On Grammar Teaching & Learning
Before I undertook to teach the Grammar Course of Global IELTS, I felt that it must be quite boring both to myself and to the students, as I have always been told, from the very first day when I came to learn English, that grammar is the most boring course.
However, things turn out to be quite the opposite.
When the students came to me, at the end of the course, and told me that they benefited a lot from my teaching, I was more than encouraged and glad. It is also because of their encouragement that I dare to set pens to paper and write down this essay on my observations of grammar teaching----just some food for thought.
Most of the students came to attend the course because they have met difficulties in writing and speaking, two of the required subjects for IELTS exams. “ I simply don’t know how to write” as many of them would complain to me. Since I have been teaching writing and speaking for a long time, I try my best to link the grammar course with the writing and speaking ability to make it more target-oriented.
I divide my course into nine parts.
First, basic sentence structures. I would, on the first day of the course, remind the students of the basic SEVEN sentence structures used in English. I use the word “remind” rather than “teach” here, because most of the students sitting out there know what the structures are as soon as I write them down on the blackboard, except that they never realize it, or that they have never tried to use them actively.
I would also remind the students how important these SEVEN basic sentence structures—albeit simple—are, because they are the basis of producing beautiful English, both in speaking and writing.
Second, prepositions and conjunctions. These are also two essential parts of using English. Prepositions seem small, but one cannot possibly be regarded as a good English speaker without a good command of prepositions. And one cannot possibly write CORRECTLY without a good command of conjunctions.
Third, terms. This can be the most boring part. I have to explain to the students both terms and special sentence structures related to a specific term to make it sound interesting, or to some, worthy of learning.
Fourth, model verbs. Many students would mistakenly thing that it is an easy task to learn model verbs because all you need to do is to put the original form of a verb after a model verb. However, it only turns out to be much more complicated. I will to explain the complicated rules of model verbs to my students in a way as much organized as possible. Seeing them nodding in understanding makes me feel so good.
Fifth, passive voice.
Sixth, inversion, including full inversion and partial inversion. Sentences written in inversion are a good tool to show emphasis. If used in writing and speaking, they produce good effects. And in listening and reading, they are often used to show emphasis and often show the direction of the answers.
Seventh, clauses. When the course moves on to this stage, the students will come to understand the importance of the first class: basis sentence structures. No one can grasp clauses well without a good command of the seven sentence structures.
Eight, the subjunctive mood. Many students complain the subjunctive mood is their biggest headache, and are afraid of it from the first day of the course, even though I leave it to the last day. My method is to ask them to memorize examples rather than the formula showing how to use the mood.
Ninth, culture. I also talk about idioms and expressions related to the Bible and western myths, in particular, Roman and Greek myths. The students find it interesting. There are some expressions which they had already known for a long time, except that they didn’t know where they come from till they attended the course.
Having written so much, I hope more will come to meet and make friends in the course. And more will send emails to us to exchange your views on English learning.