Teach English in Huashi Zhen - Wuxi Shi

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Grammar never appears to students very attractive and it is often considered “boring” or “difficult”. That’s the reason why teaching grammar to a class is always challenging. Even being grammar the bearing structure of a language, we should be always careful to give it the right “weight” and make sure that in our plan there is always a balanced mix of grammar and other skills like vocabulary, listening, reading, speaking and writing. First of all we should communicate to students the importance of grammar and a proper introduction at the beginning of the course would probably help. Grammar is not disconnected from other activities which are considered more “fun”, rather it gives the right tools to be able to practice other skills in a more comfortable way. It is like the basement or the structure of a house we want to build, if the structure is solid, all the rest will come easier. In order to make our students motivate we need first to be ourselves, as teachers, motivated and passionate about this topic. And yes, grammar can be fun, it only depends on the way we teach it and how we are able to engage students in the activities. Lessons typically targeted on grammar often use the “straight arrow” ESA pattern, especially with beginners, while with intermediate or advanced classes we could use also patchwork or boomerang patterns. Which language structure we introduce it always depend on the level of the class we are teaching and on the program of the course we are following, but, as a general rule, the main goals we should have are: students should be able to understand the meaning (what the language means), they should learn the common usage of a particular structure or grammar point, they should learn and practice forms and patterns and they should understand the possible difference from a written form and spoken form. But how we could make all of this interesting and fun? As I was mentioning at the beginning, a proper introduction about the importance of grammar could be very helpful and we could plan it in different ways according to the class level and age range we are teaching. I would avoid of course this initial approach with children or very young learners. In order to get students participation at this first stage, it could be nice to make a bulletin board or anchor chart to hang somewhere in the classroom that students can fill themselves answering the question: “Why Grammar matters?. Each one could write (in English) his or her own point of view. The engage part of an ESA lesson targeted to Grammar will be the opportunity we have to generate interest and fun. First of all it is very important to know the interests of the students. By knowing this, it will be easier to get them involved into an initial discussion where the aim would be to bring them, in a fun way, to the main grammar topics. Another way could be to ask them questions on a particular topic they may like to talk about or if the class is still not ready for a group discussion I would use visuals like images or drawings. During the study phase I would use the topic discussed during the engage phase to highlight and point out the grammar structure we should focus on. The board would be a very useful tool to report some sentences of the discussion and use colors or underline the grammar structure I am explaining. The board could be used also to make some practice by filling gaps in sentences involving all the class in an active participation. I would write on the board only the most crucial points trying to be clear and concise but very effective so that they will not get the feeling they are overloaded of information. In this phase the workbook is also a very important tool. I would let students practice with some exercises in pairs or little groups according to the size of the class that we will then correct together. I would also give a small homework that will help me to check if the information has been retained and to find possible weakness to work on during the following lesson. Last but not least, during the activate phase of the lesson I would let students practicing the language they have been learning in a kind of “real contest”. During this phase, I would organize fun games like role-play or if the class is more advanced I would stimulate a discussion where each student should use the grammar structure that we were practicing during the study phase. Teaching grammar generating interest and fun is not a “standard procedure” but it depends on several factors related to the class we are teaching. The scenarios I pictured above are just examples to explain the most important points and the structure I would potentially give to the lesson. Concluding my essay I Would like to underline the main points which answer to my initial question: How could I make teaching grammar interesting and fun? Understanding the interest of the students, use the activate stage as an opportunity to catch their attention, animate the study phase with interactive exercises and let them concluding with an activate stage where they have fun by practicing the structure they have been learning. If they finish the class having fun and still being motivated, the “grammar aversion” may turn into a “grammar passion”!