Presenting Grammar

by Sophia McMillan
(Shane Training Centre, Japan)


False Beginners & Japanese Methods of Teaching Grammar

False beginners are people who have studied the language before but have forgotten it. Japanese adults are often classed as false beginners rather than true beginners, because they have studied English at school: three years in Junior High School; 3 years in High School and possibly 2-4 years at university. Despite this many learners have real problems using English.

Most adult learners learnt English through translation methods of teaching, although more communicative methods are becoming popular. Many learners think they understand grammar and can be reluctant to study it although they still make many basic errors.

Stages of a Grammar Presentation
When presenting new language or structure it is important to remember that for some learners it will be a necessary review while for others it is an introduction to a new language point.

Language presentation has a number of stages:
1. Lead-in – put the language into a recognisable context so the teacher can bring out the meaning or learners can see the meaning without a lengthy verbal explanation
2. Elicitation – Increases the opportunity for STT (student talk time), keeps learners engaged, focussed & finds out what they already know
3. Explanation/Clarification – to make sure the learners have fully understood the target language, form & meaning etc
4. Accurate reproduction – help with pronunciation & encourages learners to become familiar with the language
5. Controlled practice – help learners absorb new language and help commit it to long-term memory: To familiarise them with new language, not introduce it. Focus on accuracy.
6. Feedback – allow a sense of completion, discussion of the task & error correction
7. Free/r Practice – give learners an opportunity to use the language at their disposal to complete a task set in a communicative manner. Focus on fluency
8. Feedback – allow a sense of completion, discussion of the task & error correction

Presenting Grammar
a) Building a Story (Situational Grammar Presentation):
• Create a situation using pictures/flashcards or mime. The situation should contain or prompt several examples of the target structure
• Elicit a sentence and clarify meaning, form, pronunciation and appropriacy if necessary by asking concept questions
• Drill this sentence
• Elicit more example sentences, continuing to drill
• Set a controlled practice activity, monitor to check
• Give feedback on the activity
• Set another controlled practice activity or a freer activity if learners are ready

b)Presenting Language from a Text or Audio:
• Generate interest in the listening or reading text
• Pre-teach any necessary vocab
• Set a task and learners listen/read once to do task
• Give feedback on this task
• Learners listen/read again and this time they are listening/reading for the target language. A gap-fill is a common task for this
• Elicit a sentence and clarify meaning, form, pronunciation and appropriacy if necessary by asking concept questions
• Drill this sentence
• Elicit more example sentences, continuing to drill
• Set a controlled practice activity, monitor to check
• Give feedback on the activity
• Set another controlled practice activity or a freer activity if learners are ready

c)Test Teach Test
• Set an activity to find out if learners can use the target structure spontaneously
• Give feedback on the activity
• The presentation stage is essentially the same as the two above (starting from “elicit a sentence”) although the teacher will shorten or extend this stage as necessary, depending on learners’ performance in the first activity
• Set another practice activity, can be controlled or freer - the second Test

d) Teaching Functional Language
• Set up situation and make the task that is being performed clear
• Set a task and learners listen to a dialogue (on audio, video, spoken by the teacher.)
• Give feedback on the task
• Teacher elicits the different chunks of language that perform the task (by re-listening/gap-fill/checking the tape script). Make sure replies are included so learners can fully perform the task, not just half of it
• Clarify form, pronunciation and appropriacy. Check learners are aware of the function of the structure again
• Drill, paying careful attention to intonation
• Set a controlled practice activity

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