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By Vinita C. Gaikwad Teaching Grammar in the Context of Writing 1.

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1 By Vinita C. Gaikwad Teaching Grammar in the Context of Writing 1

2 Overview Background information Theory Application to teaching 2

3 Debate: Is Grammar Teaching Useful? Grammar teaching has no impact on students’ writing. Past Grammar teaching is useful, but only when contextualized. Present Debate: What is the best method of teaching grammar? 3

4 In China, in most schools, grammar is taught in the traditional way. This includes: Memorizing grammatical terms and definitions Completing loads of worksheets and exercises Learning several rules as well as their exceptions 4

5 Task: Write a letter to a friend inviting him/her to a party. Normally, a model letter is provided, and students are encouraged to imitate sentences, substituting some details with their own, such as names, dates, place names, etc. The activity is done using constant reminders that such an activity could appear on their final exam. Students memorize the sentences and reproduce a similar letter when asked in the exam.Task: Write a letter to a friend inviting him/her to a party. Normally, a model letter is provided, and students are encouraged to imitate sentences, substituting some details with their own, such as names, dates, place names, etc. The activity is done using constant reminders that such an activity could appear on their final exam. Students memorize the sentences and reproduce a similar letter when asked in the exam. 5

6 The End Result?  Students acquire grammar skills in isolation  They do not connect their knowledge to their writing tasks  So, even if they pass very well in grammar tests, such as Gao Kao, they find it difficult to produce a composition that is free of grammatical errors. 6

7 There are no miracles here. No matter how students are taught grammatical concepts, syntactic construction and stylistic devices, or language conventions and editing concepts, they will not automatically make use of these in their writing. Relevant research confirms what everyday experience reveals: that teaching ‘grammar’ in the context of writing works better than teaching grammar in isolation. -- Constance Weaver,

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9 9 According to teachers in general, grammar is a difficult subject to teach mostly because they are at a loss for the most effective way to teach it. Students are able to correct sentences in isolation; however, the connection is not made for their everyday writing. Wright, et al. (2006). The most effective way to teach grammar is by teaching it in the context of students’ own writing.’ Formal instruction in grammar is the most ineffective strategy for impacting student writing. Teaching grammar in isolation will not improve student writing. Hillocks (2006).

10 10 How, then, should we teach grammar in the context of writing?  Learning styles specifically refer to an individual’s natural, habitual, and preferred ways of absorbing, processing, and retaining new information and skills (Reid, 1995).  A student’s learning style, their previous learning experience, their attitude and approach toward learning are fundamentally linked (Junko Ueno, 2005). Teaching Style Learning Style Language Teaching should be learner specific.

11 11 Visual native language Visual Culture Good at Math Three Facts about the Chinese Learner

12 12 Mathematical Ability According to a new study, brain scans have revealed that Chinese speakers rely more on visual regions than English speakers when comparing numbers and doing sums (Khamsi, 2006). According to Chen (1997) the Chinese traditionally visualize concepts they wish to retain in their memory. Lau (1996) mentions that they solve mathematical problems easily as compared with others.

13 13 Visual Language Initially, most characters were developed to imitate the image of the real world things.

14 14 Visual Culture Visual Culture

15 15 Visualization of grammar Better Writing Sentence Combining

16 16 Write a paragraph about your friend. Combining sentences or parts of a sentence using the conjunction “and”. Writing Task: Grammar Focus:

17 17 1.Students discuss in pairs. Then report to the class what they have discussed. 2.Students write the first draft. Then share their work with their partner. Teacher assists in the activity and explains, when necessary, the benefits of peer review. 3.Teacher reminds students the definition of a simple sentence. 4.Then explains the following diagram: Two 50-minute periods

18 18 modifier SubjectPredicate The Reed-Kellogg diagrams : A scheme developed by Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg

19 19 5. Students help each other identify some simple sentences from their drafts. 5. Teacher collects a few examples on the board and then carefully chooses one sentence, such as My friend is John. 6. Teacher draws, or displays, a diagram on the board/screen.

20 My 1. My friend is John. 20

21 21 7. Next, ask students to help each other find a sentence that has the word ‘and’. Among the list you collect, carefully choose a sentence like this one: John has a brother and a sister. Identify the two underlying statements:

22 a John has sister a 2. John has a brother and a sister. Identify the two underlying sentences: 22

23 This is a simple sentence that has a compound object. John has brother sister a and a 2. John has a brother and a sister. 23

24 24 8. Encourage the pupils to find similar sentences in each other’s paragraphs and draw diagrams themselves. Go around assisting when necessary. 9. While monitoring the activity, take note of an error relevant to the lesson, and explain it on the board with the use of a diagram.

25 3. John is my best friend and we get along very well. Johnisfriend Weget along best well very and my 25

26 2. John is my best friend and we get along very well. Johnisfriend Weget along my well very and 1. John has a brother and a sister. John has a and a brother sister best 26

27 27 Complete the writing task

28  Encourages learner autonomy  Students learn a point in grammar as well as revise and edit their work. They see immediate results.  Very little terminology is used.  Students identify their own strengths and errors.  The visuals help in conceptualizing.  Can be a fun activity / group activity 28

29  Teach only those grammatical concepts that are needed for editing writing.  Use minimal terminology.  Experiment in sentence combining.  Let them write for a real audience.  Use a variety of visuals, especially sentence diagrams.  Provide opportunities to read. 29 I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences. -- Gertrude Stein

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