Tag Archives: Grammar
Mar 6th , 2013
There are so many awkward, funny and gut wrenching situations that deserve a dedicated word, yet no such word exists. Well…in English at least. Luckily, we found some more great words to add to our original list of unique words that … Continue reading
Feb 18th , 2013
Dec 19th , 2012
Nov 21st , 2012
Nov 7th , 2012
Many of our users get confused when using you’re or your. Of course, the example above shows mistakes both in spelling and grammar. So let’s explain: You’re is a contraction for “you are”. For example, “you’re amazing”, “you’re smart”, “You’re not really wearing … Continue reading
Jan 17th , 2011
When I started teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) I was told to incorporate grammar into my lessons, rather than teach it separately. However, after teaching for a while, I realized that adult ESL students come from school systems that tend to teach grammar separately. Having always learned this way, ESL students expect to study grammar in isolation from other aspects of the language. They are used to such an approach, and it gives them a feeling of accomplishment.
Now, in my lesson plans, I teach grammar as a separate topic. I begin by presenting a specific grammar topic – for example, irregular past tense verbs – and then use these verbs in context, in games, in conversational activities and so on. Teaching this way is important, because grammar lessons tend to be very dry otherwise.
These introductions last no more than 30 minutes. Any more than that, and people begin to lose interest. Then, I embed this grammar lesson into a broader class lesson.
After finishing with my grammar lesson (in this case, irregular past tense verbs), I move on to cover the four general skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. While teaching these, I integrate the grammar lesson that the class has just learned.
So, for a reading passage, I will choose a story told in the past tense – or a story told in the present tense, which I will then ask the students to change to past tense. I will assign a writing exercise like: ‘What did you do last weekend’? For speaking, I will ask students what they did in their home country. And for a listening exercise, I will ask them to interview another student, and then report it to the class.
Another way to do this is to choose a single topic for the entire lesson, both grammar and the four skills. For example, a topic could be something like jobs or job interviews. If the grammar lesson of the day is irregular past tense verbs, we can discuss the students’ past job experience, their past job responsibilities and so on. They can conduct mock job interviews with each other (exercising their speaking and listening skills), fill out a job application (writing) and go over wanted ads in the newspaper (reading).
In this way, they will practice the grammar point, learn the relevant and get plenty of practice in the grammar and related vocabulary to the topic. If I were to teach English online, the steps would be very similar.
Jan 9th , 2011
After teaching English grammar for a while, you come to the realization (along with your students) that English is a strange, hybrid language!
Some languages are phonetic – spelling and pronunciation are fairly obvious and consistent, following logical patterns and rules. English is not one of them.
The English language has so many influences from so many foreign languages that at times it can be very difficult to figure out how to correctly spell and pronounce some words. For example, why do the words “should” and “wood” rhyme? Why don’t “weight” and “height” rhyme? There are many such examples.
In addition, the English noun often has been imported from other languages. Examples include accoutrement, zeitgeist, chutzpah, coup d’état, détente, and the list goes on. These words cause many problems for students of English, and even native speakers sometimes spell and pronounce them incorrectly.
These nouns, along with irregular verbs and grammar exceptions, make English a challenging language to master. However, once a student acknowledges and accepts the eccentricities of the English language, they often realize the wisdom of memorizing the rules, and then remembering to tackle the myriad exceptions as they encounter them. This approach can make language learning much less daunting.
Another difficult point for students in an English school to master is idioms. The reason that many students find idioms too difficult to learn and master is because, most of the time, there is no logical way to explain their origins (for example, “it’s raining cats and dogs” or “she blew her top”). Instead, students must rely on memory and practice to learn them.
There are so many idioms in English that they can be confusing for the average learner, especially as teachers sometimes tend to overemphasize them in their lesson plans. However, if idioms are taught intermittently, as they arise in written or spoken material (such as newspaper articles, reading passages or TV news items), then students will be much more likely to remember them – especially if they are instructed to practice them in their writing and speaking.
Using this more haphazard method, students will generally retain idioms better, and the odds that they will recall them the next time they hear them somewhere are higher. Generally, this is more or less adequate for students of English, as they need to recognize and know how to interpret idioms that they hear in conversation, but do not necessarily need to be able to use them when speaking themselves.