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How to put Grammar into practice
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anitka



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Posts: 10
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2003 7:21 am    Post subject: How to put Grammar into practice Reply with quote

Hello dear colleagues.
Sometimes I wonder what ways we can use to put more complicated Grammar into practice. Let's say we've got adults at Pre-Itern level who know Past Simple, Present Simple, Present Cont. We've introduced them to Present Perfect and after drilling exercices they still tend to substitute it with Past Simple though they know the rules.
Can you help me with your ideas how to put it into practice?
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strider



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 160
Location: France

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2003 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's an idea - instead of using the 'jargon' words for the tenses (past simple, present progressive...) try to use adverbs more (yesterday, at the moment...), especially in drilling exercises.

If they get into the habit of using tenses with adverbs, they're more likely to use the right tense when the adverb comes up in conversation.
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LarryLatham



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1195
Location: Aguanga, California (near San Diego)

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2003 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Strider's suggestion about using other words to name verb forms (tenses & aspects). But the specifics of his (her) suggestion will be misleading. For example, using "Yesterday" to indicate past simple tense will leave students with the mistaken impression that past tense is used when you want to talk about something in past time. Sometimes that may be true, but it doesn't account for such uses as: "Would you mind if I opened the window?", or "Did you want to see me, boss?", or "What did you say your name was?" Nor would "At the Moment" to indicate present continuous forms account for such things as "I'm reading a fascinating book about the American Civil War." (This while in class, teaching grammar.) Or, "I'm playing tennis with Susan on Saturday." (This uttered on Wednesday.)

To avoid such misconceptions on the part of students, which, BTW, also obtain from such names as "present tense", "past tense", etc., I'd vote for simpler names like "first form", "second form", "third form", and the like.
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 265

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2003 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'd vote for simpler names like "first form", "second form", "third form", and the like.


Ugh! I was with you 'til there Confused

I don't think it really matters that much what you call the forms - they're there only to help a teacher describe how the language functions - just so long as the names are used consistently.

You could start numbering them form 1, form 2. However, as the number of uses is far greater than the number of forms, inevitably, there would be subforms 1.1, 1.1.1 Oh, dear, oh dear, oh dear! Wink

Iain
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Glenski



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 164
Location: Sapporo, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2003 10:25 pm    Post subject: my 2 cents Reply with quote

I agree. Don't create your own names for the grammatical terms/forms/tenses. It'll only confuse them more, especially if they are advanced learners who try looking things up in their own reference books.

Just teach the darned English. If students use simple past when they should use present perfect, show them why this is wrong. Point out the key words ("since", for example).

As for those examples that Larry pointed out, I agree that students may get confused with them, but it's up to the teacher to explain that (in some cases) they use past tense just because that's the way the grammar is built. English isn't the only language that mixes things like this, and if you can compare with their own language, you'll be better off.

Sometimes you just have to say, This is the way it is. Memorize it this way.
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Celeste



Joined: 20 Jan 2003
Posts: 74
Location: Fukuoka City, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2003 7:28 am    Post subject: [i]Grammmar Practice Activities [/i]by Penny Ur Reply with quote

I would highly recommend a book called Grammar Practice Activities by Penny Ur. It has a whole chapter (9 different activities) for the present perfect.

Here are a couple of the activities summarized:


1. Find someone who

Uses ever and never with present perfect.

Make up cards with sentences such as "Find someone who has been to Spain."

Students must then ask the question "Have you ever been to Spain?" to as many students as it takes to get an affirmative response. They must then write that person's anme on the card.


2. What has/ hasn't happened

Give students before and after pictures, and have them brainstorm sentences for what has not happened yet in the first picture, and what has happened in the second picture.

3. Things have changed since then

Describe to students impressive events that have happened in your lifetime.

Man has landed on the moon.
English has become an important international language.

Ask the students to think of things that have happened within their own memories, suggesting topics as needed. (fashion, means of transport, eating habits, the arts, science and technology)




Hope these help. Another grammar activity book that I have used with adult students is called Fun with Grammar, and it is a supplement to the Azar series of grammar books.
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Roger



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 274

PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2003 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All the previous posters have said something or other that has shed some light on this topic. No one was totally wrong, or even partly wrong. CLearly, the whole issue is not that easy to deal with. It depends to a great extent on your students too - how do English tenses compare with tenses in their own first tongue?

It will then be seen that the concept of tenses underpins another concept, namely the concept of time. Either it is momentary (in French you would say "punctual", a point in time), or it is continuous. If it is continuous, is it still continuing, or has it come to an end?
Some tenses melt into other grammar concepts, the conditional, for example. Here, form and function are to be separated ("if I were you ..." is not a tense).

Summa summarum, those who point to those telltale markers (Since, for a long time, in the year......) will probably achieve the most with their students.
Good luck
Roger
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strider



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 160
Location: France

PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2003 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First of all, Larry, 'Strider' is most definitely a 'he' !

Secondly, I think the point raised by anitka in his / her (Oh dear! Here we go again!) original post touches on a much bigger issue. When adults learn English, how should we teach them? Should we adpot an 'academic' approach, using lots of grammar terminology (which younger students often need to know for their exams)? Or can we adapt our methodologies to train people who may have been out of the education system for a long time? In other words, use a more communication based approach?

I suppose the answer is that we should use a bit of both. However, as trainers, I think we need to be wary of teaching lots of grammar, when all the poor guy needs to know is how to tell his foreign boss what happened last month.
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 265

PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2003 3:01 pm    Post subject: Not a lot of people know that... Reply with quote

Quote:
Secondly, I think the point raised by anitka in his / her (Oh dear! Here we go again!)


Anitka, methinks is the diminutive of Ann, like Annie, Antja, Annita, Annjeska.

Iain
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Gary B



Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2003 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wha'z up? I agree and disagee with Strider. As English instructors, I think it's beneficial to use both communicative approaches and to teach explicit grammar. I believe we need to teach more grammar however. It seems to me there has been to much focus on the communicative approach. As a result, there are many ESL students living in the States that have no problem telling their bosses what they've done last month, but don't know how to express it "correctly" or how to write. Many of their errors have become fossilized because native speakers are not going to correct an English second language learner's errors as long as they're being understood. The focus on content rather than form only encourages students to fossilize their errors.
Chow for Now,
Only An Opinion In Motown Gary B.
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LarryLatham



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1195
Location: Aguanga, California (near San Diego)

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2003 5:54 pm    Post subject: Grammar or Communication Reply with quote

Gary B makes a point, although a troubling one to me.

Perhaps, and I'm only just beginning to form this idea, we fail our students by failing to help them be good students. In particular, those of us who teach adults primarily, may miss the mark here. I find myself coming down, in this face-off between grammar and communication, on the side of communication (roughly). I think in general we waste valuable time expounding on the finer points of structural detail in class. That said, however, Gary B's point about how so many students fail to "pick up" better ways to put things is valid. In a perfect world, students would "notice" how their sentences and statements differ from those of native speakers, and make adjustments. A select few do. Perhaps part of our responsibility as teachers, therefore, is to help more students become better students. Maybe we need to spend some time and effort working with our classes explicitly showing them how to study a foreign language. The final result of their studies, of course, rests with them. If they have not been a student for a long time, or if they've never been a real student before, it might be a great benefit for them if we help them hone their skills of study. Spending a few hours teaching them the value of "noticing" differences, for instance, may help them much more than spending the same time grinding out grammatical detail.

What do you all think?

Larry Latham
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 265

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2003 10:38 pm    Post subject: Grammar or Communication Reply with quote

Quote:
I think in general we waste valuable time expounding on the finer points of structural detail in class.


I agree. I've had conversations with teachers where they weren't sure if what a student said was right or not. Like a dog with a big tasty bone, he's just not prepared to let it go - they'd expend hours trying to figure out why the student's comment was subtly wrong. Instead of seeing the glass as 99.8% full, they seem to be only able to see the 0.2% gap at the top! Shocked Come on! Give yourself a pat on the back and move on! Smile

Quote:
Maybe we need to spend some time and effort working with our classes explicitly showing them how to study a foreign language.


Working on the principle that everything should be student lead, why not ask the students to find out what methods, and resources they each use. Having studied a few languages myself, I'd throw my ideas into the pot too. Perhaps, the students won't have any radically new ideas that I've not seen before - you never know - plus as a teacher I'd get a better understanding of how they each like to learn. All useful stuff! Smile

Iain
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Gary B



Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2003 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wha'z up?
Larry L. makes an excellent point. Maybe we need to teach our students how to study since many of them may not have been students in a long time and some never have been students. Maybe the key is teaching them studying skills as well as the language skills we're trying to teach them. Dduck also makes a good point. Why not ask the students themselves what and how they want to be taught? I have asked and many of the students I have had asked to learn grammar. I'm in a Masters program and they insist that grammar should not be taught explicitly, but I disagree and have to go with the flow until I'm finished. I have taught for 6 years before entering the program and I'm going by my own personal experience which is also another key factor in determing what an instructor feels is the way to go.
Chow for Now,
Getting Used To This Message Board In Motown Gary B.
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strider



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 160
Location: France

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2003 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First of all, I want to say how much I'm enjoying this discussion !

I wonder if the differences in our opinions are due to the differences in our students? This discussion is taking place under the heading of 'Adult Education'. However, are we talking about people who are outside of the usual "student" age range who want to learn a language or pass an exam, or are we talking about working people who need to speak / write English better in their jobs?

In my experience, the latter category don't need to know all the terms that we usually use (present perfect, the third conditional...) but the teacher should still teach it under the 'disguise' of communication situations.
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LarryLatham



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1195
Location: Aguanga, California (near San Diego)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2003 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
...don't need to know all the terms that we usually use (present perfect, the third conditional...) but the teacher should still teach it under the 'disguise' of communication situations.

I both agree and disagree with you, Strider. I too, often have the feeling I want to do a little grammar "exploration" with my students, even if I generally believe that communitative methods should dominate in my classes. Sometimes, this makes me feel a little guilty if I've spent quite a bit of time on the grammar, but I always rationalize by my gauge of how students reacted. If they seemed to enjoy it, and I often find that they do, that mitigates my guilt well enough. On the other hand, I do think it's helpful, nay necessary to introduce terminology. How else can you discuss the grammar? But I often feel that the standard terminology, especially as concerns verb tenses and aspects, is so misleading as to be particularly unhelpful. It is difficult to establish the distinction between time and tense in your students' minds, when the tenses have names like: present simple or past simple or even the ridiculous "present continuous used for the future". So I like to introduce alternative terminology. Somebody, however, in an earlier posting here, pointed out properly that I could be causing some problems for those students who study standard texts on their own. I admit to that, but so far, I've had few students who do that.

By the way, I'm also enjoying the discussion.

Larry Latham
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