioned above, I honestly believe that students are eager to know and understand English grammar. Therefore, it’s important to approach grammar with nothing but positive energy. For example, I’ll make a joke by saying, “It’s Grammar Time,” then hum the music to “Hammer Time.” This may not be your style, but the idea is to immediately instill a sense of fun in learning grammar. Another motivator is by routinely expressing how understanding and using grammar correctly will quickly improve all of the students’ language skills. Rushing through grammar is therefore not recommended. Understanding the grammar well should be the ultimate goal, which may mean taking extra time or rearranging lesson plans if necessary.

In the beginning the students should clearly see the grammar structure being taught. Write on the board “PRESENT PROGRESSIVE: BE + VERBING” or “PASSIVE VOICE: BE + PAST PARTICIPLE”. Then make sure to verbally question them in the following days; “So, how do you ‘make’ or ‘create’ the present progressive (continuous) structure'” This will inevitably help in the future to keep all the various grammar structures as clear as possible. Following this, the teacher should have planned a step-by-step approach to the grammar lesson. Too much, too fast will lead to a lot of frustration for both student and teacher. Therefore, a teacher should concentrate on introducing the first part of the grammar, give examples, get examples, and practice it before taking on any other parts of the structure. For example, Present Perfect (has/have + past participle) has at least three different uses. A teacher should explain this, and then go about slowly introducing one use at a time. Drawing time lines and using examples that students are familiar with helps to strengthen the overall understanding. Keep teacher-talking time to a minimum by having the students actively involved in those examples. For instance, ask a student (Celia) how often she calls her mom. Add the information to a time-line. Encourage the students to use the structure to create a correct Present Perfect sentence: “Celia has called her mom 3 times this week.” Or ask the students to create a time-line and then tell another student everything they have done. “Today, I have eaten breakfast, gotten dressed, taken the bus, and walked to school….” Once the students seem to truly comprehend how and why to use the grammar structure, introduce a fun activity to reinforce it. This could involve the whole class, or small groups, or even pair work. There are several activity books available to give teachers ideas, not to mention fellow teachers who are usually excellent resources. I have found the game “Memory” to be useful for both simple past and present perfect. Before class, the teacher should prepare a stack of cards containing couplets for whichever structure is being taught (One card for each word-- do/did; eat/ate; go/went. OR do/done; eat/eaten; go/ gone). Mix up the cards and place them upside down on a table. The students must turn over two cards at a time to see if they can find a match (do / done). If not, they should flip the cards back over again for the next student to try. As the students are playing, the teacher can make sure the pronunciation is correct and answer any questions.

Follow up any grammar lesson with homework. This could entail worksheets or written work, etc. It’s an important step to solidify grammar comprehension, and it also helps the teacher to see whether the students are understanding or not. As soon as the students begin to feel they are grasping the grammar and are able to use it correctly, their confidence level rapidly increases. This self- confidence then spills over into other skill areas. As a result, the students are eager to continue learning and, before you know it, are actually looking forward to a fun filled day of grammar! Thus to reiterate, stay positive and remind students that understanding grammar is essential for their language goals. Be prepared and introduce grammar in an organized way that isn’t rushed or tries to cover too much to soon. Keep the students involved by having them suggest example ideas and then practicing with each other. Afterwards, reinforce the lesson with FUN activities. Finally follow up with homework to help seal the deal.