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Chapter 11 – Grammar: Finding a Balance

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1 Chapter 11 – Grammar: Finding a Balance

2 In most countries, GRAMMAR is the main focus of the English classroom
In most countries, GRAMMAR is the main focus of the English classroom. Even though MINDS ARE CHANGING and everyone wants more communication, the way of teaching is still focused on GRAMMAR. Grammar is important for learning a new language… BUT it’s NOT the most important. Grammar Trees

3 Grammar: Some Basic Points
p What is Grammar? Balance: Grammar is important, but it’s not the most important. Grammar rules are NOT laws. They are descriptions about language. Many rules were created AFTER observing the way people speak. Rules change over time. People don’t speak, by remembering rules. Most people remember phrases or sentence patterns when they speak. Basis of English Not important at all Grammar is a tool. I will buy a tool if… 1 tool has many purposes.  1 grammar rule helps to make many useful phrases. If the rules aren’t general, maybe it’s better to memorize the phrase, not the rule.

4 Personal Example You should think of 4 or 5 personal examples or experiences and add them anywhere you want. It can be about one point or a couple points together. Don’t make an example for each point AND don’t worry to find one example that matches every point.

5 Grammar: Some Basic Points
p. 188 – How is grammar learned? Think of 1st language: Babies learn their first words around 1-2 years old. After 2-4 years (3-6 years old), children can speak fluently, more or less. But then, the next years in school, they are still learning more reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. 2nd language is different, but some comparisons: It’s faster to learn a second language because your brain is already developed, but learning takes time. Interlanguage  The language between 1st and 2nd language. It mixes some things of 1st and 2nd language. All language learners have an interlanguage before they can know a second language.

6 Grammar: Some Basic Points
p. 188 – How well should grammar be learned? Just like vocabulary, we need receptive grammar (reading & listening) and productive grammar (speaking & writing). Usually receptive before productive AND more receptive than productive. That means, students don’t need productive knowledge/skill in order to understand. AND Students don’t need to be able to SAY the rule in order understand it, nor use it. NOTE: Remember that Snow talks about CLT and communication. Students need grammar rules to get high scores on national exams (ENEM, TOEFL)

7 Personal Example

8 Inductive teaching style (students TRY to figure out the rule first).
Teaching Grammar Most classes have a textbook with lots of grammar in it, so usually teachers don’t need to decide WHAT to teach, but only HOW to teach it. Snow’s Advice: 3 steps (from Penny Ur, 1988) Present the Grammar Structure (using example sentences). Explain it – Explain the rule. Practice it. Inductive teaching style (students TRY to figure out the rule first). Remember: Deductive teaching style (teacher explains the rule students follow).

9 Teaching Grammar p. 189 – Presentation
First, students need to notice the grammar. Ex. structure (order of the words), verb tense, classification of words (nouns, adjectives, etc.) Students can read or listen to some specific phrases about the structure. They need input. You can underline or bold to help students notice. With pictures is good for more comprehension. NOTE: NOTICING something is difficult. Do you notice when someone got haircut? However, if you are teaching older students, probably they have learned some grammar before and it’s easier to notice something the second time.

10 Teaching Grammar p. 190 – Explanation
Problem: students levels are different; lectures are boring; even if students know the rules, maybe they can’t use it. Benefits: knowing the rule, helps to use it better; students feel comfortable knowing rules and they expect it; it helps to call attention and notice it. Advice: (in general, only explain the big things) Explain only the rules at the level of students knowledge. Short and simple explanations. Some points are easier to memorize than to learn the rule (ex. Irregular past verbs – eat/ate, read/read) Examples are easier to understand and remember than explanations/rules. Use pictures, diagrams, graphs to show what the grammar means. Use local language (Portuguese) to explain the rules, but use English to practice them.

11 Teaching Grammar p. 191 – Practice, the most important part.
Highly controlled practice Good first step because students can focus on one grammar rule at a time. (ex. Fill the blank with past tense verbs). Bad because it’s not realistic. Grammar books and textbooks have a lot of these activities. Moderately controlled practice Students create their own sentences using their own ideas, but will a model and target grammar structure. (ex. Describe Turma de Monica using the verb ‘to have’ and ‘to be’ looking at the example of sentences about Mickey Mouse) Free Practice Students talk about their own topics using the correct grammar for it. Some natural situations are: daily routines uses present tense verbs, talk about food to practice countable and uncountable nouns (plurals, articles).

12 Personal Example

13 Evaluating Grammar 2 basic criteria:
Do students know the target structure? Can they use it (in normal way)? p. 193 – Evaluating Basic Grammar Knowledge Most popular: Discrete-point grammar tests Ex. Multiple choice, fill in the blank, correct the error, & rewriting. Creating a good test: Always have someone else read and double check it. Use a large number of items (=questions). Advantages: They are easy to grade. Forces students to study and know the specific grammar rule. Preparation for other tests like Vestibular, ENEN, TOEFL, etc. Disadvantages: BAD Backwash because it implies that grammar is very important for learning English.

14 Evaluating Grammar p. 193 – Evaluating the Ability to Apply Grammar Knowledge It means, evaluating grammar in context of using language. Ex. Go to the restaurant and order 5 things from the menu. Solve a problem of which shirt to buy at the department store. Advantages: You can evaluate if students know the correct grammar AND if they can use it. Good backwash because it shows how to USE grammar. Creating good ability tests (speaking or writing tests): Make some grammar criteria. (ex. Make 5 passive sentences.) Specific and controlled tasks. (ex. Compare two pictures, for testing comparatives and superlatives) Make an easy rubric (=grading criteria, example on p. 194) Writing is a good way to evaluate grammar because it gives students more time to write precisely and teachers more time to grade precisely.

15 Answering Grammar Questions
REMEMBER: from Ch 9 Sometimes one or two students really want to know a rule AND want you to explain RIGHT NOW  THINK! If explanation is long and difficult, don’t do it. (Se não vale a pena, não faça.) Often it’s hard to understand WHAT THE QUESTION IS.  Ask students to give an example/example sentence about their question. Make them explain more clearly. If you don’t know the answer, DON’T fake or invent it  Just tell students you will check and explain the next day. Probably they will forget, but IF you really do it, they will respect you. DON’T let students control you. YOU ARE NOT proving your skills to them. Correct errors selectively, depending on your lesson the skill of your students.

16 Personal Example

17 Practice Listening Activity OR Discussion Questions
Note to presenters: You have a choice to make discussion questions….. AND/OR You can demonstrate a listening activity in the class. YOU ARE THE TEACHER and the class will be your students. Don’t explain what you would do. You have to teach like a real class. NOTE: It should be a short and simple activity, do not prepare elaborate materials. It’s just a closing to your presentation.

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