Teaching English Grammar

  Rogova, G.V., “Methods of teaching English”; М.,1970 Harmer, Jeremy, “the practice English language teaching”; London-New York; Longman,1991 Синявская, Е.В. и др., «Вопросы

Teaching English Grammar

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h show the new language in operation, though this last category can sometimes have no context. These three sub-categories, story, situation or language, can be simulated or real. Most teachers are familiar with 'made-up' stones which arc often useful for classwork: real stories work well too, of course. In the same way we can create the simulation of an invitation dialogue, for example. But here again we could also show students a real invitation dialogue. In general we can say that real contexts are better simply because they are real, but they may have complexities of language and comprehensibility which can be avoided by simulated contexts - life-like but clearly mode-up to some extent.

Formulated information refers to all that information which is presented in the form of timetables, notes, charts etc. Once again we can use real charts and timetables, growth statistics, etc. or we can design our own which will be just right for our students.


1.1.3 The presentation of structural form


One of the teacher's jobs is to show how the new language is formed - how the grammar works and how it is put together. One way of doing this is to explain the grammar in detail, using grammatical terminology and giving a mini-lecture on the subject. This seems problematical, though, for two reasons; firstly many pupils may find grammatical concepts difficult, secondly- such explanations for beginners will be almost impossible.

A more effective - and less frightening - way of presenting form is to let the students see and/or hear the new language, drawing their attention in a number of different ways to the grammatical elements of which it is made. For whilst advanced students may profit from grammatical explanations to a certain extent, at lower levels we must usually find simpler and more transparent ways of giving students grammatical information.


1.1.4 A general model for introducing new language


The model has five components: lead-in, elicitation, explanation, accurate reproduction, and immediate creativity.

During the lead-in the context is introduced and the meaning or use of the new language is demonstrated. This is the stage at which students may hear or see some language (including the new language) and during which students may become aware of certain key concepts. The key concepts are those pieces of information about the context that are vital if students are to understand the context and thus the meaning and use of the new language.

During the lead-in stage, then, we introduce our context (making sure that key concepts are understood) and show the new language in use.

During the elicitation stage the teacher tries to see if the students can produce the new language. If they can it would clearly be wasteful and de-motivating for them if a lot of time was spent practicing the language that they already know. At the elicitation stage - depending on how well (and if) the students can produce the new language - the teacher can decide which of the stages to go to next. If the students can't produce the new language at all, for example, we will move to the explanation stage. If they can, hut with minor mistakes, we may move to the accurate reproduction stage to clear up those problems. If they know the new language but need a bit more controlled practice in producing it we may move directly to the immediate creativity stage Elicitation is vitally important for it gives the teacher information upon which to act: it is also motivating for the students and actively involves their learning abilities.

During the explanation stage the teacher shows how the new language is formed. It is here that we may give a listening drill or explain something in the students' own language; we may demonstrate grammatical form on the blackboard. In other words, this is where the students learn how the new language is constructed.

During the accurate reproduction stage students are asked to repeat and practise a certain number of models. The emphasis here will be on the accuracy of what the students say rather than meaning or use. Here the teacher makes sure that the students can form the new language correctly, getting the grammar right and perfecting their pronunciation as far as is necessary.


1.2 Teaching grammar patterns


Well examine "Teaching Grammatical Patterns" by Robert Lado (Chapter 10 "From Sentences to Patterns")

Robert Lado thinks that even children who have never studied the rules grammar make use of the grammar of the language. This is seen in the mistakes they make. When a child says, He goed, he is forming a "regular" preterite on the pattern: showed, weighed, served: "goed." His error reveals the fact that he has been applying the pattern even though he is not able to describe it.

  1. Patterns and Sentences

A grammatical pattern is an arrangement of parts having linguistic significance beyond the sum of its parts. The parts of a pattern are expressed by words or classes of words so that different sentences often express the same pattern. All the sentences of a language are cast in its patterns.

John telephoned, The boy studied.

We understood different sentences are expressing the same statement pattern in English.

A pattern is not a sentence, however. Sentences express patterns. Each sentence illustrates a pattern. To memorize a sentence does not imply that a pattern has been memorized. There can be countless sentences, each unique, yet all constructed on the same pattern.

  1. Patterns and Grammar

Children learn the grammatical patterns of their language before they study grammar in school. When a child says goed instead of went or knowed instead of knew, he is applying the regular preterite pattern on the analogy,

open: opened = go: goed

Patterns are learned in childhood. Adults no longer have to learn new patterns; they learn new words that are used in old patterns. That the old patterns are alive is shown by putting unknown words and phrases into them.

And what is the role of the native language in learning the patterns of a foreign language?

  1. Native Language Factor

The most important factor determining ease and difficulty in learning the patterns of a foreign language is their similarity to or difference from the patterns of the native language. When the pattern in the target language is parallel to one in the native language, the student merely learns new words which he puts into what amounts to an extended use of his native pattern. Since his word learning capacity is not lost, he makes rapid progress. When, however, the native language pattern does not parallel that of the target language, the student tends to revert to his native language patterns through habit.

  1. Grading the Patterns

There is no single grading scale for teaching the patterns of a foreign language. Any systematic cumulative progression, taking into account the structures that are difficult, would be satisfactory from a linguistic point of view.

  1. Pattern-practice

Approach The mimicry-memorization exercise tends to give the same amounts of practice to easy as well as difficult problems. It also concentrates unduly on the memorization of specific sentences, and not enough on the manipulation of the patterns of sentences in a variety of content situations. For those patterns that are functionally parallel to the native language, very little work needs to be done, and very little or no explanation is necessary. On the other hand, for those patterns that are not parallel in the two languages, more specific understanding of the grammatical structure points at issue is needed while the sentences are learned and not before or after. And more practice with the pattern is necessary before it is learned, that is, used without attention to its structure.

  1. Basic sentences

The memorization of sample sentences that contain the grammatical problems to he mastered is common to both pattern practice and mimicry-memorization. For this practice there is ample justification in linguistics and in psychology. The utterances have to become readily available if the student is to use them in the rapid sequence of conversation.

  1. Teaching the patterns

A sentence can be learned as a single unstructured unit like a word, but this is only the beginning. The student must acquire the habit of constructing sentences in the patterns of the target language. For this he must be able to put words almost automatically into a pattern without changing it, or to change it by making the necessary adjustments.

Teaching a problem pattern begins with teaching the specific structure points where a formal change in the pattern is crucial and where the student is not able to manipulate the required changes. The steps in teaching problem patterns are (1) attention pointer, usually a single sentence calling the students' attention to the point at issue; (2) examples, usually minimally contrastive examples showing a pair of sentences that differ only on the point or points being made; (3) repetition by the class and presentation of additional examples of the same contrast; (4) comments or generalization elicited inductively from the students and confirmed by the teacher; (5) practice, with attention on the problem being taught.

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