Teaching English Grammar Education 453:10
Were you ever taught the rules of grammar? (Rate yourself using a Likert scale from one to ten on your knowledge of English grammar.) How much do you remember?
Learning/teaching grammar in context…. • “Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.” • Joan Didion “Second language learners want to learn language as it is really used – in both formal and informal settings, and in speech and writing – by native speakers of English.” - Coelho
Why is it important to know grammar? • “I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it.” • Carl Sandburg • 1) to assess and remediate the errors and error patterns of second-language learners. • 2) the points of grammar can be used as the basis for teaching sentence structure and vocabulary.
What is grammar? • “It is well to remember that grammar is common speech formulated” • Somerset Maugham • Grammar refers to the language patterns that indicate relationships among words in sentences.
Grammar includes…. • Grammar is not a time of waste” • Nancy Cartwright • Morphology – the study of word structure • Syntax – the study of word combinations or sentence structure
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. "Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!" He took his vorpal sword in hand: Long time the manxome foe he sought – So rested he by the Tumtum tree And stood awhile in thought. And, as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came! One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back. "And, has thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!‘ He chortled in his joy. Repeat first verse. The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
Morphology explained • Derivational morphemes – prefixes or suffixes that are added to root words to form new words • Inflectional morphemes – provide grammatical information about gender, number, person, case, degree, and verb form
Aspects of morphology that cause second language learner’s difficulty (pages 69-73) • Gender • Number (plurals, count and non-count nouns) • Person (subject-verb agreement) • Case (subjective, objective, possessive) • Degree (comparative, superlative) • Verb forms (tense, active/passive)
Syntax explained • Syntax refers to the way words are organized in sentences to create meaning • OR to sound like an educated and intelligent speaker in any language
Some aspects of syntax that cause second language learners difficulty (pages 73-86) • Word order (rigid, important in English) • Determiners (articles, this, that, these, those, my, your, his, her, its, our, their, some, any) • Verb system (lexical/main, auxiliary, modal) • Linking verbs (transitive/intransitve) • Passive voice • Questions/tag questions/negative questions • Negative statements • Phrasal verbs • Infinitives and gerunds
Some aspects of syntax that cause second language learners difficulty (pages 73-86) Sentence Types: simple, compound, complex.. Parts of Speech • Indirect speech • Pronoun reference • Literary style • Embedding • Subordination (coordinate conjunctions) • Conditional sentences • Long noun groups • Condensed syntax
How can we teach grammar? • Research indicates teaching grammar in isolation does not transfer into real communication • Grammar is best taught/practiced in communicative contexts • Supportive feedback is more helpful than overt correction • Students may need many opportunities to hear, read, practice a new structure before they internalize or produce it– months, years
Specific strategies to use • Use materials and plan activities that feature repeated language patterns • Use the content of lessons to introduce grammar concepts • Provide learners with the tools they need to talk about language • Sentence Building • Take a long-term view