Teaching the Core of Grammar
Grammar or grammer! The most common error in the spelling of ‘grammar’, however, it is still debatable among few teachers, whether grammar or vocabulary should be considered the most important aspect of the English language. A balanced diet makes a person healthy similarly a balanced understanding of all aspects of a language makes it complete.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Annu M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
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English is widely spoken across the globe and most nationalities are now able to communicate using the basic structure. Once a learned man said, “You need not have a great grasp of the English language, as long as you can convey the message clearly, you are an English speaker.” I was not very sure if that could be considered as a valid statement as it came from a non-native speaker. Nevertheless, it boosted my confidence to speak more fluently and at this point, I can speak in an accent and tone that is almost similar to a native speaker. So, sometimes, we need a little prompting and encouragement for improvement.
Challenges of Teaching Grammar
Teaching grammar is not an ‘easy-peasy’ task despite many available resources including books, online resources, etc. It is noticed that the more resources are used, the more confusing it becomes to understand the rules of grammar. Though many sources follow the same explanations, some books, depending on the publisher, may give different explanations and escalate to the confusions. As I have been in the teaching field for many years and specifically teaching English, grammar has become the most essential chunk that I prefer to cover during my lessons.
What is it for?
Without grammar, English is like a pizza without cheese. Recently, I read a book written by a not-so-famous author, it was an autobiography. The language usage was simple and clear for readers; some figurative language was also used to allow imagination, but the most disappointing feature was- incorrectly used grammar! That had put me off and I stopped reading the book. This shows how important grammar (not only vocabulary) is to hook the readers.
A student once showed reluctance to learn subject-verb agreement. According to him: Why subject-verb agreement is important to learn as it does not make much difference in the understanding of the text. As a teacher, it gave me many reasons to think if the student had a correct understanding or it needed to be modified. Figuring out what to answer him (he was just 10-year old) and also making sure that my answer makes sense, I answered, “How strong can a building stand if the foundation is weak? Will it be able to withstand earthquakes ( I knew he could relate to earthquakes since the area was earthquake-prone). Being a quick-witted boy, he replied (in a typical Indonesian tone), “Of course lah! It will fall!” I got my answer in his answer and made him understand that grammar is one of the strongest pillars of the English language. If not learned, the upshot could be upsetting.
Also Read: Do I need a degree to teach English abroad?
Process of Teaching Grammar
Grammar teaching should be taken step-by-step making sure that the previous understanding is completely absorbed by the students. Teachers need to make sure that they read a few resources and strengthen their knowledge before imparting it to others. To teach correctly, it is advisable to discuss with colleagues who may have more experience in dealing with grammatical structures. It is always a proud moment for a teacher to see his/her students using the correct form of grammar and excelling in their writing skills.
Not to brag, I would like to share an incident when one of my Grade 2 students (now studying in California University) recently bumped into me at a mall with his younger sister and showed his appreciation. (Actually, I had taught him in Grade 2 in my previous school and after that gave him private lessons until Grade 10.) Surprisingly, he still remembered how I had taught him past perfect tense in his previous years of learning and how he had memorized the past participles by heart. Even that day, after a brief conversation, he argued with his sister and confirmed with me if the past participle of the verb swim was swum or swam. I heard him saying: swim, swam, swum.
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Teaching every feature of a language is important, provided it has a strong foundation that makes a strong structure. As quoted by Edgar Allan Poe: A man’s grammar, like Caesar’s wife, should not only be pure, but above the suspicion of impurity.
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