The Importance of Grammar and How We Teach it
Teaching grammar is one of the most challenging things for a teacher of English. As a student, it is essential to learn grammar as this gives you accuracy both in writing and speaking. This applies to every language, not only to English.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Adrian D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Grammar vs. Math
In many ways grammar can be compared to Mathematics; they both have a set of rules and exceptions that have to be known and practiced until you become so familiar with them that you don’t have to think about them when solving problems in everyday life (for example when you make a simple calculation like 7x8) or, respectively, in everyday communication.
Balanced Approach to Teaching
A balance must be kept between teaching grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary during a lesson. This is because teaching only grammar can be very boring and because if we want to speak we also need vocabulary and correct pronunciation. The boredom of teaching and learning only grammar comes from the fact that grammar contains a sort of abstract concepts. These abstract concepts, rules, and exceptions will be very well assimilated by the students only if you give them as many examples as possible and make them practice grammar through many kinds of exercises. The teacher should encourage students to practice grammar at home by giving them exercises for homework and taking care to introduce grammar in the tests the students have to pass. Thus you can develop in students a desire and a pleasure to speak English accurately.
Many English language courses have got an appendix with grammar rules at the back of the student’s book for every unit or lesson and the teacher should read these grammar rules and consider them when preparing material for that lesson.
Verb as a Core of Language Teaching
The most important chapter in the grammar of any language is the verb as most of the sentences contain a verb to communicate something. Thus the verb can be considered the “spine” of the language.
A lot of grammar can be learned through extensive reading. The students can choose to read stories or novels written in English. They should be encouraged to read as many literary books as possible as well as any authentic materials they can get: newspapers, magazines, etc. If they like English or American movies and serials they should be encouraged to watch them without subtitles in their mother tongue.
Approaches to Teaching Grammar
Two main approaches to grammar are known. These are the deductive and the inductive approach.
A deductive approach is when the rule is presented and the language is produced based on the rule. The rule is given by the teacher. The deductive approach is undoubtedly time-saving and allows more time for practicing the language items thus making it an effective approach with lower-level students. It cannot be used with beginners unless you know their L1 language and decide to use it in class.
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An inductive approach is when the rule is inferred through some form of guided discovery. The teacher gives the students a means to discover the rule for themselves, an example. This requires a higher level of understanding English if you choose not to use L1 to explain the rule to the students and explain the rule in English.
While studying grammar (and not only) the students should be stimulated to use associations and acronyms. For example, when teaching the adjective order in front of a noun they can be given an acronym like VSAFCSOM (Value, Size, Age, Form, Color, Style, Origin, Material) that contains all they have to know about this.
While teaching the use of tenses in English you can use the Axis of Time. Thus you can better explain for example the use of Past Perfect.
Past Perfect Past Tense Present Future
The teacher has to explain to the students how tense forms, how the new structure works in everyday speaking or other different situations. The presentation may be done by explaining in detail the grammatical point and analyzing the components (e.g. Present Perfect Simple – its structure is more complicated – auxiliary verb + past participle). However, students may find grammatical concepts difficult.
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In conclusion, grammar is very important for someone who wants to communicate accurately in English and once learned it gives satisfaction to the students that discover the secrets of a new language. A newly learned language means a new communication interface and access to another culture.
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