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Teaching tips - Tips for teaching grammar

As busy teachers, it is easy to get stuck in a rut. Our Teaching Tips articles are aimed at those of you who are teaching or training and are looking for some new ideas or activities to use in your classes. We hope that these articles will inspire you to try something new with your students.
If you have any teaching tips or ideas that you would like to share with us, or questions please send them to Georgina at Georgina.Ma@wits.ac.za

Tips for Teaching Grammar

Georgina Ma 
Research has shown that explicit grammar teaching can lead to sustained improvements in learners’ language accuracy (Norris and Ortega (2000) and Spada and Tomita (2010)). This research may send alarm bells ringing for teachers who dislike teaching grammar. 
We’ve put together a few tips on teaching grammar and hope that they will help to make your grammar lessons more interesting and successful: 

  • Research the grammar point properly before teaching it. 
  • Get the proportions of input and output right. Aim to spend less time on giving explanations and examples (input) and more time allowing your learners to work through grammar practice activities (output). 
  • Make a connection. Make the grammar point more real and memorable for the learners by linking it to their lives. 
  • Explanations should be short, simple and clear. 
  • Use visual aids (colour, diagrams, illustrations, time lines) to support explanations. 
  • Use discovery exercises that allow the learners to analyse and work out grammar points themselves. Such discovery exercises should be well planned and guided. 
  • Use real life examples of the language in use that can be found in advertisements, quotations, public notices, cartoons, newspaper articles, music, etc. 
  • Engage the learners. Elicit information from them when presenting the grammar point. Ask them to provide their own examples after explaining. 
  • Check meaning. Ask concept and meaning check questions to see if the learners have understood the grammar point. 
  • Don’t only use ‘mechanical’, non-communicative language practice activities. They are a useful starting point, but your lessons should also involve fun, engaging language practice activities that provide the learners with more interesting and motivating opportunities to practise the language. 
  • Find or design language practise games that will allow your learners to practise the language while having fun. 
  • Provide learners with an opportunity to practise the grammar point at home. 
  • Review and recycle grammar points frequently so that learners get adequate exposure to the grammar points. 
If you’re serious about teaching grammar effectively, come and join our Teaching Grammar course that runs from 30 September to 26 October 2013. For more information