Teaching English Grammar
PART 1 WHAT IS THE GRAMMAR………………………………………4
The Importance of
Characteristic of Grammar Skills……………………4
The Content of
PART 2 MAJOR METHODS AND PRINCIPLES …………………...…….8
1.1 A Brief Review of the Major Methods of
Foreign Language Teaching.…8
1.1.1 The Grammar Translation method…………………………………..…8
1.1.2 The Direct Method……………………………………………………..9
1.1.3 The Audiolingual Method……………………………………….……10
1.1.4 Grammar explanations as used in the major
1.2 Some General Principles of Grammar
1.2.1 Conscious approach……………………………………………….…..11
1.2.2 Practical approach……………………………………………….…….12
1.2.3 Structural approach……………………………………………………12
1.2.4 Situational approach…………………………………………….….….13
1.2.5 Different approach…………………………………………………….13
PART 3 FURTHER POINTS FOR CONCIDERATION……...…………….14
1.1 Introduction of new Material……………………………………………..14
1.1.1 Introducing new language structure…………………………….……..14
1.1.2 Types of context.....................................................................................15
1.1.3 The presentation of structural form………………………………..…..15
1.1.4 A general model for introducing new
1.2 Teaching grammar patterns……………………………………………....16
1.4 The Most Common Difficulties in
Assimilating English Grammar……...20
PART 4 TYPES OF EXERCISES FOR THE
ASSIMILATION OF GRAMMAR…………………………………….…………………………….21
1.1 Recognition exercises……………………………………………………21
1.2 Drill exercises………………………………………………..…………..21
1.3 Creative exercises………………………………………………………..23
1.4 Grammar tests……………………………………………..……………..24
Language is the chief
means by which the human personality expresses itself and fulfills its basic
need for social interaction with other persons.
Robert Lado wrote that
language functions owing to the language skills. A person who knows a language
perfectly uses a thousand and one grammar lexical, phonetic rules when he is
speaking. Language skills help us to choose different words and models in our
It is clear that the term
“grammar” has meant various things at various times and sometimes several
things at one time. This plurality of meaning is characteristic of the present
time and is the source of confusions in the discussion of grammar as part of
the education of children. There have been taking place violent disputes on the
subject of teaching grammar at school.
The ability to talk about the
grammar of a language, to recite its rules, is also very different from ability
to speak and understand a language or to read and write it. Those who can use a
language are often unable to recite its rules, and those who can recite its
rules can be unable to use it.
Grammar organizes the
vocabulary and as a result we have sense units. There is a system of
stereotypes, which organizes words into sentences. But what skill does grammar
First of all it gives the
ability to make up sentences correctly, to reproduce the text adequately. (The
development of practical skills and habits)
The knowledge of the specific
grammar structure helps pupils point out the differences between the mother
tongue and the target language.
The knowledge of grammar
develops abilities to abstract systematize plural facts.
The name of my work is
“Teaching Grammar”. And the main aim is to clearly recognize how to teach
PART 1 WHAT IS THE GRAMMAR
1.1 The Importance of
Grammar in Learning a Foreign Language
To judge by the way some
people speak, there is no place for grammar in the language course nowadays;
yet it is, in reality, as important as it ever was exercise of correct grammar,
if he is to attain any skill of effective use of the language, but he need not
know consciously formulated rules to account to him for that he does
In order to understand a
language and to express oneself correctly one must assimilate the grammar
mechanism of the language studied. Indeed, one may know all the words in a
sentence and yet fail to understand it, if one does not see the relation
between the words in the given sentence. And vice versa, a sentence may contain
one, two, and more unknown words but if one has a good knowledge of the
structure of the language one can easily guess the meaning of these words or at
least find them in a dictionary.
No speaking is possible
without the knowledge of grammar, without the forming of a grammar mechanism.
If learner has acquired such
a mechanism, he can produce correct sentences in a foreign language. Paul
Roberts writes: “Grammar is something that produces the sentences of a
language. By something we mean a speaker of English. If you speak English
natively, you have built into you rules of English grammar. In a sense, you are
an English grammar. You possess, as an essential part of your being, a very
complicated apparatus which enables you to produce infinitely many sentences,
all English ones, including many that you have never specifically learned.
Furthermore by applying you rule you can easily tell whether a sentence that
you hear a grammatical English sentence or not.”
A command of English as is
envisaged by the school syllabus cannot be ensured without the study of
grammar. Pupils need grammar to be able to aud, speak, read, and write in the
1.2 The Psychological
characteristics of grammar skills
To develop one’s speech means
to acquire essential patterns of speech and grammar patterns in particular.
Children must use these items automatically during speech-practice. The
automatic use of grammar items in our speech (oral and written) supposes
mastering some particular skills – the skills of using grammar items to express
one’s own thoughts, in other words to make up your sentences.
We must get so-called
reproductive or active grammar skills.
A skill is treated as an
automatic part of awareness. Automatization of the action is the main feature
of a skill.
The nature of Automatization
is characterized by that psychological structure of the action which adopts to
the conditions of performing the action owing frequent experience. The action
becomes more frequent, correct and accurate and the number of the operations is
shortened while forming the skill the character of awareness of the action is
changing, i.e. fullness of understanding is paid to the conditions and quality
of performing to the control over it and regulation.
To form some skills is
necessary to know that the process of the forming skills has some steps:
Only some definite
elements of the action are automatic.
occurs under more difficult conditions, when the child can’t concentrate his
attention on one element of the action.
The whole structure
of the action is improved and the automatization of its separate components is
What features do the
productive grammar skills have?
During our speech the
reproductive grammar skills are formed together with lexis and intonation, they
must express the speaker’s intentions.
The actions in the structural
setting of the lexis must be learnt.
The characteristic feature of
the reproductive grammar skills is their flexibility. It doesn’t depend on the
level of Automatization, i.e. on perfection of skill here mean the original
action: both the structure of sentence, and forms of the words are reproduced
by the speaker using different lexical material. If the child reproduces
sentences and different words, which have been learnt by him as “a ready-made
thing” he can say that there is no grammar skill. Learning the ready-made forms,
word combinations and sentences occurs in the same way as learning lexis.
The grammar skill is based on
the general conclusion. The grammar action can and must occur only in the
definite lexical limits, on the definite lexical material. If the pupil can
make up his sentence frequently, accurately and correctly from the grammatical point
of view, he has got the grammar skill.
Teaching grammar at school
using the theoretical knowledge brought some critical and led to confusion. All
the grammatical rules were considered to be evil and there were some steps to
avoid using them at school.
But when we learn grammatical
items in models we use substitution and such a type of training gets rid of
grammar or “neutralizes” it. By the way, teaching the skills to make up
sentences by analogy is a step on the way of forming grammar skills. It isn’t the
lexical approach to grammar and it isn’t neutralization of grammar, but using
basic sentences in order to use exercises by analogy and to reduce number of
grammar rules when forming the reproductive grammar skills.
To form the reproductive
grammar skills we must follow such steps:
Selection the model
Selection the form of
the word and formation of wordforms.
The main difficulty of the
reproductive (active) grammar skills is to correspond the purposes of the
statement, communicative approach (a questionèan answer
and so on), words, meanings, expressed by the grammatical patterns. In that
case we use basic sentences, in order to answer the definite situation. The
main factor of the forming of the reproductive grammar skill is that pupils
need to learn the lexis of the language. They need to learn the meanings of the
words and how they are used. We must be sure that our pupils are aware of the
vocabulary they need at their level and they can use the words in order to form
their own sentence. Each sentence contains a grammar structure. The mastering
the grammar skill lets pupils save time and strength, energy, which can give
opportunity to create. Learning a number of sentences containing the same
grammatical structure and a lot of words containing the same grammatical form
isn’t rational. But the generalization of the grammar item can relieve the work
of the mental activity and let the teacher speed up the work and the children
realize creative activities.
The process of creation is
connected with the mastering of some speech stereotypes the grammatical
substrat is hidden in basic sentences. Grammar is presented as itself. Such a
presentation of grammar has its advantage: the grammar patterns of the basic
sentences are connected with each other. But this approach gives pupils the
opportunity to realize the grammar item better. The teaching must be based on grammar
explanations and grammar rules. Grammar rules are to be understood as a special
way of expressing communicative activity. The reproductive grammar skills
suppose to master the grammar actions which are necessary for expressing
thoughts in oral and written forms.
The automatic perception of
the text supposes the reader to identify the grammar form according to the
formal features of words, word combinations, sentences which must be combined
with the definite meaning. One must learn the rules in order to identify
different grammatical forms. Pupils should get to know their features, the ways
of expressing them in the language. We teach children to read and aud by means
of grammar. It reveals the relation between words in the sentence. Grammar is
of great important when one teaches reading and auding.
The forming of the perceptive
grammar and reproductive skills is quite different. The steps of the work is
mastering the reproductive skills differ from the steps in mastering the
perceptive skills. To master the reproductive grammar skills one should study
the basic sentences or models. To master the perceptive grammar skills one
should identify and analyze the grammar item. Though training is of great
importance to realize the grammar item.
1.3 The Content of
Before speaking about the
selection of grammar material it is necessary to consider the concept
“grammar”, i.e., what it meant by “grammar”.
By grammar one can mean
adequate comprehension and correct usage of words in the act of communication,
that is, intuitive knowledge of the grammar of the language. It is a set of
reflexes enabling a person to communicate with his associates. Such knowledge
is acquired by a child in the mother tongue before he goes to schools.
This “grammar” functions
without the individual’s awareness of technical nomenclature; in other words,
he has no idea of the system of the language, and to use all the word-endings
for singular and plural, for tense, and all the other grammar rules without
special grammar lessons only due to the abundance of auding and speaking. His
young mind grasps the facts and “makes simple grammar rules” for arranging the
words to express carious thoughts and feelings. This is true because sometimes
little children make mistakes by using a common rule for words to which that
rule cannot be applied. For example, a little English child might be heard to
say Two mans comed instead of Two men come, because the child is
using the plural “s” rule for man to which the rule does
not apply, and the past tense ed rule for come which does not
obey the ordinary rule for the past tense formation. A little Russian child can
say ножов instead of ножей using the case-ending “ов” for
ножи to which it does not apply. Such
mistakes are corrected as the child grows older and learns more of his
By “grammar” we also mean the
system of the language, the discovery and description of the nature of language
itself. It is not a natural grammar, but a constructed one. There are several constructed
grammars: traditional, structural, and transformational grammars.
Traditional grammar studies the forms of words (morphology) and how they are
put together in sentences (syntax); structural grammar studies structures of
various levels of the language (morpheme level) and syntactic level;
transformational grammar studies basic structures and transformation rules.
What we need is simplest and
shortest grammar that meets the requirements of the school syllabus in foreign
languages. This grammar must be simple enough to be grasped and held by any
pupil. We cannot say that this problem has been solved.
Since graduates are expected
to acquire language proficiency in aural comprehension, speaking and reading
grammar material should be selected for the purpose. There exist principles of
selecting grammar material both for teaching speaking knowledge (active
minimum) and for teaching reading knowledge (passive minimum), the main one is
the principle of frequency, i.e., how frequently this or that grammar item
occurs. For example, the Present Simple (Indefinite) is frequently used both in
conversation and in various texts. Therefore it should be included in the
For selecting grammar
material for reading the principle of polysemia, for instance, is of great
Pupils should be taught to
distinguish such grammar items which serve to express different meanings.
Plurals of nouns
The 3d person
singular of Present Simple (Indefinite)
For example, -s
The selection of grammar
material involves choosing the appropriate kind of linguistic description,
i.e., the grammar which constitutes the best base for developing speech habits.
Thus the school syllabus reflect a traditional approach to determining grammar
material for foreign language teaching, pupils are given sentences patterns or
structures, and through these structures they assimilate the English language,
acquire grammar mechanisms of speech
The content of grammar
teaching is disputable among teachers and methodologists, and there are various
approaches to the problem, pupils should, whatever the content of the course,
assimilate the ways of fitting words together to form sentences and be able to
easily recognize grammar forms and structures while hearing and reading, to
reproduce phrases and sentences stored up in their memory and say or write
sentences of their own, using grammar items appropriate to the situation.
PART 2 MAJOR METHODS AND PRINCIPLES
1.1A Brief Review of the
Major Methods of Foreign Language Teaching
The grammatical systems of
Russian and English are fundamentally different. English is an analytical
language, in which grammatical meaning in largely expressed through the use of
additional words and by changes in word order. Russian is a synthetic language,
in which the majority of grammatical forms are created through changes in the
structure of words, by means of a developed system of prefixes, suffixes and
ending. (p. 121, Brown C. and Jule “Teaching the spoken language”, Cambridge,
No one knows exactly how
people learn languages although a great deal of research has been done into the
Many methods have been
proposed for the teaching of foreign language. And they have met with varying
degrees of success and failure.
We should know that the
method by which children are taught must have some effect on their motivation.
If they find it deadly boring they will probably become de-motivated, whereas
if they have confidence in the method they will find it motivating. Child
learners differ from adult learners in many ways. Children are curious, their
attention is of a shorter duration, they are quite differently motivated in, and
their interests are less specialized. They need frequent of activity; they need
activities which are exciting and stimulating their curiosity; they need to be
involved in something active.
We shall examine such methods
as “The Grammar – Translation Method”, ”The Direct Method”, “The Audio-lingual
Method”. And we pay attention to the teaching grammar of the foreign language.
We shall comment those methods, which have had a long history.
1.1.1 The Grammar
Translation method will be discussed
This method was widely used
in teaching the classics, namely Latin, and it was transferred to the teaching
of modern languages when they were introduced into schools.
In the grammar-translation mode, the
books begin with definitions of the parts of speech, declensions, conjugations,
rules to be memorized, examples illustrating the rules, and exceptions. Often
each unit has a paragraph to be translated into the target language and one to
be translated into native one. These paragraphs illustrate the grammar rules
studied in the unit. The student is expected to apply the rules on his own.
This involves a complicated mental manipulation of the conjugations and
declensions in the order memorized, down to the form that might fit the
translation. As a result, students are unable to use the language, and they
sometimes develop an inferiority complex about languages in general.
Exceptionally bright and diligent students do learn languages by this method,
or in spite of it, but they would learn with any method. (R. Lado)
We list the major
characteristics of Grammar Translation.
- Classes are taught in the mother
tongue, with little active use of the target language.
- Much vocabulary is taught in the form
of lists of isolated words.
- Long elaborate explanations of the
intricacies of grammar are given.
- Grammar provides the rules for
putting words together, and instruction often focuses on the form and
inflection of word.
- Reading of difficult classical texts
is begun early.
- Little attention is paid to the
content of texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical analysis.
- Often the only drills are exercises
in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother
- Little or no attention is given to
(Brown H., Douglas ‘Principles of
language teaching’, N.Y., 1987)
method is largely discredited today. With greater interest in modern languages
for communication the inadequacy of grammar-translation methods became evident.
1.1.2 The Direct Method
The Direct Method appeared as
a reaction against the grammar-translation method.
There was a movement in
Europe that emphasized language learning by direct contact with the foreign
language in meaningful situations. This movement resulted in various individual
methods with various names, such as new method, natural method, and even oral
method, but they can all be referred to as direct methods or the direct method.
In addition to emphasizing direct contact with the foreign language, the direct
method usually deemphasized or eliminated translation and the memorization of
conjugations, declensions, and rules, and in some cases it introduced phonetics
and phonetic transcription.
The direct method assumed
that learning a foreign language is the same as learning the mother tongue,
that is, that exposing the student directly to the foreign language impresses
it perfectly upon his mind. This is true only up to a point, since the
psychology of learning a second language differs from that of learning the
first. The child is forced to learn the first language because he has no other
effective way to express his wants. In learning a second language this
compulsion is largely missing, since the student knows that he can communicate
through his native language when necessary.
The basic premise of Direct Method
was that second language learning should be more like first language learning:
lots of active oral interaction, spontaneous use of the language, no
translation between first and second languages, and little or no analysis of
grammatical rules. We can summarize the principles of the Direct
instruction was conducted exclusively in the target language.
vocabulary and sentences were taught.
communication skills were built up in a carefully graded progression organized
around question-and-answer exchanges between teachers and student in small,
taught inductively, i.e. the learner may discover the rules of grammar for
himself after he has become acquainted with many examples.
points were introduced orally.
vocabulary was taught through demonstration, objects, and pictures; abstract
vocabulary was taught by association of ideas.
Both speech and
listening comprehension were taught.
pronunciation and grammar were emphasized.
1.1.3 The Audiolingual
The Audiolingual Method (It
is also called Mimicry-memorization method) was the method developed in the
Intensive Language Program. It was successful because of high motivation,
intensive practice, small classes, and good models, in addition to
linguistically sophisticated descriptions of the foreign language and its
Grammar is taught essentially
as follows: Some basic sentences are memorized by imitation. Their meaning is
given in normal expressions in the native language, and the students are not
expected to translate word for word. When the basic sentences have been
overlearned (completely memorized so that the student can rattle them off
without effort), the student reads fairly extensive descriptive grammar
statements in his native language, with examples in the target language and
native language equivalents. He then listens to further conversational
sentences for practice in listening. Finally, practices the dialogues using the
basic sentences and combinations of their parts. When he can, he varies the
dialogues within the material hr has already learned. The characteristics of
ALM may be summed up in the following list:
- New material is presented in dialog
- There is dependence on mimicry,
memorization of set phrases and overlearning.
- Structures are sequenced by means of
contrastive analysis and taught one at a time.
- Structural patterns are taught using
- There is a little or no grammatical
explanation: grammar is taught by inductive analogy rather than deductive explanation.
- Vocabulary is strictly limited and
learned in context.
- There is much use of tapes, language
labs, and visual aids.
- Great importance is attached to
- very little use of the mother tongue
by teachers is permitted.
- Successful responses are immediately
- There is a great effort to get
students to produce error-free utterances.
- There is a tendency to manipulate
language and disregard content.
1.1.4 Grammar explanations
as used in the major methods
We shall briefly review the
treatment of grammatical explanations by some of the major methods. This is not
meant to be an exhaustive study of all available methods; rather it is an
attempt to show the variety of ways in which different methods deal with
grammar explanations and may help teachers in evaluating available materials.
The direct method is characterized by meaningful practice
and exclusion of the mother tongue. This method has had many interpretations,
some of which include an analysis of structure, but generally without the use
of abstract grammatical terminology.
The audio-lingual method stresses an inductive presentation with
extensive pattern practice. Writing is discouraged in the early stages of
learning a structure. Here again, there has bee considerable variation in the
realization of this approach. In some cases, no grammatical explanation of any
kind is offered. In other, the teacher might focus on a particular structure by
isolating an example on the board, or through contrast. When grammatical
explanation is offered it is usually done at the end of the lesson as a summary
of behavior (Politzer, 1965), or in later versions of this method the rule
might be stated in the middle of the lesson and followed by additional drills.
Each method is realized in
techniques. By a technique we mean an individual way in doing something, in
gaining a certain goal in teaching learning process. The method and techniques
the teacher should use in teaching children of the primary school is the direct
method, and various techniques which can develop pupils` listening
comprehension and speaking. Pupils are given various exercises, connected with
the situational use of words and sentence patterns.
1.2 Some General
Principles of Grammar Teaching
1.2.1 Conscious approach
This means that in sentence
patterns teaching points are determined so that pupils can concentrate their
attention on some elements of the pattern to be able to use them as orienting
points when speaking or writing the target language. For example, I can see a
book. I can see many books.
The teacher draws pupils’
attention to the new element in the form of a rule, a very short one. It is usually done in the mother tongue. For example: Помни, что во множественном числе к
существительному прибавляется окончание –s [s,z] или –es [IZ].
Or: Помни, что в отрицательных предложениях ставится
вспомогательный глагол “do not” (“does not”).The rule helps the learner to
understand and to assimilate the structural meaning of the elements. It ensures
a conscious approach to learning. This approach provides favourable conditions
for the speedy development of correct and more flexible language use. However
it does not mean that the teacher should ask pupils to say this or that rule,
Rules do not ensure the mastery of the language. They only help to attain the
practical goal. If a pupil can recognize and employ correctly the forms that
are appropriate, that is sufficient. When the learner can give ample proof of
these abilities we may say that he has fulfilled the syllabus requirements.
Conscious learning is also
ensured when a grammar item is contrasted with another grammar item which is
usually confused. The contrast is brought out through oppositions. For example:
I get up at 7
It’s 7 o’clock. I am getting
He has come.
He came an hour ago.
article is contrasted with the definite article.
Give me a book (to read into
Give me the book (you have
The zero article
is contrasted with the definite article.
I like soup (more
than any other food).
I like the soup ( you have
Rule for the teacher:
The teacher should realize
difficulties the sentence pattern presents for his pupils. Comparative analysis
of the grammar item in English and in Russian or within the English language
may be helpful. He should think of the shortest and simplest way for presentation
of the new grammar item. The teacher should remember the more he speaks about
the language the less time is left to practice. The more the teacher explains
the less his pupils understand what he is trying to explain, this leads to the
teacher giving more information than is necessary, which does not help the
pupils in the usage of this particular grammar item, only hinders them.
1.2.2 Practical approach
It means that pupils learn
those grammar items which they need for immediate use either in oral or written
language. For example, from the first steps of language learning pupils need
the Possessive Case for objects which belong to different people, namely,
Mike’s textbook, Ann’s mother, the girl’s doll, the boys’ room, etc. The
teacher masters grammar through performing various exercises in using a given
1.2.3 Structural approach
Grammar items are introduced and drilled
in structures or sentence patterns.
It has been proved and
accepted by the majority of teachers and methodologists that whenever the aim
to teach pupils the command of the language, and speaking in particular, the
structural approach meets the requirements.
Pupils are taught to
understand English when spoken to and to speak it from the very beginning. This
is possible provided they have learned sentence patterns and words as a pattern
and they know how to adjust them to them to the situations they are given.
In our country the structural
approach to the teaching of grammar attracted the attention of many teachers.
As a result structural approach to grammar teaching has been adopted by our
schools since it allows the pupil to make up sentences by analogy, to use the
same pattern for various situations. Pupils learn sentence patterns and how to
use them in oral and written language.
Rule for the teacher:
The teacher should furnish
pupils with words to change the lexical (semantic) meaning of the sentence
pattern so that pupils will be able to use it in different situations. He
should assimilate the grammar mechanism involved in sentence pattern and not
the sentence itself.
1.2.4 Situational approach
Pupils learn a grammar item
used in situations. For example, the Possessive Case may be effectively
introduced in classroom situations. The teacher takes or simply touches various
things and says This is Nina’s pen; That is Sasha’s exercise-book, and so on.
Rule for the teacher:
The teacher should select the
situations for the particular grammar item he is going to present. He should
look through the textbook and other teaching materials and find those
situations which can ensure comprehension and the usage of the item.
1.2.5 Different approach
Grammar items pupils need for
conversation are taught by the oral approach, i.e., pupils aud them, perform
various oral exercises, finally see them printed, and write sentences using
For example, pupils need the
Present Progressive for conversation. They listen to sentences with the verbs
in the Present Progressive spoken by the teacher or the speaker (when a tape
recorder is used) and relate them to the situations suggested. Then pupils use
the verbs in the Present Progressive in various oral sentences in which the
Present Progressive is used. Grammar items necessary for reading are taught
Rule for the teachers:
If the grammar item the
teacher is going to present belongs to those pupils need for conversation, he
should select the oral approach method for teaching.
If pupils need the grammar
item for reading, the teacher should start with reading and writing sentences
in which the grammar item occurs.
While preparing for the
lesson at which a new grammar item should be introduced, the teacher must
realize the difficulties pupils will meet in assimilating this new element of
the English grammar. They may be of three kinds: difficulties in form, meaning,
and usage. The teacher thinks of the ways to overcome these difficulties: how
to convey the meaning of the grammar item either through situations or with the
help of the mother tongue; what rule should be used; what exercises should be
done; their types and number. Then he thinks of the sequence in which pupils
should work to overcome these difficulties, i.e., , from observation and
comprehension through conscious imitation to usage in conversation
(communicative exercises). Then the teacher considers the form in which he
presents the grammar item – orally, in writing, or in reading. And, finally,
the teacher plans pupils’ activity while they are learning this grammar item
(point): their individual work, mass work, work in unison, and work in pairs,
always bearing in mind that for assimilation pupils need examples of the
sentence pattern in which this grammar item occurs.
PART 3 FURTHER POINTS FOR
1.1 Introduction of new
1.1.1 Introducing new
We will consider ways in
which children can be introduced to new language structure.
present grammar through structural patterns we tend to give students tidy
pieces of language to work with We introduce grammar, which can easily be
explained and presented. There are many different ways of doing this, which do
not (only) involve the transmission of grammar rules.
certainly possible to teach aspects of grammar - indeed that is what language
teachers have been doing for centuries - but language is a difficult business
and it is often used very inventively by its speakers, In other words real
language use is often very untidy and cannot be automatically reduced to simple
grammar patterns. Students need to be aware of this, just as they need to be aware of all
language possibilities. Such awareness does not mean that they have to be
taught each variation and linguistic twist, however. It just means that they
have to be aware of language and how it is used. That is why reading and
listening are so important, and that is why discovery activities are so
valuable since by asking students to discover ways in which language is used we
help to raise their awareness about the creative use of grammar - amongst other
teachers we should be prepared to use a variety of techniques to help our
students learn and acquire grammar. Sometimes this involves teaching grammar
rules; sometimes it means allowing students to discover the rules for
What do we introduce? Our job at this stage of the lesson
is to present the pupils with clear information about the language they are
must also show them what the language means and how it is used; we must also
show them what the grammatical form of the new language is, and how it is said
What we are suggesting
here is that students need to get an idea of how his new language is used by
native speakers and the best way of doing this is to present language in context.
The context for
introducing new language should have a number of characteristics.It should show
what the new language means and how it is used, for example. That is why many
useful contexts have the new language being used in a written text or
A good context should be
interesting for the children. This doesn't mean that all the subject matter we
use for presentation should be wildly funny or inventive all of the time. But
the pupils should at least want to see or hear the information.
Lastly, a good context
will provide the background for a lot of language use so that students can use
the information not only for the repetition of model sentences but also for
making their own sentences.
Often the textbook will
have all the characteristics mentioned here and the teacher can confidently
rely on the material for the presentation. But the textbook is not always so
appropriate: for a number of reasons the information in the book may not be
right for our students in such cases we will want to create our own contexts
for language use.
1.1.2 Types of context
Context means the situation or body of
information, which causes language to be used. There are a number of different
context types, but for our purposes we will concentrate on three, the
students' world, the outside world and formulated information.
The students' world can
be a major source of contexts for language presentation. There are two kinds of
students' world. Clearly we can use the physical surroundings that the
students are in - the classroom, school or institution. But classrooms and
their physical properties (tables, chairs, windows, etc.) are limited. The students'
lives are not constrained in the same way, however, and we can use facts
about them, their families, friends and experiences.
The outside world
provides us with rich contexts for presentation For example, there is an almost
infinite number of stories we can use to present different lenses. We
can also create situations where people speak because they are in those situations,
or where the writer describes some special information. This is especially
useful for the practice of functional language, for example.
We can ask students to
look at examples of language which 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.
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
"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.
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
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.
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:
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
These steps an intended
to clarify the crucial point of contrast at the time when sentences are being
learned. They should take only a small portion of the class time—no more than
15 per cent.
Robert Lado accents that
many teachers make the mistake of trying to explain everything at length while
the class listens passively. Long explanations without active practice are a
waste of time, and even with practice they are inefficient. Most of the class
should be devoted to practice.
During the accurate
reproduction phase there are two basic correction stages: showing incorrectness
(indicating to the student that something is wrong) and using correction
This means that we will
indicate to the student that a mistake has been made. If the student
understands this feedback he or she will be able to correct the mistake and
this self-correction will be helpful to him or her as part of the learning
There are a number of
techniques for showing incorrectness:
Repeating: Here we simply ask the student to
repeat what he or she has just said by using the word 'again'. This, said with
a questioning intonation, will usually indicate that the response was
unsatisfactory (although it could be misunderstood as only indicating that the
teacher has not heard the student's response).
Echoing: We will be even clearer if we repeat
what the student has just said, using a questioning intonation since this will
clearly indicate that we are doubting the accuracy or content of what is being
Sometimes we can echo the complete student response,
probably stressing the pan of the utterance that was incorrect, for
Another possibility is to echo the
student's response, but only up to the point where the mistake was made,ftor
example: She go …?
Echoing, in its various forms, is probably the most efficient
way of showing incorrectness.
Denial: We can simply tell the student that
the response was unsatisfactory and ask for it to be repeated. This seems
somewhat drier than the techniques so far discussed; it may be a bit more
Questioning: We can say 'Is that correct?' asking
any student in the class to answer our question. This has the advantage of
focusing everybody's mind on the problem, though it may make the student who
made the mistake seem somewhat exposed.
Expression: Many teachers indicate that a
response was incorrect by their expression or by some gesture. This is very
economical (and can be quite funny) but can be dangerous if the student thinks
that the expression or gesture is a form of mockery.
In general, showing
incorrectness should be handled with tact and consideration. The process of
student self-correction, which it provokes, is an important and useful part of
the learning process. Showing incorrectness should be seen as a positive act,
in other words, not as a reprimand.
Frequently, however, we
find that showing incorrectness is not enough for the correction of a mistake
or an error and the teacher may therefore have to use some correction
If students are unable to
correct themselves we can resort to one of the following techniques.
§ Student corrects student: we can ask if anyone else can give
the correct response. We can ask if anyone can 'help' the student who has made
the mistake. If another student can supply the correct information it will be
good for that student's self-esteem. However, the student who originally made
the mistake may feel humiliated if this technique is used insensitively.
§ Teacher corrects student(s): Sometimes we may feel that we should
take charge of correction because the students are extremely mixed-up about
what the correct response should be. In that case we can re-explain the item of
language, which is causing the trouble. This will be especially appropriate
when we see that a majority of the class are having the same problem. After the
re-explanation we can move to choral and individual repetition (if necessary)
before moving on.
object of using correction techniques, of course, is to give the student(s) a
chance to (know how to) get the new language right. It is important, therefore,
that when we have used one of the techniques suggested above, we ask the
student who originally made the mistake to give us a correct response.
When the children
and teacher are confident that the children can form the new language correctly
they will move to immediate creativity. Here they try to
use what they have just learned to make sentences of their own, rather
than sentences which the teacher or book has introduced as models.
It is at this stage that
both teacher and student can see if the students have really understood the
meaning, use and form of the new language. If they are able to produce their
own sentences they can feel confident that the presentation was success.
Notice again that if the
students perform well during elicitation the teacher can move straight to
immediate creativity. If at that stage they perform badly the teacher may find
it necessary either to return to a short accurate reproduction stage or in
extreme cases, to re-explain the new language.
1.4 The Most Common
Difficulties Pupils Howe in Assimilating English Grammar
The chief difficulty in
learning a new language is that of changing from the grammatical mechanism of
the native language to that of the new language. Indeed, every language has its
own way of fitting words together to form sentences. In English, word order is
more important than in Russian. The word order in Tom gave Helen a rose
indicates what was given (a rose), to whom (Helen), and by whom (Tom). If we
change the word order and say Helen gave tom a rose, we shall change the
meaning of the sentence. In Russian, due to inflexions, which are very
important in this language, we can say Том дал Лене розу or Лене дал Том розу without changing the meaning of the sentence, as the
inflexion “e” in the word Лене indicates the object of the action.
The inversion of subject and
finite verb in Are you… indicates the question form. In speaking
English, Russian pupils often violate the word order which results in bad
mistakes in expressing their thoughts.
The English tense system also
presents a lot of trouble to Russian-speaking pupils because of the difference
which exists in these languages with regard to time and tense relations. For
example, the pupil cannot at first understand why we must say I have seen
him today and I saw him yesterday. For him the action is completed
in both sentences, and he does not associate it in any way with today or
The sequence of tenses is
another difficult point of English grammar for Russian speaking pupils because
there is no such phenomenon in their mother tongue. Why should we say She
said she was busy when she is busy?
The use of modal verbs in
various types of sentences is very difficult for the learner. For example, he
should differentiate the use of can and may while in Russian the
verb may covers them both. Then he should remember which verb must be
used in answers to the questions with modal verbs. For instance, May I go
home? No, you mustn’t. May I take your pen? Yes, you may. Must I do it? No, you
The most difficult point of
English grammar is the article because it is completely strange to
Russian-speaking pupils. The use of the articles and other determiners comes
first in the list of the most frequent errors. Pupils are careless in the use
of “these tiny words” and consider them unimportant for expressing their
thoughts when speaking English.
English grammar must begin,
therefore, with pupils’ learning the meaning of these structural words, and
with practice in their correct use. For example: This is a pen. The pen is
red. This is my pen and that is his pen.
PART 4 TYPES OF
EXERCISES FOR THE ASSIMILATION OF GRAMMAR
1.1 Recognition exercises
These exercises are the
easiest type of exercises for pupils to perform. They observe the grammar item
in structures (sentence patterns) when hearing or reading. Since pupils only
observe the new grammar item the situations should be natural and
communicative. For example:
Listen to the
sentences and raise your hands whenever you hear the verbs in the Past Simple.
Mike lives in Pushkin Street.
I lived there last year. Ann gets up at 7 o’clock in the morning. She got up at
half past seven yesterday. Etc.
It is desirable that
sentences formed should concern real situations and facts.
Read the sentences
and choose the correct form of the verb. The following sentences may be
I (go, went) to school
Tom (takes, took) a bus when
he goes to school.
She (got, gets, gets) up at 7
o’ clock every day.
Pupils should read the
sentences and find the signals for the correct choice of the form. Since the
necessary form is suggested in each sentence they should only recognize the one
they need for a given context.
Recognition exercises are
indispensable as pupils retain the grammar material through auditory and visual
perception. Auditory and visual memory is at work.
1.2 Drill exercises
They are more completed as
they require reproduction on the part of the pupils. In learning a foreign
language drill exercises are indispensable. The learners cannot assimilate the
material if they only hear and see it. They must reproduce it both in outer and
inner speech. The more often they say it the better they assimilate the
material. Though drill exercises are those in which pupils have only one
difficulty to overcome, they should also be graded:
- Repetitive drill. Pupils pronounce the
sentence pattern after the teacher, in imitation of the teacher, both
individually and in unison. For example:
Teacher: They are dancing in
Class: They are dancing in
Individuals: They are dancing
in the park.
Or pupils listen to the
dialogue and say it after the speaker.
-Is Ann dancing now?
-No, she isn’t.
-What is she doing?
-She is watching television.
Attention is drawn to the
correct pronunciation of the sentence pattern as a sense unit, as a statement (sounds,
stress, and melody).
- Substitution. Pupils substitute the words
or phrases in a sentence pattern. For example:
The children are dancing in
The children are dancing in
The children are dancing in
The children are dancing in
The children are dancing in
The children are dancing after
The children are dancing at
A pupil substitutes a
phrase, the rest may say it in unison. Then they are invited to replace the
word dancing with other words.
They are singing in the
They are working in the
They are walking in the
They are playing in the
They are running in the
They are talking in the
They are watering flowers
in the park.
They are planting trees
in the park.
They are helping the
workers in the park.
The use of a particular
verb is stimulated with pictures (or a Russian word). Quick revision is
achieved with a small expenditure of effort. In this way they review many words
and phrases. As pupils have only one difficulty to overcome the work does not take
much time. Or pupils are invited to replace the words in the dialogue with
those given in columns (see the dialogue above).
There is one more
advantage in performing this type of exercises—pupils consolidate the grammar
item without thinking about it. They think of the words, phrases, but not of
the form itself, therefore, involuntary memory is at work.
Pupils complete the
sentences the teacher utters looking at the pictures he shows. For example:
Teacher: Look at the
Mike is ... ... .
Pupil: Mike is
Class: Mike is
Teacher: Mike is ... ...
Pupil: Mike is
Class: Mike is
Attention should be given
to the use of is in this exercise. The teacher should pronounce Mike
is ... to prevent the typical mistake of the pupils (Mike dressing).
This is essential structural element of the tense form of the Present
Continuous; Russian-speaking pupils, however, do not feel any necessity to use
Teacher: Is Mike getting
Pupil: Yes, he is.
Teacher: Who is getting
Pupil: Mike is.
Teacher: What is Mike
Pupil: He is
Drill exercises may be
done both orally and in written form. Pupils perform oral exercises during the
lesson and written ones at home. For example, they ate told to write five or
seven sentences on the model given.
During the next lesson the
work done at home is checked orally. In this way pupils have practice in
pronunciation while reading their own examples, and in auding while listening
to their classmates.
1.3 Creative exercises (speech exercises)
This is the most
difficult type of exercises as it requires creative work on the part of the
learners. These may be:
- Making statements either on the
picture the teacher shows, or on objects. For example, the teacher hangs up a
picture and asks his pupils to say or write three or five statements in the
- Asking questions with a given grammar
item. For example, pupils are invited to ask and answer questions in the Past
- Speaking about the situation offered
by the teacher. For example, one pupil gives commands to perform this or that
action, the other comments on the action (actions) his classmate performs.
Pupil 1: Go to the door,
Pupil 2: Sasha is going
to the door.
Pupil 3: Open the door.
Pupil 4: Sasha is opening
- Speaking on a suggested topic. For
example, a pupil tells the class what he did yesterday.
- Making dialogues using the grammar item covered.
- Telling the story (read, heard).
Participating in free conversation in
which pupils are to use the grammar item they have learned. E. g., pupils have
learned sentence patterns with the impersonal it.
Through these questions
pupils are stimulated to speak about the weather and use the grammar item they
All the exercises of the
creative type are designed for consolidating grammar material pupils need for
hearing and speaking.
All the exercises mentioned above are designed:
- to develop pupils' skills in recognizing grammar forms while
auding and reading English texts;
- to accumulate correct sentence patterns in the pupils'
memory which they can reproduce whenever they need these patterns for speaking
- to help the pupils to produce sentences of their own using
grammar items necessary for speaking about a situation or a topic offered, or
writing an essay on the text heard or an annotation on the text read.
1.4 Grammar tests
A check on the assimilation of grammar material is carried
auding (if a pupil understands what he auds, he knows
speaking (if a pupil uses the grammar item correctly, he has
reading (if a learner understands what he reads, he knows
Tests allow the teacher
to evaluate pupils' achievement in grammar, that is, how each of them has
mastered forms, meaning, and usage. Tests in grammar may involve: filling in
the blanks; opening the brackets; transformation (e. g., make it negative,
change into plural, etc.); extension (e. g., / like to read books — I like
to raid English bocks in our library); completion (e. g., When I came
home ...); making statements on the pictures given; translation.
In order to understand a
language and express oneself correctly one must assimilate the grammar
mechanism of a language. Indeed, one may know all the words in a sentence and
yet fail to understand it, if one does not see the relationship between the
words in the given sentence. And vice versa, a sentence may contain one, two,
and more unknown words but if one has a good knowledge of the structure of the
language one can easily guess the meanings of these words or at least find them
in a dictionary, No speaking is possible without the knowledge of grammar,
without the forming of a grammar mechanism. Children need grammar to be able to
speak, and write in the target language.
Our aim is to form
grammar skills and prevent children from making grammar mistakes in their
speech. The aim of foreign languages in primary schools is to develop pupils’
skills in order to understand speech and participate in conversation.
The method and techniques
the teacher should use in teaching children of primary school is the direct
method and various techniques which can develop pupils’ listening comprehension
We have examined two
kinds of grammar skills: the reproductive and receptive grammar skills. The
reproductive grammar skills give pupils an opportunity to make up their own
sentences in oral and written forms in other words to communicate and the
receptive grammar skills give them an opportunity to read texts or aud and
To master the
reproductive grammar skills one should study the basic sentences or models
(grammar is presented as itself in the basic sentences), to master the
receptive grammar skills one should identify and analyze the grammar item. We
teach children to read by means of grammar. It reveals the relationship between
the words in the given sentence.
We have such a conclusion
that the forming of grammar skills depends on training. Training is of great
importance to realize the grammar item. We must use a lot of training exercises
for the assimilation of grammar. We should provide the motivation of learn
English, encourage children to communicate and remember that the correction of
errors in the early stages of a language course may foster the following
confidence when they have fear of making grammar mistakes
reluctant to take risks: they only the say the information they know they can
We should realize the
importance of training exercises and the role of the individual approach to
teaching the children. Besides, the teacher must have a clear idea of the
grammar of the language, its structure and usage; everything he teaches must be
based on it; he should always be conscious of introducing or practicing some
point of grammar.
“Methods of teaching English”; М.,1970
“the practice English language teaching”; London-New York; Longman,1991
Е.В. и др., «Вопросы методики обучения иностранным языком за рубежом.» /сост.:
Е.В.Синявская, М.М. Васильева, С.В.Калинина/; М., Просвещение,1978
Charles H., “Methods of teaching modern languages.”; N.Y.,World Book Co.,1926
Arthur., ”Aspects of Language and language teaching.”; London-New York.,
Cambridge univ. press, 1968
Lado Robert and
Fries Charles C., “English pattern practices. Establishing the patterns as
habits.”; The univ. of Michigan press, 1970
“The Techniques of Language Teaching.”; Longman, 1962
Carpenter., “Teaching and Learning English as a foreign language.”; The univ.
of Michigan press, 1964
Jack C. Richards
and Theodore S. Rogers., “ Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching.”;
Cambridge univ. press, 1986
Elaine Tarone and
George Yule., “Focus on Language Learner.”; Oxford univ., 1991
Michael H. Long, Jack
C. Richards., “Methology in Tesol: A book of Readings.”; USA., 1987
“teaching English grammar.”; N.Y., Appleton – Century – Crofts, 1957
“Educating second language children: the whole child, the whole curriculum, the
whole community.” Cambridge, 1994
“Teaching English Abroad”; Oxford,1991
Rivers, Wilga M.,
“Speaking in many tongues: Essays in foreign-language teaching.”; 3rd ed.,
“How to use games in language teaching.”; London, The Macmillan press,1981
Maurel., “Easy in English. An imaginative approach to the teaching of language
Broughton, Christopher Brumfit, Roger Flavel, “Teaching English as a foreign
language.”; London, 1981
Swan M., Smith
B., “Learner English. A teacher’s guide to interference and other problems.”;
Brown C. And
Jule., “Teaching the spoken language.”; Cambridge, 1983