Teaching Grammar to Yls

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  • 8/12/2019 Teaching Grammar to Yls




    National and Kapodistrian University of AthensFaculty of English Language and LiteratureELT Methods and Practices, Spring 2012Course Instructor: Prof. Bessie Dendrinos

    Tutorial carried out by:

    Paul Bouniol

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    Can we teach grammar to children?

    The basic questions that this tutorial seeks to answer are:

    What type of grammar should we teach to younglearners

    Whether or not grammar should be taught explicitly to

    very young and young learners In this tutorial we are concerned with EFL learners in Greek

    primary school, both

    very young learners (ages 6-8)

    young learners (8-12)

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    Different grammars

    Different views of language result in different

    theories of grammar and how grammar is learnt and taught

    Structural views of language are the basis for formalgrammars

    Functional views of language are the basis for notional-functional and for communicative grammars

    In English, we find a great many grammars for differentgroups of people

    L1 speakers, English teachers and advanced EFL

    students, commonly make use of reference grammars Students of English commonly make use of pedagogic


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    Teaching the grammar of a language

    Language is a whole (system), but it cannot be taught in itstotality. It needs to be broken down into parts which willconstitute the content of the curriculum/syllabus.

    Different views about what type of a system language is,

    produce different approaches to ELT, leading to differentcurricula and syllabuses:

    Structural approaches to language lead to focusing onthe formal grammatical & lexical components of language

    Functional approaches lead to focusing on the notions

    and functions of language, functional grammar,situational syllabuses.

    Different views about how language is learnt, producedifferent methods and practices of language teaching andthus of grammar teaching

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    Language learning & the teaching of grammar

    Different views about how people learn languages include: Cognitive theories which claim that people learn through complex

    cognitive mechanisms

    Behavioural theories which claim that linguistic behaviour is shapedthrough stimulus + response classroom practices, punishment +

    reward Interactional theories which claim that language is learnt through

    use and it is through use that meanings are developed in language

    No single theory is considered right or wrong by foreignlanguage experts and practitioners who have incorporatedteaching practices resulting from all three languagelearning theories

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    Language and grammar teaching practices

    Practices resulting from cognitive learning theories, usedespecially during the presentation stage Explicit teaching (by explanation) of the rules of the language rules

    about how language as a formal system is organized and/or aboutlanguage use (i.e., structural and functional rules)

    Implicit teaching of the structural and functional rules of the language(by demonstration or through practice)

    Practices resulting from behavioural theories, usedespecially during the practice stage Modeling and repeating language patterns and words, especially

    through drilling, etc.

    Practices resulting from interactional theories, usedespecially during the production stage Organized activities providing opportunities for meaningful use of the

    new language (use of the language in social context)

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    Do the young learn differently from adults?

    Theories about how young children learn are not differentfrom theories about how adults learn language andtherefore grammar, but there are special considerationsregarding how children learn anything. Remember,children:

    have an amazing ability to absorb the new

    they do not understand abstract concepts and theories(e.g. grammar explanations and metalinguisticinformation). Teaching grammar explicitly requires thelearner to think about language abstractly, so theyounger the learner, the less appropriate grammar (andespecially form-focused instruction) is

    they learn best by playing, singing, and using languagein real situations and for fun, NOT by explanation

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    What else should we remember?

    Very young and young learners:

    need to be praised or else they give up and dont wantto comply

    can use language before they understand what it is that

    they mean by saying something need to be absolutely clear about what to do

    learn through their eyes, ears, hands and their senses

    Get easily bored and need variety

    cannot concentrate for a long time on one thing

    cannot always differentiate fact from fiction

    dont always ask questions; they pretend to understand

    Remember also that children change dramatically from one year to the next

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    The focus of grammar teaching for the young

    Questions about whether the focus of grammar teaching forthe very young and young learners should be on form,meaning or use is a false question

    Attention to all three is warranted but, in order for it to

    work: the teaching techniques used must be appropriate for

    young and very young learners

    presentation, practice and production stages should beensured

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    What aspect of grammar?

    When referring to grammar, we are talking about: The grammar of words (rules about how words are formed,

    how they are used to make meaningful sentences)

    The grammar of clause and sentence, i.e., rules about wordorder and how sentences are linked together to make

    paragraphs The grammar of texts, i.e., rules about text coherence and

    cohesion, and about how sentences function as part of a text)

    The grammar of text types and genres, i.e., rules about how atext type is organized and what type of lexicogrammar is usedin a text type such as a formal letter, an information leaflet, an

    advertisement, an email, etc.

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    Teaching grammar to young

    learners: Principles and tips

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    The teaching process

    The procedure suggested by Batstone (1995) includes thefollowing steps:




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    It involves an active process during which learners becomeaware of the new pattern, notice the link between form andmeaning, but do not try to produce the pattern themselvesyet

    Successful noticing activities:

    Support meaning as well

    Present the pattern/form) in linguistic AND social context

    Compare/contrast the new pattern/form with other (alreadyknown) patterns/forms

    Require active participation on the part of the learner

    Must be at a level of detail appropriate to the learners age

    Lead into, but not include, activities that manipulate language

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    Types of noticing activities

    Classroom instructions, questions, requests, etc.

    Dialog with a puppet

    Using texts

    Using visual

    Exploiting every day situations



    Writing and circling

    Underlining critical points Time lines

    Discovery techniques

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    Structuring activities are intended to help learners makethe new grammar pattern part of their internal grammarand, if necessary, reorganize it

    Structuring usually requires controlled practice aroundform and meaning

    Learners are involved in controlled use of the language,making necessary changes of form to express meaningcorrectly and appropriately

    Learners are given choices in content that require

    adjustments in grammar to express meaning During the structuring stage, practice is fully or partly


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    Structuring activities

    Interaction activities, such as questionnaires, surveys aboutlearners favourite hobbies, food, routines, etc.

    Language games, such as Hangman)

    Info-gap activities, such as the one where learners are asked toguess an action mimed

    Meaningful repetition drills

    Controlled written practice, such as finding the correct word orderof sentences)

    Songs with appropriate lyrics (where language patterns arerepeated

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    This is the stage of production where learners are givenopportunities to use the new patterns

    Tasks require attention to grammar as well as effectivecommunication

    Proceduralizing activities:

    Writing captions in comics and/or pictures

    Parallel writing (based on a model text provided)

    Finding and writing the ending of a story

    Telling a story based on visuals

    Role playing and simulations

    Problem solving

    Having learners correct content or form errors the teacher(deliberately) makes

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