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Teaching Grammar

Developing Grammar Activities

Many courses and textbooks, especially those designed for lower proficiency levels, use a specified sequence of grammatical topics as their organizing principle. When this is the case, classroom activities need to reflect the grammar point that is being introduced or reviewed. By contrast, when a course curriculum follows a topic sequence, grammar points can be addressed as they come up.

In both cases, instructors can use the Larsen-Freeman pie chart as a guide for developing activities.

For curricula that introduce grammatical forms in a specified sequence, instructors need to develop activities that relate form to meaning and use.

  • Describe the grammar point, including form, meaning, and use, and give examples (structured input)

  • Ask students to practice the grammar point in communicative drills (structured output)

  • Have students do a communicative task that provides opportunities to use the grammar point (communicative output)

For curricula that follow a sequence of topics, instructors need to develop activities that relate the topical discourse (use) to meaning and form.

  • Provide oral or written input (audiotape, reading selection) that addresses the topic (structured input)

  • Review the point of grammar, using examples from the material (structured input)

  • Ask students to practice the grammar point in communicative drills that focus on the topic (structured output)

  • Have students do a communicative task on the topic (communicative output)

See Teaching Goals and Methods for definitions of input and output. See Planning a Lesson for an example of a lesson that incorporates a grammar point into a larger communication task.

When instructors have the opportunity to develop part or all of the course curriculum, they can develop a series of contexts based on the real world tasks that students will need to perform using the language, and then teach grammar and vocabulary in relation to those contexts.

For example, students who plan to travel will need to understand public address announcements in airports and train stations. Instructors can use audiotaped simulations to provide input; teach the grammatical forms that typically occur in such announcements; and then have students practice by asking and answering questions about what was announced.

 

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BACK TO STRATEGIES FOR LEARNING GRAMMAR

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