Stages in teaching grammar

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Chapter 2 (Ülsever & Armstrong, Anadolu University)




There is no ‘one’ way of teaching grammar, because different grammar points, students’ age, level, learning styles and abilities affect our teaching style as teachers.


Description of the traditional way of teaching grammar


· The teacher announces the form to be taught.


T: Today we’re going to learn the third conditional.


· The teacher writes the form up on the board.


If had driven more carefully, I wouldn’t have had the accident.


· The teacher explains the form.


Notice that the ‘If’ part of the sentence takes the past perfect and the other part takes ‘would have’ followed by the third form of the verb.


· The teacher explains the meaning.


This sentence tells us that:

a.    I had an accident

b.   I didn’t drive carefully.


So I had the accident because I didn’t drive carefully.


Problems with the traditional way of teaching grammar


·        This kind of presentation is not motivating. The students do not understand the meta-language even in Turkish.

·        The form is written on the board before students know what it means.

o       The form on the board is not the spoken form.

o       The example could be confusing because ‘have’ is used as both an auxiliary and the main verb.

·        The form is focused on before the students know what it is used for.

·        To explain the meaning is extremely difficult because the students cannot comprehend the situation easily.


Alternative route


·        The teacher demonstrates the meaning of the grammar point without using the grammar item by creating a context where the meaning of the form is clear.

·        The teacher gives the ‘form’ of the grammar point that is used to express the meaning they have demonstrated.

·        The teacher (if necessary) tells the students the name of grammar item after the students have understood the item.




v    The presentation stage

·        The students should understand the meaning and the use of the language point we want to teach.

·        The students should hear and see the form. In other words, we should start with the meaning and then move into form.



·        Involve the students in the lesson.

·        Put the language into realistic contexts or situations.

·        Make sure that the language has the necessary co-text around it.

·        Make sure the meaning is obvious and then check that the students have really understood the context.

·        When you give the students the form, make sure that they have both the written and the spoken form.


v    The controlled practice stage

The objective of this stage is to give the students the opportunity to repeat the language with no chance of making a mistake in the target language. The teacher provides examples and the students only repeat the teacher’s input. The students do not produce the new language.



·        Make sure that every student has the opportunity to repeat the language without making a mistake including pronunciation, stress and intonation.

·        Make sure that the language they repeat focuses both on meaning and form.

·        Provide both written and spoken repetition.

·        Repetition can be boring. Give students a variety of ways of repeating the language using interesting situations.

·        Correct any mistakes with the new language. Ignore any other mistakes.


v    The guided practice stage

The objective of this stage is to give the students the opportunity to produce the new language. The teacher must provide the framework and the surrounding language, and the students should produce the new language.



·        Give every student the opportunity to produce the new language within the given framework.

·        Correct any mistakes related to the new language.

·        Provide both written and spoken practice.

·        Provide more than one way of giving them guided practice.


v    The free practice stage

·        The students should feel confident and familiar enough with the new language and they should be able to use it in their speaking and writing activities when they are given the opportunity.



·        Make sure every student has the opportunity to use the language freely.

·        Provide written and spoken activities.

·        Write down the mistakes they make and correct them later.

·        Make sure the activities are appropriate and natural for using the new language in realistic situations.

·        If the students are not successful enough in doing free practice activities, go back to guided practice activities and then repeat the free practice activity.

STAGES IN TEACHING GRAMMAR – Ch. 2 (Anadolu University)


· Examples of an activity for each stage

Let’s examine 6 activities in your Course Pack.


· Ordering and timing of the stages

The sequencing and timing of the activities may change according to the grammatical point you teach and the language level of the learners. You do not have to do all the stages consecutively in one lesson. It may take a number of lessons to go through all the stages.


In sequencing activities, it is sometimes possible to give students a free practice activity to start with. They may make a lot mistakes and perhaps even use L1. Then we can ‘present’ the target language, give them practice and then repeat the free practice activity. So they will be able to see the difference. This may be very encouraging for them.


It is believed that we learn 90 % of what we teach. Therefore a good teaching technique is to get the students into groups to teach each other the new structure after we taught them the new structure.


PRESENTATION ACTIVITIES – Chapter 3 (Anadolu University)


· Deciding what to present

a. Form

The language teachers have to know the answers to the following questions about the grammatical form of a new structural item:

-        How is the new structural item formed?

-        What are the rules?


For example:

-        How are if-clauses formed?

-        Which verbs take ‘to’ followed by the infinitive?

She wanted to wait for the bus.

-        Which verbs take –ing? She enjoys dancing.

-        Which verbs can take both ‘to’ and ‘-ing’

She likes dancing or she likes to dance.

b. Patterns

After the teacher decides the ‘form’ of the new grammatical item, s/he has to decide the pattern to be presented to the students.

In order to determine the structural pattern of certain kind of form, for example, “Could you tell me where …?”, it is always useful to ask ourselves the following questions:


·        What expression do I use?

·        Do other people use it ‘frequently’?

·        Is it useful for my students to know?

·        Can my students use this structure in lots of different situations?

·        Can my students use this structure with another structure?


After selecting the new pattern, the teacher should look for examples of use to fit the pattern selected and then decide which uses of the pattern s/he will teach.

For example, according to the language level of students, the teacher should select either

X has never + V3, X has always + V3

She has never acted in films before; she has always acted in theater.


Have you ever + V3?

Have you ever met a famous person?


· Identifying a good presentation

Examine how different teachers prefer to present ‘comparison of adjectives’ to their students.

Which presentation do you think is:

·        the most interesting?

·        the easiest?

·        the most useful?


Compare teachers’ presentations in the table in your Course Pack.




Showing visuals

·        focuses attention on meaning

·        helps to make the language used in class more real and alive

·        keeps students’ attention and makes the class more interesting.


Visuals can be used to present the new language and to practice what has been learned before.


List of visual resources:

· Yourself              · The blackboard          · Real objects

· Flashcards          · Pictures, charts          · Classroom

· Students            · Maps                        · Diagrams


Practice from the Course Pack

·        Using real objects

·        Using charts

·        Using pictures

·        Yourself

·        Using the blackboard




Practice from the Course Pack

·        Creating context

·        Using a dialogue

·        Using texts

·        Using time lines


PRACTICE ACTIVITIES (pp. 47-67 of Course Pack)


¨ Organization of practice activities

·        Teacher directs the class

·        Pair work activities (open pair work / closed pair work)

·        Group work activities


¨ Controlled practice activities

·        Mechanical drills

·        Meaningful drills

·        Creative drills


¨ Guided practice activities

·        Communicative activities

·        Pole play

·        Problem solving activities

·        Planning activities

·        Information-gap activities

·        Guessing games


¨ Written practice Activities