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Teach English in JinshAndian Zhen - Huangshi Shi
Grammar - The advantages and disadvantages of teaching grammar in TEFL lessons By teaching grammar in TEFL lessons teachers aim to provide a structure to help students to be able to express their ideas. In essence, by teaching grammar patterns and structure of language teachers hope to give foreign language learners the foundations of a new language. The danger is that students learn grammatical rules at the expense of becoming users of a new language. A good command of the grammar of a language does not imply that a student will be able to communicate effectively. It could be argued that there is a danger that grammar can inhibit students as they are constantly thinking about which rules apply. What teachers of English as an Additional Language (EAL) should do is to enable their students to become users of language who can actively engage in communication, using appropriate language patterns, and not simply to be able to explain grammatical rules. A user of their own native language may lack a conscious ability to describe how their language works, i.e. its grammar, but intuitively and unconsciously they are able to apply the rules nonetheless. Although I am a native English speaker the units that I found most challenging in this TEFL course were those that covered grammar. I acknowledge that the way that I learnt my own language would be difficult to emulate in the classroom. However, if TEFL students could become users of language in this same manner, they would become effective communicators, users of a language. Does this mean that grammar should not be taught? No, I would argue that it must be. However, it is the way that grammar is taught that matters. For students to be able to master a language it should be included in all lessons. Grammar after all is the backbone of any language. The concept of a lesson plan as outlined in the teaching for this course demonstrates how students can be taught to become users of the language they are learning. By using Engage, Study, Activate (ESA) to plan lessons students are exposed initially to real language and real situations in context. The initial focus is not what grammatical rule we will look at today but on meaning and understanding. The Study part of the lesson then becomes the time where you can focus on particular patterns. It is only at this point that you would consider how to formally teach how a rule works. Now that students have seen the rule in practice it would be appropriate for them to learn how to use and manipulate the rule. And finally Engage – Students should be given the opportunity to use what they have learnt, to fix these new structures in their brains. The ultimate aim is for students to become a user of the language in context and not simply to understand grammatical rules. They need to be given the opportunity to make mistakes and practice what they have learnt. A good teacher will create real or realistic situations in which students can communicate, make mistakes and receive encouragement. The ESA approach to lesson planning allows students to understand grammar but within a clear context which they can use beyond the classroom.