2. EDUC 1820:
American Culture & Language Institute, TESOL Certificate Program
Northern Virginia Community College
• Approaches to Teaching Grammar
– Grammar in earlier language-teaching approaches
– Contemporary views of grammar instruction
• Grammar Structure and Language Function
• Teaching Grammar Implicitly vs. Explicitly
• Put it into Practice
4. Reflection and Discussion
• When and where did you learn grammar
(English or other languages)?
– Do you remember how it was taught?
– Did learning grammar improve your fluency/ability
to use the language to communicate?
• What do you think is the most effective way to
5. Earlier Grammar Approaches
Explicit teaching of
Attention paid to
Lessons begin with
Use of visuals to
Focus on reading
unsuitable for Ss
who need rules
Minimal reading and
6. Grammar Translation Activity
• Instruction and grammar explanations occur
only in the L1.
• Production occurs through translation from L1
– Hast du mein Buch?
– Do you have my book?
7. Earlier Grammar Approaches
Emp. on oral
Use of drills to
to prevent learner
errors = reduced
8. Audiolingual Approach Activity
• Drills using target grammar.
Teacher says: TV
ELLs say: TV
Teacher: watching TV
ELLs: watching TV
Teacher: She is watching TV.
ELLs: She is watching TV.
9. Earlier Grammar Approaches
Grammar must be
taught inductively or
presented in a
Focus on input
(listening) can delay
10. Cognitive Approach Activity
• Focus on structure first: Comparatives
• Focus on memorizing irregular forms.
11. Current Grammar Approach
Communication is the
Use of authentic texts
Grammar is taught after
context is presented
(Focus on Form)
Student buy-in can
be limited initially
as there isn’t the
focus on rules first
- Savage, Bitterlin, & Price, 2010
12. Communicative Language Teaching Activity
• Dialog substitutions with photographs
– Student 1 shows a photograph & asks a question
to elicit the target grammar:
• What’s Brian doing?
– Student 2 answers the question using the same
• He’s walking his dog.
– Students switch roles after 5 turns.
– Teacher notes errors and follows up with a Focus
13. Not ALL Grammar Matters
“As teachers, we need to be aware of how the
language is changing and adjust our grammar
syllabus to reflect those changes. We should
avoid spending time on grammar that is not
- Savage, Bitterlin, & Price, 2010
14. Grammar Structure
& Language Function
• How do people in the students’ environment
actually use the grammar?
• How frequently is the grammar used?
• Does the grammar occur in all four skill
– Spoken and written grammar are different.
• Is grammar essential to conveying meaning?
15. Identify the Environments
The environment impacts the grammar we teach.
• Where do students
• With whom do they
16. Function-Based Grammar
The students’ functions impact the grammar we teach.
Describe past activities
Modals can (informal) or may
Describe future wishes
Wh/How word order
Modals should or ought to
17. Frequency of Use
The frequency of exposure to/use of English impacts
the grammar we teach.
Frequency in Speech
be going to + verb
will + verb
be + verb + -ing
18. Conveying Meaning
Teach grammar that has the greatest impact on
meaning in the mode students use most often.
Impact on Speech
Greatest Impact: Verb tenses
Past tense verbs
Present tense verbs
Future tense verbs
Smaller Impact: Third person
Verb + -s
Smallest Impact: Case
Subject: who Object: whom
If I was vs. If I were
19. Teaching Implicitly or Explicitly?
• Implicit teaching exposes ELLs to material
containing the target grammar = context.
– Helps teacher and students identify what the ELLs
• Explicit teaching exposes ELLs to grammar
without context. Assumes students do not
know the target grammar.
– Less effective at identifying what ELLs know.
20. Teaching Implicitly or Explicitly?
• Language level
– Grammar terminology doesn’t help ELLs
– It helps them talk about the structure.
• Educational background
– Have they learned grammar in their L1?
– Do ELLs use the same terminology?
21. Teaching Implicitly or Explicitly?
• Goals for studying English
– Employment or higher ed?
• Hybrid approach of implicit and explicit meets
most ELLs’ needs:
– Introduces the grammar implicitly in context
– Follows with explicit explanation/correction based
on ELLs’ production.
22. Teaching Grammar Implicitly
• Promotes fluency.
– Students view, listen to, or read material
containing the target grammar
• teacher created or student created
• photographs, podcasts, fiction/non-fiction
23. Teaching Grammar Implicitly (cont.)
– Students identify and interact with the target
Tell a story about the photograph.
Circle the past tense verbs.
Correct the past tense verb errors (orally or in writing).
Write a paragraph about your last weekend.
24. Teaching Grammar Implicitly (cont.)
• Post Task:
– Focus on Form:
• Respond to any errors created.
• Provide a clear explanation with examples from Task.
25. Put it into Practice
• Work in pairs/small groups to create a 10 min
– Focus on one grammar point.
– Consider how you will group students (pairs, small
– Consider how you will assess what students have
• Teach us!
26. Useful Sources
• Grammar Practice Activities, Ur 1988
• Teaching Grammar in Adult ESL Programs,
Savage, Bitterlin, & Price 2010