Teaching Grammar To Young Learners Effectively
Given that grammar is, unquestionably, one of the fundamental pillars of essentially any language, it is therefore of utmost importance to educate learners the correct grammatical rules, and even more preferably, when the learners are of a very young age, so that they can, presumably, have a better grasp of the underlying grammatical rules before they embrace on a pursuit of more advance intellectual knowledge.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate CHUN YAN T. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Status of the English Grammar
Nonetheless, because English grammar is, by no means, the easiest to fully comprehend, not to mention the numerous grammatical exceptions existing within the English language, it can, in turn, pose a great challenge to those shouldering the responsibility for teaching our future generations. In this regard, this paper discusses the two possible methods for delivering grammar lessons to young learners in an effective way.
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Games and Grammar
Unsurprisingly, arguably one of the most effective ways to impart grammatical rules to young learners is to incorporate games during lessons. According to a research conducted by Pathan and Aldersi, it is highlighted that given young learners are not extrinsically motivated to learn grammar as they are highly unlikely to understand the importance of learning proper grammar, it is, as a result, vital to motivate young learners intrinsically, for example via the implementation of games into the process of grammar learning (Pathan & Aldersi, 2014). For instance, a game of hangman or puzzle can prove to be relaxing and engaging to the young learners when they are learning a set of prescriptive grammatical rules.
Furthermore, it is discovered by the same research that despite the feeling of boredom expressed by the students, they, however, unanimously agreed that games are a useful and interesting way to learn grammar, with a majority of them also in agreement with the notion that learning grammar is fun and easy.
While using games as a means to teach is incontestably the growing trend, grammar teaching with the aid of corpora is a means that one cannot afford to overlook. Proponents of this method advocate that authentic languages should be used to teach English grammar since it helps relate English topics, inclusive of grammatical topics, with the learners’ real-life experiences.
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A study conducted by Girgin has shown that using authentic materials during class when teaching young learners can break the feeling of ‘repetitive drilling’ as perceived by many the learners at lower levels of EFL proficiency and thereby creating a sense of ‘freshness’ to those learning grammatical structure given that grammar is largely perceived as something highly structured and sometimes uninteresting (Girgin, 2011). For example, a gap-fill exercise of prepositions created using text messages can help relate young learners with real-life scenarios that they are very likely to be encountering daily and hence provoking the learners’ interests into practicing the correct use of prepositions.
Despite the obvious advantages associated with the two aforementioned methods, there are, however, limitations worthwhile of attention. First, games may not be what an institution may prefer in the first place, which means that an institution may prefer a form of teaching method, for example, drillings over games; therefore, it is sensible to seek prior approval from the respective educational institution before employing any kinds of game in the classroom settings.
Next, while corpus-based activities are useful and interesting according to empirical studies, extracting and selecting the relevant corpus for the right level of young learners are extremely time-consuming, if not entirely impossible. Worse still, teachers have to learn the commands for using a particular corpus database for extracting the relevant data and that may pose difficulties for the teachers and thereby causing potential challenges during the preparation of teaching materials (Samburskiy, 2014).
Additionally, taken account of the fact that teachers may extract results that differ from the prescriptive grammatical rules of the course books, teachers are, therefore, strongly advised to select corpus data with caution in a way that can deliver the intended teaching objectives without impeding the students’ understanding of the concerned knowledge from real-life examples.
For example, according to a research published by (Phoocharoensil, 2012), it is discovered that the three fundamental conditional structures comprise less than 50% of actual use and most native speakers tend to alter the structures of the conditionals to a certain extent. In that sense, teachers ought to pay attention to selecting the most grammatically accurate examples for young learners.
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All in all, games and corpus-based activities have been proven by studies that they can drive motivation and therefore having the young learners more engaged in the learning process albeit its potential challenges.
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