Teaching GrammarAs I proceed through the TEFL course, I re-learn many of those lessons used but long since forgotten in a formal sense. The ability to reduce a sentence into various parts and tenses as it is being spoken is a difficult yet necessary teacher capability.
I also relearned how tedious and -at times- even boring the study of grammar can be. Moreover, how difficult it must be for the child learner or the new learner, particularly one who has experience with a different alphabet. That said; it’s important that teaching technique be accurate and functional to ensure the students have a solid grasp of grammar, if the language lesson is to be successful. Empowering the student by making grammar the accepted building blocks for successful learning is the first step. Using warmers and generally ‘having fun’ can assist with motivation and attention span. Making it fun -as possible- and showing the resulting capabilities brought by mastering it add confidence and support the lesson overall.
Teaching technique is varied based on a several consideration; adult students versus children, previous experience, knowledge of alphabet, etc., are all to be considered when planning lessons. As an example, adult chinese
learners need a different approach than adult European learners. In this case the reason is the existence of an alphabet. The chinese
written language is by far different that english
or European languages. Therefore, more time must be taken to teach and learn the alphabet, related phonetics, and word building for use in sentences. It’s important to have materials prepared at the appropriate level and in the appropriate manner to keep students interested in learning grammar. Games and exercises should be neutral and if possible, culturally supportive.
In relation to the overall atmosphere, cultural aspects of teaching and class dynamic are most important. Some cultures promote activity in class and pay less attention to being corrected than others. Some cultures can be quite reserved outside the classroom which makes them more reserved in the classroom. Being corrected can be a form of shame and is to be taken seriously in these cases. Individual progress can be measured on written exams if necessary.
Class dynamic is important in overall development and need be considered in the creation of a safe and fun learning environment for the students. How students interact with each other can positively or negatively affect the class overall. Students who don’t behave well together should be separated in the interest of the class. The delicate balance of control must be maintained in every ones interest. Students who work particularly well together should be allowed to do so but only if the relationship is controlled and focused on the subject matter. Again, the delicate balance of controlling the class is paramount.
Lastly, we discuss particular subject matter. It’s important to select subject matter believed to interesting and relevant to the students being addressed. Some subjects are more capable of holding students attention than others, regardless of age or culture. It may help to ensure that news or culturally related lesson plans are current, reflecting life in the world today. Of course, an exception would be any lesson plan focusing on historical information.
It’s the teachers’ responsibility to provide an engaging, informative and functional lesson platform for students of all types. Flexibility and the ability to change ‘on the fly’ are necessary. Good planning and documentation ensure that class continues should a substitute teacher be required.
References are limited to my experience and the units 1-20 of the TEFL training.