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Advanced English Grammar for Non-Native ESL Teachers

Advanced English Grammar for Non-Native ESL Teachers | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Hey guys, nice to see you again. It's Liza here, I'm glad to welcome you to the weekly live session. If you can hear me and see me please let me know that everything is working smoothly, because just three minutes before the live session my home wi-fi connection cut off and I had to switch on the mobile internet. I'm scared that something might not work that well, so please let me know that it works. I really hope that this internet connection problem won't cause any troubles.

Watch the live session here

Hello Rosie, thank you so much for letting me know. Hello guys, I can see that there are some people from Pakistan. I can also see some regulars, thanks for coming. Let's move on to the first part of the presentation and I would like to remind you that today's topic is devoted to English grammar for non-native English teachers. This topic can be a bit controversial and I hope that you won't see it as an education session, because it's more about motivation and understanding how to organize your work and study. I would like to share my personal experience and also to hear from you because English grammar is something really important, but at the same time people pay too much attention to it, especially when they are not native speakers.

I won't pay attention to the comments right now, but I can see that there are many hellos and greetings, I'm so impressed guys. Thank you so much for coming today, I hope I'll be helpful and informative. Let me just move on to the second slide and show you some stats. So before this session I decided to ask the audience on our YouTube channel what they find difficult in English learning, either grammar or vocabulary. As you can see from this slide, 68% of people believe that grammar is more difficult than vocabulary. Actually for me right now grammar isn't as difficult as vocabulary, I would say they are on the same level. But that's my personal opinion. I will try to explain why I think so.

When we think of English grammar it can seem really challenging as there are a lot of rules and many contradicting rules. Probably the biggest hurdle in this whole situation would be that English grammar varies a lot from your native tongue’s grammar. For example, in Russian there are no articles which is why all Russian speakers struggle to use articles in a correct way. I believe that the same might happen in your native languages. Let's take a vote, do you think that the above mentioned problems are an issue to consider when we learn English grammar? Please send me either plus or minus in the chat box. So do you agree that all of those things related to rules and maybe differences between English and the native tongues are really important? What do you guys think? Let's have this bit of communication so that I understand that there are some people behind the screen and we are on the same page.

I can see that some of you have answered that actually rules and native tongues are really important. However, from my point of view it doesn't matter that much if we compare those problems to some bigger issues like the ones I listed on this slide. When we learn English at the earlier stages of our lives, like when we are beginners or maybe intermediate level students, we find the rules and differences between two different languages are crucial. However, when we reach the advanced level or maybe upper intermediate it turns out that there are some other factors that influence our grammar ability. You can see them here. From my point of view it's really problematic for non-native English speakers that we don't have as much practice as native speakers and it's probably obvious. We believe that our best choice would be to drill theoretical points but it's a great mistake in my opinion.

The second problem actually stems from the first one, they are complementary. We don't have the same environment in our countries, we are not exposed to English on a regular basis. It's hardly possible to speak English once or twice a week when we live in Russia or China or anywhere else in the world. Unlike in native English-speaking countries and even those countries where tourism is well developed. The last point which I consider really important is that we don't know how to learn effectively and we choose the most inefficient strategies. What I mean by saying the most inefficient strategies is that we tend to drill a lot. For example, when we go on the internet and search advanced English vocabulary we find a lot of word lists. Those words are really good, however, they are not helpful at all because they are provided as just word lists, we don't know how to use them in our everyday life. We don't know how they are used in context and that's the biggest mistake. I believe to reach the advanced level both in English grammar and in vocabulary it's really important that we switch from this old-fashioned way of learning things to a more progressive one.

As teachers we sometimes stick to habitual ineffective learning strategies. We know that drilling isn't that effective, we've read it in the methodological courses. When I took the TEFL course with ITTT there was a module devoted to the most progressive methods of teaching and I learned that drilling wasn't effective at that time. I still didn't stop using it myself as a learner, do you have anything like that in your bad habits list? Let me know. Another problem which is also quite common to advanced level students is that we stop taking English classes. For example, being an English learner at the intermediate level we want to level up and we want to reach the advanced level. In order to do that we take English classes, we work on our vocabulary and grammar on a regular basis and we want to pass exams and stuff like that. But when we reach this desirable advanced level we just stop doing it because we feel like that's enough. I'm okay with the advanced level, I'm done.

Another problem would be that many English learners and English teachers don't try to communicate enough. To practice grammar, to practice vocabulary we have to communicate. The last point to mention, but not the least, is that we often ignore other opportunities to learn. What I mean by other opportunities is for example taking part in competitions in English or maybe joining a community or a study group in English. Taking as many possibilities to practice English in daily life is really important, to take part in other activities in English not in your native language. As for mastering grammar on your own, how could you do that? First thing is to stop drilling, stop using word lists. I know that I've mentioned I do it myself, it's my guilty pleasure. I'm ashamed of it and I try to stop drilling and at the same time I would recommend you try to connect English to something really meaningful. For example, I noticed that the biggest step I took was that I started watching movies in English without any subtitles and that helped me to understand English grammar in the most natural way. Also, I take English classes to prepare for the CPE exam and we focus on the most challenging grammar points, conditional sentences and stuff like that. The most challenging points for maybe all English learners and native speakers as well.

I also found myself reading in English, so let me show you my book, it's called Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. I knew that this book was a bestseller and when I bought it I just wanted to read it. But when I started I realized that it is full of conditional sentences and other grammar stuff which made me feel so crazy. This way is probably the most beneficial way to understand English grammar, always try to connect it to something meaningful to you. If we go back to the very first slide with the stats you see that there are just two options, grammar or vocabulary. But obviously there are some other areas in English which you might struggle with sometimes, for example speaking or maybe listening. I know that some people are more visual and they accept the materials when they are visualized better. They tend to have problems with listening and again when you listen to something you also hear some grammar and when you read something you face grammar rules as well. So my recommendation is that you start implementing your grammar learning in your daily life and you try to find grammar all over, in English books, in TV shows and wherever else you can. This is why I believe English grammar isn't that difficult, it's just our attitude and approach to learning it.

Okay, what do you guys think? Do you agree or disagree? The next point would be, should there be any formal learning? When we talk about grammar I believe formal learning is still useful sometimes, we just don't want to invest that much money into formal classes for example. But this way you can get some more experience from native English speaking teachers. As for myself, as I mentioned before I take classes in a CPE group and our English teacher is from the UK. He's trained in this exam stuff, so when we work on the grammatical points or on vocabulary or any other aspects of English he gives the most proficient feedback on how to use this or that in daily life. What else, maybe how to write appropriate letters or essays and stuff like that, so I still think that taking classes is something really beneficial for you as a learner. At the same time formal learning might take place in your own study process, but I would recommend you combine some formal ways to learn English and grammar as well. For example, you take a grammar book and then do some exercises and after that practice by watching your favorite TV show and try to focus on those grammar points which you have just faced.

I also know that some people struggle to practice grammar in their daily life, especially in speech because they don't have this environment, this community of open-minded people. That is why I would like to invite you to the group I have created for this very purpose. I would really like to build a community of open-minded people who are interested in English and who want to use it in their daily life. So if you scan this QR code you can get directly to that group, although it doesn't have any content yet. I have just created the first banner, but I promise to create several posts this week and share some tips on how to work on your grammar as well. I hope that it's something that might interest you and I would like to welcome you all to this group. We can make a great community there.

Let's go to the next slide. I want to send you a link to this group actually, so that you can find it from the desktop as well. I will be really pleased if you get into the group and maybe send me some feedback on this session or just your greetings. I'm really eager to communicate with people from all over the world, it's something which fascinates me a lot. Last week I did the session about Miro and lesson design and some of you added me as a friend on Facebook and I had such a nice conversation. Sigra has just joined the new group, so there are two of us now.

Let me see what's next. I would like to invite you to brainstorm. I know that you guys are pretty experienced in English teaching and in English learning, so do you have any ideas on how to improve your English grammar? If so, please share your ideas right now and I will share your responses on the screen so that everyone can see your strategies for mastering English grammar. As I have already mentioned, the way I work on my grammar is more active than passive. Of course, I take English classes and I study by the book but I still try to find grammar wherever I can, when I watch TV shows for example. The last one I was binge watching was How To Get Away With Murder. It helped me to practice conditional sentences because there were so many of them and as for the reading part, I also find a lot of difficult examples in terms of tenses, inverted sentences, conditional sentences, as well as many advanced words and phrases.

So it's important to practice grammar in your speech as well. If you for example learned some grammatical points but you don't know how to practice them in your speech, it's a great idea to write down a sentence and practice it as a part of your writing routine. You can then just read it out loud and record yourself so that you can hear yourself use this grammar point correctly. That's also a great idea and I believe it's really useful, sometimes I do it myself. By the way, for some reason I forgot to add it to the slide but my favorite way to learn grammar is to teach it.

As part of the TEFL course, especially the 120 hour course, there is a great amount of grammar in it and it explains how to teach challenging grammatical points well. It's also a great way for teachers to understand grammar better. What do you think? By the way, next Wednesday I start teaching a group of advanced students. They are actually going to be mixed ability students, but some of them are pretty advanced and the approach I would like to implement is more active. So I will try to focus on speaking and maybe some other productive skills like writing, instead of doing some exercises and stuff like that. It's going to be a conversation group and I'm so excited that I could find such a job opportunity because I think this way will help me to work on myself as well. Teaching grammar is a great way to practice it as an English teacher.

I can see that there are not that many strategies, but maybe you guys are hesitant, so don't be afraid to share your ideas. Maybe you use some really interesting strategies on how to learn grammar and they might help some other people, don't be afraid to share your ideas in the comments section. Right now let's go to this section of the presentation which is the Q&A section. Here we can discuss various aspects like TEFL teaching, English learning and whatever else might interest you. So if you have any specific questions feel free to ask me via the chat box. Also, here you can see this QR code, it is a code that gives you this really nice 30% discount off any ITTT course. So if you want to start your teaching career, this is the first step to take. You can simply scan it and then choose the most interesting course for you.

Okay, so I can see that there are some other ideas on how to learn grammar and I would like to share them with you. The best teaching requires two things, target centered teaching and taking notes of what extent the student is capable of. All four skills are really important. Yeah, I agree but this is more about teaching rather than learning. What about some points on how to learn English grammar? Anyway, we are here to discuss all stuff around TEFL so feel free to ask me whatever questions you have and I will try my best to help you out with it. Maybe you're interested in a specific TEFL course but you are doubtful, so it's the time to ask me.

By the way, I would like to make an announcement about the session next week. I am going to invite my friend who is now working in China to have an interview. I think this topic will be extremely interesting to many people because I know that there are many teachers who want to teach abroad and China is probably one of the most interesting destinations. So don't forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube or on Facebook and keep in touch because we will make this announcement maybe at the end of the week. I will create a new event related to this interview because last week one of the viewers asked me to talk a little bit more about jobs abroad and he wanted to know more about China.

I stopped teaching in China two years ago and I hardly know anything about it right now. I don't communicate with any recruiters or follow any groups for English teachers in China, but I really want to be valuable and I want to share the most up-to-date content with you which is why I decided to invite my friend who is now there. He has been teaching in China for the whole quarantine period and he is still teaching there actually, so that's a really interesting topic to discuss. Quarantine in China, how was that and what did they do? How much money they were paid, everybody was sitting at home at that time and I'm really curious about the point of money.

So if you guys don't have any questions on TEFL teaching and stuff like that I think that is all for today's session. Just let me remind you that ITTT is represented all over your favorite social networks. So if you want to keep updated please subscribe to our Facebook group and maybe Instagram as well. Keep in touch and if you have any questions related to TEFL or teaching abroad you can ask us on the messenger or you can email us and we will try to be as helpful as possible.

So this is the end of today's session and I think that grammar stuff was pretty fast. I would like to remind you once again that I created this Facebook community for English learners and English teachers who really want to feel part of a global community. Feel free to join me and I will try my best to share my personal experience and some useful content. Thank you so much for spending these 40 minutes with me. I hope that my live session was interesting and it helped you somehow, but if you want to keep in touch with me personally join this group or add me as a friend on Facebook. I really like to communicate and I will be just amazed if there are any people interested in making friends with me. Stay tuned for the next session's topic, it's going to be really interesting and I hope it will work out because my friend is pretty busy in China. Thanks a lot guys and I'll see you next week. Bye, bye.

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