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Jo Gakonga 
Getting creative with 
grammar teaching
Why does 
teaching 
grammar get a 
bad press?
Illustrations from Jan, J.M. & Ollúa, R. (1950) El Inglés Práctico; 
Comercio, Exámenes y Viajes, Buenos Aires: Academias ...
Do we need to 
teach grammar 
at all?
Catherine Walter 
IATEFL Plenary 2011 
Should we be planning to teach grammar? 
http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2011/site...
Krashen's Input Hypothesis (1977)
"Language acquisition does not 
require extensive use of conscious 
grammatical rules” 
Stephen Krashen
"Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in 
the target language in which speakers are 
concerned not with the form of...
"The best methods are therefore those that 
supply 'comprehensible input' containing 
messages that students really want t...
"The best methods are therefore those that 
supply 'comprehensible input' containing 
messages that students really want t...
Canadian project 
1965 onwards 
French immersion schools
“Practice" is replaced by "creative 
construction”. Learners encouraged to 
experiment with linguistic forms.
Errors are not seen as bad
Canadian immersion studies 
(Swain 1985; Genesee 1987).
The result?
Immersion students often perform as 
well as native French-speaking students 
on tests of reading and listening 
comprehen...
However, they seldom achieve the same 
high levels of competence in speaking 
and writing as they achieve in 
comprehensio...
Three problems: 
Grammar is less complex and less redundant 
than that of native speakers. 
Their grammar is influenced by...
So, what…..
Of significance for 
ESOL learners
Common ground
Significant amounts of exposure 
A real need to communicate 
(Paucity of opportunity to speak?) 
Common ground
So, explicit 
teaching is 
necessary….
Do you agree? 
Why do you teach 
grammar?
Pretty much all course 
books based on it
Learners’ expectations
Seen as very traditional but…
Different / less traditional approaches 
all include grammar
Task Based Learning 
Jane and Dave Willis
Learners do task and rehearse their 
language to present to group 
Learners present what they have 
practised 
Teacher giv...
Dogme 
Luke Meddings and Scott Thornberry 
Suggests emergent language but still doesn’t 
suggest no language teaching
Do we need to 
teach grammar? 
YES!
What I am 
NOT saying…..
If we teach 
grammar, how 
should we do it?
What isn’t so helpful... 
• Teacher: I found the book. 
• Students: I found the book. 
• Teacher: Pen. 
• Students: I foun...
Example of a mindless gap fill.. 
Use the present perfect to complete these sentences: 
1. I _______ ________ (see) the Ei...
Creative Automaticity 
Gatbonton, E. and Segalowitz, N. (1988) ‘Creative automatization: Principles for 
promoting fluency...
Activities that promote creative 
automaticity should be … 
• genuinely communicative 
• focused 
• formulaic 
• inherentl...
Some common examples… 
• A class photo… 
• Find someone who… 
• What’s my line? 
• What kind of animal am I? (“Do you have...
Creativity 
Personalisation
Jill Hadfield’s ‘Creativity in the 
language classroom’ 
Modern English Teacher 
January 2012
When I am old… 
When I’m an old woman, I will wear purple 
And a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me 
And I will s...
I definitely won’t 
I’ll definitely 
I’ll 
probably 
I might 
I’ll 
I probably won’t 
I might not 
I won’t
When I am old, I won’t be quiet and I’ll bother 
my neighbours. I might have a toy-boy.
When we are old we will definitely do many 
crazy and dangerous things, 
We will wear full make up from morning and we 
wi...
When I am old, I’ll be a honarable person. 
I’ll definitely lede the people and I’ll be self-confident.
• genuinely communicative 
• focused 
• formulaic 
• inherently repetitive
Creativity 
Personalisation
Present Perfect for experience 
I’ve never been to India, 
I’ve never been to France 
I’ve never eaten frog’s legs 
And I’...
Present Perfect for experience 
I’ve never been to India, 
I’ve never been to France 
I’ve never eaten frog’s legs 
And I’...
Present Perfect for experience 
I’ve never been to India, 
I’ve never been to France 
I’ve never eaten frog’s legs 
And I’...
Present Perfect for experience 
Homework.. 
• Write your own….
I've never been in Ireland. 
But I've been in love with Irish man. 
He had a huge talant to gain women's favor, but he was...
Alan Marsh’s article… 
English Teaching Professional 
March 2012 
The Door to Spontaneity
Simple past tense questions.. 
Dates game – Did you / Were you.. 
1952 1989 
1999 2010
Also makes a great card game… 
1952 1989 
1999 2010
Simple present tense questions.. 
yes 7 
Kenya Birmingham
Present perfect questions.. 
For 2 years Since 2000 
Since last 
night 
For 15 years
Creativity 
Personalisation
Thrill Drills 
Milada Krejewska’s blog 
http://miladakrajewska.wordpress.com/
A picture 
paints a 
few 
thousand 
words….
What is inside? 
There is… 
There are…
What’s happening inside?
Someone is crying……
Creativity 
Personalisation
It could be… 
It might be.. 
It definitely isn’t…
It looks like …. 
..he has… 
..he is -ing….
It looks like …. 
..it has… ..it is -ing….
Sources of 
pictures….
What’s the story?
What are YOUR ideas for grammar 
practice?
Thank you! 
Slideshare- NATECLA 2013 
jo.gakonga@elt-training.com
Getting Creative with Grammar Teaching
Getting Creative with Grammar Teaching
Getting Creative with Grammar Teaching
Getting Creative with Grammar Teaching
Getting Creative with Grammar Teaching
Getting Creative with Grammar Teaching
Getting Creative with Grammar Teaching
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Getting Creative with Grammar Teaching

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Talk at Newham College

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Getting Creative with Grammar Teaching

  1. 1. Jo Gakonga Getting creative with grammar teaching
  2. 2. Why does teaching grammar get a bad press?
  3. 3. Illustrations from Jan, J.M. & Ollúa, R. (1950) El Inglés Práctico; Comercio, Exámenes y Viajes, Buenos Aires: Academias Pitman.
  4. 4. Do we need to teach grammar at all?
  5. 5. Catherine Walter IATEFL Plenary 2011 Should we be planning to teach grammar? http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2011/sites/iatefl/files/session /documents/walter_grammar_iatefl2011_handout.pdf
  6. 6. Krashen's Input Hypothesis (1977)
  7. 7. "Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules” Stephen Krashen
  8. 8. "Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding."
  9. 9. "The best methods are therefore those that supply 'comprehensible input' containing messages that students really want to hear.”
  10. 10. "The best methods are therefore those that supply 'comprehensible input' containing messages that students really want to hear.” i + 1
  11. 11. Canadian project 1965 onwards French immersion schools
  12. 12. “Practice" is replaced by "creative construction”. Learners encouraged to experiment with linguistic forms.
  13. 13. Errors are not seen as bad
  14. 14. Canadian immersion studies (Swain 1985; Genesee 1987).
  15. 15. The result?
  16. 16. Immersion students often perform as well as native French-speaking students on tests of reading and listening comprehension in French.
  17. 17. However, they seldom achieve the same high levels of competence in speaking and writing as they achieve in comprehension.
  18. 18. Three problems: Grammar is less complex and less redundant than that of native speakers. Their grammar is influenced by English grammar. Their use of language is often non-idiomatic
  19. 19. So, what…..
  20. 20. Of significance for ESOL learners
  21. 21. Common ground
  22. 22. Significant amounts of exposure A real need to communicate (Paucity of opportunity to speak?) Common ground
  23. 23. So, explicit teaching is necessary….
  24. 24. Do you agree? Why do you teach grammar?
  25. 25. Pretty much all course books based on it
  26. 26. Learners’ expectations
  27. 27. Seen as very traditional but…
  28. 28. Different / less traditional approaches all include grammar
  29. 29. Task Based Learning Jane and Dave Willis
  30. 30. Learners do task and rehearse their language to present to group Learners present what they have practised Teacher gives input on the ‘gap’.
  31. 31. Dogme Luke Meddings and Scott Thornberry Suggests emergent language but still doesn’t suggest no language teaching
  32. 32. Do we need to teach grammar? YES!
  33. 33. What I am NOT saying…..
  34. 34. If we teach grammar, how should we do it?
  35. 35. What isn’t so helpful... • Teacher: I found the book. • Students: I found the book. • Teacher: Pen. • Students: I found the pen. • Teacher: Bought. • Students: I bought the pen.
  36. 36. Example of a mindless gap fill.. Use the present perfect to complete these sentences: 1. I _______ ________ (see) the Eiffel Tower. 2. She ________ _________ (eat) snake. 3. They ________ __________ (swim) in the sea. 4. We ________ _________ (fill) in too many of these gap-fill exercises………
  37. 37. Creative Automaticity Gatbonton, E. and Segalowitz, N. (1988) ‘Creative automatization: Principles for promoting fluency within a communicative framework’, TESOL Quarterly, 22, 3. ‘The techniques for this approach are designed to provide students with ample opportunities for repetition and practice within a wholly communicative context, without the shortcomings usually characteristic of pattern drills or other more traditional methods’ http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/?s=A+is+for
  38. 38. Activities that promote creative automaticity should be … • genuinely communicative • focused • formulaic • inherently repetitive
  39. 39. Some common examples… • A class photo… • Find someone who… • What’s my line? • What kind of animal am I? (“Do you have four legs? Can you fly? Do you lay eggs?” etc).
  40. 40. Creativity Personalisation
  41. 41. Jill Hadfield’s ‘Creativity in the language classroom’ Modern English Teacher January 2012
  42. 42. When I am old… When I’m an old woman, I will wear purple And a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me And I will spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves and candles, and say we have no money for butter. I will sit down on the pavement when I am tired And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells And run my stick along public railings And make up for the sobriety of my youth. I will go out in slippers in the rain And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens And learn to spit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr1RU4SM2L8
  43. 43. I definitely won’t I’ll definitely I’ll probably I might I’ll I probably won’t I might not I won’t
  44. 44. When I am old, I won’t be quiet and I’ll bother my neighbours. I might have a toy-boy.
  45. 45. When we are old we will definitely do many crazy and dangerous things, We will wear full make up from morning and we will spend our money for a face lift.
  46. 46. When I am old, I’ll be a honarable person. I’ll definitely lede the people and I’ll be self-confident.
  47. 47. • genuinely communicative • focused • formulaic • inherently repetitive
  48. 48. Creativity Personalisation
  49. 49. Present Perfect for experience I’ve never been to India, I’ve never been to France I’ve never eaten frog’s legs And I’ve never learnt to dance. I’ve always lived in Birmingham I’ve never been abroad I’ve always lived at home I’m getting rather bored. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv7-yCYnAg0
  50. 50. Present Perfect for experience I’ve never been to India, I’ve never been to France I’ve never eaten frog’s legs And I’ve never learnt to dance. I’ve always lived in Birmingham I’ve never been abroad I’ve always lived at home I’m getting rather bored. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbqXAwpAtLY
  51. 51. Present Perfect for experience I’ve never been to India, I’ve never been to France I’ve never eaten frog’s legs And I’ve never learnt to dance. I’ve always lived in Birmingham I’ve never been abroad I’ve always lived at home I’m getting rather bored. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbqXAwpAtLY
  52. 52. Present Perfect for experience Homework.. • Write your own….
  53. 53. I've never been in Ireland. But I've been in love with Irish man. He had a huge talant to gain women's favor, but he was so mean. He inculcated in me a taste for art and love for adventure. Our love story was bright and unforgettable, but it finished with a phrase "I'm sorry". At parting he gave me a kiss with an fragrant of Irish legend. I've never been in Italy. But I've been in love with Italian. He's been very clever, he's known many languages, but he's been so nervous and so fault-finding person. Well, we let as part friends. He gave me as a keepsake the 33 recipes for Italian pasta and one recipe for happiness.
  54. 54. Alan Marsh’s article… English Teaching Professional March 2012 The Door to Spontaneity
  55. 55. Simple past tense questions.. Dates game – Did you / Were you.. 1952 1989 1999 2010
  56. 56. Also makes a great card game… 1952 1989 1999 2010
  57. 57. Simple present tense questions.. yes 7 Kenya Birmingham
  58. 58. Present perfect questions.. For 2 years Since 2000 Since last night For 15 years
  59. 59. Creativity Personalisation
  60. 60. Thrill Drills Milada Krejewska’s blog http://miladakrajewska.wordpress.com/
  61. 61. A picture paints a few thousand words….
  62. 62. What is inside? There is… There are…
  63. 63. What’s happening inside?
  64. 64. Someone is crying……
  65. 65. Creativity Personalisation
  66. 66. It could be… It might be.. It definitely isn’t…
  67. 67. It looks like …. ..he has… ..he is -ing….
  68. 68. It looks like …. ..it has… ..it is -ing….
  69. 69. Sources of pictures….
  70. 70. What’s the story?
  71. 71. What are YOUR ideas for grammar practice?
  72. 72. Thank you! Slideshare- NATECLA 2013 jo.gakonga@elt-training.com

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