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K. Lynn Savage
Ventures Series Editor
• Learners’ needs
Teacher: “Please bring me the books.”
Student brings one book.
Why did the student bring only one book?
The student didn’t hear the ‘s’.
Job interviewer: “How long have
you been working at your current job?”
Applicant: “I worked there for two years.”
What is the difference between the
applicant’s answer and the
Present perfect vs. past tense
Student reads: “He has lived there for two years.”
Student focuses on lived, not have lived.
What incorrect assumption does the reader make?
The reader assumes that the person no longer lives there.
Automotive tech student writing what he did to a customer's car: I check the brakes.
The supervisor wonders . . .
• Is the student checking the brakes now?
• Has the student already checked the brakes?
• Is the student going to check the brakes?
• Is the student writing about his everyday tasks: I check the brakes everyday.
Four areas to consider:
“Skills and knowledge are best acquired in context.”
“Adults . . . . are said to place particular importance as learners on realistic rapid application of new knowledge to practical contexts and problems in their real lives.”
Researchers believe that teaching grammar (focusing
on form) is effective, but they advocate that it should
be done in meaningful, relevant contexts where
students are given plenty of opportunities to practice it.
“Teaching grammar to adult English language learners: focus on form.”
CAELA Network Brief
Function = the purpose for communicating
One function: several structures
Function: giving advice
One structure: several functions
One function, several structures
Example: future intention
Ask: Which is more frequent?
be going to + verb
• Necessity for conveying meaning
Example: -s on third person singular
The -s is redundant because the subject tells us
we are talking about only one person.
With whom do your students need to speak English?
Who do your students need to speak English with?
Distinction between subject case who and object case whom.
We rarely hear whom in conversation any more.
But look at the following:
We are coming to a school zone. Drive slow.
Distinction between adjectives and adverbs.
At one time, slow was used only as an adjective. Now it often occurs in daily speech as an adverb.
The “Unreal” Conditional:
• Used for unreal or improbable situations
• Formed by the simple past in the if clause and would + base form of verb in the result clause.
If I were rich, I would . . .
If I had the money, I would . . .
(If this were snow . . . )
textbook reflects actual use.
3. Avoid “correcting” grammar “errors” that don’t reflect common use today.
Past perfect verb tense
Example: I had eaten before I went to the movie.
Do you hear this tense in common daily speech?
Rule: Use the past perfect to show that an event
happened before another event in the past.
The past perfect shows the earlier event.
I ate before I went to the movie.
The past perfect tense is seldom used in spoken English.
Lane and Lange, Writing Clearly
Grammar structures that appear mainly in
written English are better taught in higher-level
classes that prepare students for higher
Grammar Matters, p. 15
Present grammar in the sequence in which we “acquire” our first language.
• Listening before speaking
• Speaking before reading
• Reading before writing
Start by . . . . clearly defining what one wants learners to
be able to do (the end) before the beginning, teaching
them how to accomplish that end, and then assessing
and documenting the end they were to achieve in the
Education (the means) is based on the outcome (the
end), not the other way around.
Answers.com entry on Outcomes-based education
In teaching, which comes first?
In curriculum development, which comes first?
4. Is there a clear relationship between structure and function?
5. Does the grammar reflect actual use?
6. Does the grammar commonly occur in both spoken and written language?
Do the exercises – the teaching sequence –
mirror the language acquisition process?
Hear it before you say it.
Say it before you read it.
Read it before you write it.
Scroll down and select “Research & Methodology on the bottom left.”
The Role of Grammar in Adult ESL
An Eclectic Approach to Teaching Grammar
Choosing Grammar to Teach
The Grammar Lesson: Presentation
The Grammar Lesson: Guided Practice
The Grammar Lesson: Communicative Practice
Teacher training DVD including a module on teaching grammar communicatively.
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