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Grammar doesn't deal only with sentences but also with smaller units from phrases down to individual words. This is easy to understand when considering the correct use of "he ran a race" versus the incorrect use of "he runned a race." Grammar can also include the changing of spelling and pronunciation in different situations.
Grammatical structures deal with specific instances in a language, such as tenses or gender. These structures provide in-depth information and lend nuances and time value to a language. In English, the grammatical concept of gender doesn't exist as opposed to Italian, German and French, which have specific rules concerning grammar and gender.
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Grammar affects meaning, so incorrect grammar can lead to confusion. Despite this, a lot of ESL teachers argue that accuracy of form is more important than grammatical accuracy because it is difficult to teach. Unfortunately, a phrase that has been misunderstood can have a potentially disastrous or humorous effect on a situation, so ESL students need to learn grammar to put words together meaningfully. In the end, knowledge of a language is virtually useless if students can't convey meaning.
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Presenting and Explaining Grammar
Generally, if a student's native language has a rigid grammatical structure, he or she will expect a teacher to explain the English equivalents of his language. To do this, a teacher needs to understand, himself, what is involved in the structures being taught; must give clear examples and explanations; and must find a balance between accuracy and simplicity in examples. A teacher who knows how to present a structure's form and meaning in a simple, accurate and helpful way is guaranteed to get the message across.
Bright Hub Education has published many articles with tips for teaching specific parts of speech:
As you browse through these recommended selections, you will find links to others that will also be useful.
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Tips and Guidelines in Teaching ESL Grammar
A well-prepared lesson plan is essential for teaching grammar. It should include oral and written examples as well as form, meaning and context use. Other tips for teaching ESL grammar include:
- Students must have plenty of examples of the structure and understand when and how to use it
- Explanations must cover the majority of instances because students are sure to encounter exceptions along the way
- Too much detail confuses students so explanations must be simple and clear
- Generalization is helpful even if it's not always completely accurate
- Rhyming rules like "i before e, except after c" can be a fun and easy way to remember a rule, even if they aren't absolutely true
- Students need to experiment by rearranging sentences and playing with them to get a feel for the language
- Students must be given the essential rules and guidelines and shouldn't have to guess
- Role-playing and language games can be fun and give students the opportunity to use a grammatical structure practically
Grammar may be difficult and boring to teach. However, if a teacher understands the grammatical concepts, is capable of explaining grammar and its structures clearly and simply, follows up with appropriate games, exercises and role-playing activities, he will be creating a context for fun and interesting ESL grammar lessons.
- EnglishClub.com: What Is Grammar?
- TEFL FRANCE Savoie, TEFL Certificate Course Manual, France, 2009.