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A general model for introducing new language

Teaching Grammar

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT

1. Do you think you know Grammar of your native language?

2. Why is Grammar very important in foreign language learning?

3. Do you think English Grammar is difficult? Why?

4. In what ways were you introduced to new language at school?

5. Do you think most grammar exercises are unchallenging and boring?

6. Are there any types of grammar exercises that you enjoy doing? What are they?

7. What do you think are the most common difficulties students have in learning English Grammar?

CHAPTER OUTLINE

· The Importance of Grammar in Learning a Foreign Language

· The Most Common Difficulties Students Have in Learning English Grammar

· The Content of Teaching Grammar

· The Presentation of Meaning and Use

· A General Model for Introducing New Language

· The Position of Writing During Presentation Stage (a fill-in exercise, parallel writing)

· Kinds of Exercises for the Assimilation of Grammar

 

CHAPTER GOALS

After completing this chapter you will be able to

1. explain the importance of grammar in teaching and learning a foreign language

2. explain the aim in teaching grammar

3. name the most common difficulties students have in learning English grammar

4. explain ways in which students can be introduced to new grammar material

5. give characteristics of a context for introducing new language

6. name and describe 5 components of the general model for introducing new language

7. explain the position of writing during presentation stage

8. name and give examples of exercises for the assimilation of grammar

 

KEY WORDS

learn grammar; the content; active minimum; passive minimum; the context for introducing new language; lead-in; elicitation; explanation; accurate reproduction; immediate creativity; a model; oral presentation; fill-in exercise; parallel writing

 

· The Importance of Grammar in Learning Foreign Language

If you ask the average speaker of a language what they know about grammar they may remember the old lesson from school. But beyond that they will say that they have forgotten what Grammar they once knew. The same speaker, however, can say a sentence like “If I had known, I’d have come earlier“ without thinking, even though it is grammatically complex. How is this possible?

Linguists have been investigating the native speaker’s knowledge for years. What they have found is that the grammatical system is rule-based and that competent users of the language “know” these rules in some way. But the majority of them would find it difficult to articulate these rules. This largely subconscious knowledge consists of a great number of rules with which it is possible to create a number of sentences.

So, our average native speakers who say they do not know Grammar are both right and wrong. They do not consciously know any grammar and could not produce any rules of Grammar without study and thought. But they do have knowledge which is subconscious and which allows them to generate grammatically correct sentences.



Since a knowledge of Grammar is essential for competent users of a language it is clearly necessary for our students. Our aim in teaching Grammar should be to ensure that students are communicatively efficient with the Grammar they have at their level.

· The Most Common Difficulties Students Have in Learning Grammar

The main difficulty in learning a new language is that of changing from the grammatical mechanism of the native language to that of the foreign language. As you know, every language has its own way of fitting words together to form sentences. In English, word order is far more important than in Russian. Ukrainian and Russian pupils often violate the word order which results in bad mistakes in expressing their thoughts. The English tense system also presents a lot of trouble to Ukrainian and Russian-speaking pupils because of the difference which exists in these languages with regard to time and tense relations. The sequence of tenses is another difficult point of English grammar for Ukrainian-speaking students because there is no such phenomenon in their mother tongue. The most difficult point of English grammar in the article because it is completely strange to Russian-speaking pupils. The use of articles comes first in the list of the most frequent errors.

· The Content of Teaching Grammar

One of the first steps toward the elimination of mistakes is correct selection of grammar teaching material. As you know learners are expected to acquire language proficiency in listening comprehension, speaking, writing and reading. So, grammar material should be selected for the purpose. There exist principles of selecting grammar material both for teaching speaking (active minimum) and for teaching reading (passive minimum). For selecting grammar material for speaking the principle of frequency is of great importance. For example, the Present Indefinite is frequency used both in conversation and in various texts. Therefore it should be included in the grammar minimum. For selecting grammar material for reading the principle of polysemia is very important. The amount of grammar material students should assimilate in school, and the way it is distributed throughout the course of study, may be found in the syllabus for secondary schools.

· The Presentation of Meaning and Use

Now we will consider ways in which students can be introduced to new grammar material. By “new” we mean language we think students are not yet able to use. The stage of the lesson when new material is introduced is often called presentation. Our job at this stage of the lesson is to present the students with clear information about the language they are learning. We must show them what the language means and how it is used. I’ll give you an example which will explain the difference between these 2 concepts. We all know that the Present Continuous tense is used to describe actions that are taking place now. However, native speakers do not use this tense to describe people’s actions all the time. Thus, we as well as native speakers don’t spend our time saying, “Look, I’m opening the door. I’m drinking a cup of tea etc”. That’s not how we use the Present Continuous. We actually use it when there is some point. So, we might ring somebody and say “Oh, what’s Victor doing at the moment?” It’s a reasonable question since we can’t see him. If we are demonstrating a recipe to a TV audience we might then describe what we are doing, e.g. “So now I’m mixing the butter and the flour”.

Students need to get an idea of how the new language is used by native speakers and the best way of doing this is to present language in context.

The context for introducing new language should have the following characteristics.

Ø it should show what the new language means and how it is used

Ø a good context should be interesting for the students

Ø a good context should provide the background for a lot of language use

Very often the textbooks will have all the characteristics mentioned here. But the textbook is not always so appropriate: for a number of reasons the information in the book may not be right for our students. In such cases we will want to create out own contexts for language use.

· A General Model for Introducing New Language

We will now look at a general model for introducing new language which gives an overall picture of the procedure. The model has 5 components: lead-in, elicitation, explanation, accurate reproduction, and immediate creativity.

1) During the lead-in the context is introduced and the meaning or use of the new language is demonstrated. This is the stage at which students may hear or see some language (including the new language) and during which students may become aware of certain key concepts. The key concepts are those pieces of information about the context that are vital for students are to understand the context.

2) During the elicitation stage the teacher tries to see if the students can produce the new language. If they can it would clearly be wasteful and demotivating for them if a lot of time was spent practising the language that they already know. At the elicitation stage – depending on how well the students can produce the new language – the teacher can decide which of the stages to go to next. If the students can’t produce the new language at all, for example, we will move to the explanation stage. If they can, but with minor mistakes, we may move to the accurate reproduction stage to clear up those problems. If they know the new language but need a bit more controlled practice in producing it we may move directly to the immediate creativity stage. Elicitation is vitally important for it gives the teacher information upon which to act: it is also motivating for the students and actively involves their learning abilities.

3) During the explanation stage the teacher shows how the new language is formed. It is here that we may explain something in Ukrainian or Russian. We may demonstrate grammatical form on the blackboard. In other words, this is where the students learn how the new language is constructed.

4) During the accurate reproduction stage students are asked to repeat and practice a certain number of models. The emphasis here will be on the accuracy of what the students say rather than meaning or use. Here the teacher makes sure that the students can form the new language correctly, getting the grammar right and perfecting their pronunciation as far as is necessary.

5) When the students and teacher are confident that the students can form the new language correctly they will move to immediate creativity. Here they try to use what they have just learned to make sentences of their own (not the sentences which the teacher or book has introduced as models). It is at this stage that both teacher and student can see if the students have really understood the meaning, use and form of the new language. If they are able to produce their own sentences they can feel confident that the presentation was a success. I want to notice again that if the students perform well during elicitation the teacher can move straight to immediate creativity. If at that stage they perform badly the teacher may find it necessary either to return to a short accurate reproduction stage or, in extreme cases, to re-explain the new language.

This model can be applied to a number of presentation situations, many of which are taken from published textbooks. We represent the model for introducing new language in diagram form below:

 

Students perform well

 
 

 

 


A general model for introducing new language

· The Position of Writing During Presentation Stage (a fill-in exercise, parallel writing)

In this chapter I have been advocating an oral approach in which the first thing students do with the language is to say it. At any stage, however, the teacher may ask the students to write the new language.

Often the teacher will use the writing as reinforcement for an oral presentation. To do so the teacher will ask students to write sentences before or after the immediate creativity stage. The sentences may be the original models the teacher used during the accurate reproduction stage. Students just copy these sentences from the board. They might see the same sentences, but the teacher might leave out certain words. This is commonly called a fill-in exercise.

The students might be shown model sentences and then be asked to write similar sentences of their own. This is a written version of the immediate creativity stage. The students might see a short piece of connected writing using the new language and then be asked to write a similar piece. This is often called parallel writing.

All of these techniques have their merits, although copying is often unchallenging and boring. The main objective though is to relate the spoken and written forms of the new language, and to enable the students to write the new pattern as well as say it.

· Kinds of Exercises for the Assimilation of Grammar

The following types may be suggested

Ø recognition exercises

Ø drill exercises

Ø sentence transformations

Ø sentence recombinations

Ø speech exercises (creative)

Ø listen-and-respond activities

Ø making dialogues using the grammar items covered

Ø making statements on the picture

Ø speaking on a suggested topic

Ø role-play

Ø etc, etc


Date: 2015-12-18; view: 1837


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