Grammar MUSTS

Questions from teachers about English grammar and usage

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Grammar MUSTS

Unread post by Asdrubael » Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:27 am

Hey folks, I've recently been hired as a full time high school English teacher. I completed my first semester this week, and I feel like I am letting my students down in terms of grammar. Grammar was never really the focus of my education. I learned how to write through osmosis - I read a TON as a child - and I never got around to actually learning the vocabulary and implementation of grammar. That said, I comprehend all of the basic building blocks and some of the more complex elements. I'd be unsuitable for my profession if I did not. I still feel, however, that I could do a lot more to emphasize grammar in my classroom. As such, I have a few questions for the more qualified/experienced members of this board:

Is there a preferred textbook or resource that I should look at getting that is universally regarded as one of the best resources on grammar?

Are there any suggested websites/free media that I can access that provide quizzes, activities, etc that you've used successfully in a classroom?

If you were told that your grammar unit could consist ONLY of five grammar concepts, what five would you choose? For sake of discussion, we'll assume that students have already learned basic sentence structure (subject/predicate and clauses/phrases).

Are there any grammar-related activities that you've done that you think worked extremely well and wouldn't mind sharing?

Are there any odd quirky grammar things that you preach that you think are valuable? (Two of mine that I can think of is avoiding the words 'just' and 'get.' I know there are appropriate times to use both, but I find that students very rarely use them correctly).

I don't expect you to answer all of these, but any assistance is helpful. If you would prefer to PM, that is also excellent. Thanks for taking the time. I'm excited to be a part of this board.


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Re: Grammar MUSTS

Unread post by navajo » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:24 pm

hey JP:

don't worry, that happens to many people who come to teach in a foreign country, if that is what you are referring to. many did not ever plan on being foreign teachers, thus paid little attention to grammar in their education, since the universities do not either. however, for the language learner, grammar is a controversial necessity. it is controversial, because so many teachers learned English without learning much grammar. but, as far as its real necessity, it does not take much logic to recoginize the fact.

this website is good for grammar, as is one other called English but as far as anything supplementing a curriculum, i have not found it on the internet. after teaching in a foreign country, one sees how nice it is to be able to work from the excellent textbooks found in some of the English speaking nations.

as far as 5 grammar points, i would emphasize the issue of PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE, repeatedly. some languages do not have this as a constant principle, but of course, with English, it is the basic idea of each tense. if the student can begin to learn this idea, they can develop automaticity, meaning that they will eventually not have to think about which tense to use, it will arise in their minds automatically, which is the goal of ESL teaching. being that the ESL student in a foreign country does not speak the language at home, as do first language learners, they need to practice using certain verb tenses in your presence. they want and need you to correct them, however gently, when they make mistakes. He have or he has, etc. also, being that the ESL student does not have have 12 years of heavy grammar and writing classes like we do, day in and day out, they don't have much in punctuation either.

you certainly have nice writing. just go back and study the four verb tenses plus conditionals. then, see if you can teach the idea of prepositions!! and of course, students love to learn to use adjectives, as it gives them the chance to be more descriptive.

best of luck.

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Re: Grammar MUSTS

Unread post by Syl » Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:31 pm

I strongly agree with Navajo, and besides, I'm not an enthusiastic fan in what regards teaching grammar. It has been proved that all the theory taught is useless in most of the cases, when it comes the situation when someone has to write a composition, for example, or even in a test, all the rules (which are very controversial) get totally mixed up and students become confused, making more mistakes than ever.

The best way to learn a language is being exposed to it, as much as possible. And I mean correct language, not the slang used in many songs or movies. Constant exposition does cause the pupils to internalize the rules without even learning them.


Probably you will have to deal with students that ask you "Why is this, or why is that?" and it helps to be prepared. If you Google words like "grammar esl" or "verb tenses" you will find thousands of sites and a bit of search will have to be done. As for a good Grammar book, there are so many today. I like a lot the Oxford manuals, although there are also very good publishers in my country. Anyway, I strongly recommend that you look around the net, and I am sure you will find what you want.

Good luck:)

Syl's English Corner - Learn English and Have Fun

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