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Joanna Superson, 2019-05-15
Język angielski, Plany metodyczne
CONVENTIONAL AND NON-CONVENTIONAL TECHNIQUES OF TEACHING GRAMMAR TO TEENAGERS
CONVENTIONAL AND NON-CONVENTIONAL TECHNIQUES OF TEACHING GRAMMAR TO TEENAGERS
This chapter presents conventional and non-conventional techniques of teaching grammar to teenagers. It underlines how crucial it is to replace conventional techniques with non-conventional ones in order to expand students’ knowledge and encourage them to be more willing to learn on their own. The techniques introduced in this chapter can be used during a grammar lesson in order to make it effective and beneficial. Techniques should be changed in order to interest students and show them other possibilities how to learn grammar.
2.1. Teaching grammar
The role of grammar has been addressed in a number of linguistic theories and methodologies. Thornbury comments that “grammar is partly the study of what forms (or structures) are possible in a language” (Thornbury 1999: 1). In his opinion grammar is a description of the rules that are needed to form sentences. It is also the study of syntax and morphology. Shortly, grammar is the study of not only the way words are chained together but also “of what kinds of words can slot into any one link in the chain” (Thornbury 1999: 2). There are two contrasted approaches in teaching grammar. Which kind will be used by a teacher depends on students’ time spent on language learning and the need to expand their knowledge (Harmer 2007: 81).
In the inductive approach, students are given “examples of language and they try to find out the rules” (Harmer 2007: 82). While teaching grammar a teacher’s task is to show a great deal of exercises presenting certain ideas. A good way is not to introduce concepts or usages of patterns but to make students ready to spot the ideas and emphasize grammar structures. To sum up the activity, students might be asked to explain these structures. In this way, the teacher has an opportunity to check their knowledge of the concept (Harmer 2007: 82).
Deductive reasoning works the opposite way. A teacher explains grammar rules to students, then on the basis of those “explanations or rules they make phrases and sentences”. In other words, the grammar rules are given and examples follow up to apply new knowledge. Exceptions to each rule are also presented. Learners have to drill material given in sentences (Harmer 2007: 81).
2.2. Conventional techniques of teaching grammar
Teachers are used to applying conventional techniques on a daily basis in their everyday learning process. They adjust them to the material to be introduced during lessons. Educators tend to choose conventional methods as they are more convenient and less time consuming in preparation.
Students are given different sentences with blanks. They have to fill-in-the-gaps with new vocabulary or with items of particular grammar type, such as prepositions, modal verbs, tenses. All of them are given in the target language. Furthermore, “no explicit grammar rule would be applied. Students would have induced the grammar rule they need to fill-in-the-blanks from examples and practice with earlier parts of lesson” (Larsen-Freeman 1986: 27).
2.2.2. Repetition drills
Drills are aimed at fast practice. They are often done with the whole class and learners are given sentences with a new grammatical item and asked for the right repetition as precisely and as quickly as possible. Students’ repetition is a part of a controlled practice phase of the lesson sequence. They repeat and practice the material given to them as long as it is takes to be able to say it in the right way. Learners have to repeat source material, for example words, phrases or dialogues more than once. The main aim of drills is to support students to acquire grammar to the point of being able to use it immediately (Harmer 2007: 85-86).
Another option of drilling is using a structural item, so-called cue-response drill. “Cue response-drills are helpful when students have to practice questions and answers” (Harmer 2012: 109). The next point is that the speed of drilling is crucial for achieving success. Students may master their grammar to make their language more fluent by echoing and inculcating sentences created by other students. They have to process this material in their heads only to the extent to which it is necessary to recreate. Following this way, students perform a lot of decisions, choose the idea, the vocabulary and adjust elements to fit the whole. The benefit is that the teacher may give students feedback, correct any mistakes and encourage learners to concentrate on their avoiding them (see Harmer 2012).
2.2.3. Backward build-up drills
Backward build-up drills are applied when students have trouble with some line of a text or a dialogue. In this case the teacher has to break down this line into a few parts. Learners repeat this part of the sentence, mostly the last phrase. They follow their teacher’s cue. They also expand what they repeat. They have to practice it until they are able to say the whole line again. The teacher starts with the part at the end of the sentence to keep the rhythm as natural as possible (Larsen-Freeman 1986: 45-46).
2.2.4. Transformation drills
Students are given some sentences and they are asked to transform them. For instance, an affirmative sentence into a negative one, a statement into a question, an active sentence into a passive one and direct speech into reported speech or vice versa (Larsen-Freeman 1986: 47). Drilling might seem to be boring and useless for brilliant students, but for the less skilled ones it provides a comfortable source for revising.
2.2.5. Question and answer drills
In this conventional technique of teaching grammar learners practice making questions. They have to do it as fast as possible. Students “practice with the question patterns” (Larsen-Freeman 1986: 47). This technique is quite limited and can be applied only with young learners who enjoy following and repeating someone’s words. It also takes a lot of time, therefore it cannot be introduced too often so as not to ruin their interest and involvement.
2.2.6. Teaching through texts
Students listen or read texts and through them they recognize new vocabulary and they obtain grammar rules. Texts may take many forms namely: books, newspapers, postcards, street signs or instructions (see Thornbury 1999). Using realia enhances the level of interest as it is genuine and triggers interaction between students. Also reading authentic materials gives an impression of being native speakers-like.
2.2.7. Chain drills
This technique allows learners to ask and answer questions one-by-one. A teacher asks a question to a particular student. That student answers it, then turns to the student sitting next to him/her. The first student also asks questions to the second student and the chain proceeds. The chain drill allows students to practice their grammar structures and communication. Thanks to this the teacher has the opportunity to check each student’s grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary (Larsen-Freeman 1986: 46).
2.3. Non-conventional techniques of teaching grammar
Non-conventional techniques might create students’ autonomy and independence and they may decide whether or not to apply them. Teachers should present the possibility of using them during lessons and estimate what a good activity should be like. Therefore, a good non-conventional technique should posses the following characteristics: be encouraging, involve the whole class, have clear comprehensible procedures, be easy to perform and organize, be competitive, have a pedagogic purpose, not last for too long.
The great value of music may be really motivating in order to engage students to learn English and enhance their involvement. It provides memorable and encouraging ways of working with the language. Both students and teachers find music relaxing and entertaining. Music also offers a change from basic procedures during the lessons. It is an invaluable tool to develop learners’ language abilities. Teaching students through music practically ensures pleasant and friendly mood. Learning English through lyrics provides tranquillizing atmosphere for students who may be stressed out when they speak English in a formal classroom setting (the Internet 4).
Songs are one of the resources used commonly in teaching languages. They might help to change the classroom routine activities. There are a great number of possibilities to develop learners skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Songs can be used to provide different language structures and patterns (the Internet 7).
We can use songs in many approaches:
• Students may talk about songs to their classmates and describe which one is very important and special to them and why. This activity encourages students to communicate and they may practice their grammar and speaking skills using structures such as : I like.., I prefer….to…,I believe…. .
• Learners might discuss which five special songs they would take on a desert island, on their journey or cruise and why.
• Students can also play with the music. They have to say for example: what kind of mood it describes or who they would like to listen to it with.
• Teachers may show students the film and ask them to describe what kind of music will be the most suitable for this film and why. Then students watch that scene and check whether they were right (see Harmer 2012: 142). By using music we may motivate or engage students. On the other hand, we have to remember that not every student likes music or singing. Fortunately, teenage music haters are scarce. Jeremy Harmer also maintains that “we can find the wide range of songs with that specific piece of grammar or lexical chunk ” (Harmer 2012: 142).
Games are certainly the most interesting and encouraging way to practice grammar rules. Through well-prepared games, students may exercise and learn language items and structures widely. Games are enjoyable and reduce stress and due to their valuable communicative practice. Games should be used as often as possible. They offer a wide variety of interesting activities and students find them pleasant and simple to learn while playing. Some games are designed to get learners to drill a grammar point within a context. In this way students have opportunities to express themselves (the Internet 7).
Generally, games may be one of the fundamental learning actions in teaching languages. They make lessons refreshing and ideal for practicing students’ skills. What is more, students learn grammar rules, practice pronunciation and drill vocabulary not being aware of it. Games are a serious tool by which teachers can built interesting activities. A wide variety of games give learners a lot of benefits (see Harmer 2012).
One of the games is the “Twenty Questions Game”. According to Harmer, it is a spoken game which encourages students to play with others and helps them become more creative. “The students have to find out what a mystery object is by asking twenty questions” (Harmer 2012: 113). In other words, one student is pointed out to give the answer. He or she may choose the item (object) but does not tell other classmates what it is. All other students ask Yes/No questions in turns (see Harmer 2012).
The next game is the “Mystery description”. It is the game where learners have to create sentences describing a mystery object using varied grammar structures such as: the passive: It is made of…, It is used for The number of sentences depends on their guesses about the mystery object (see Harmer 2012).
“Charades”, however, is the game where the players must take turns to act out the words, phrases, titles of books, songs, films, often by miming similar-sounding words, and the other players have to guess them. Students have to find out what it is by asking questions. The idea is to use the physical rather than verbal language (Harmer 2012: 113).
While playing “Taboo” the teacher divides students into two teams. A student from the first team draws a card. A student from the second team serves as so called the monitor. The student holding the card has to say clues (words only) to help his or her team find out the word at the top of the card within 30 seconds. They must use five words. The monitor looks at the card and checks whether or not the player describing the clues uses any of the illegal words. If one of the words is said, the monitor should call it. The card is discarded, and the turn is lost. The game is won by the team which collects the greatest number of points (the Internet 5).
According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a quiz is “a short spoken or written test that is often taken without preparation”. In other words “a set of questions about a particular subject that people try to answer as a game or competition” (the Internet 6: 1). They may provide entertainment and give plenty of practice at the same time. Quizzes give students and teachers improvement feedback.
Films, like other non-conventional techniques may make students learn grammar rules almost effortlessly. They include a series of activities to practice and learn grammar through fun and challenging exercises. These phrases can be enumerated accordingly.
Phase One − before watching: this phase can contain a few warm-up questions introducing the topic to follow or a matching exercise.
Phase Two − while watching: while watching the film students can either fill in the blanks with some missing information or provide True or False answers.
Phase Three − after watching: usually this phase involves discussion or role plying activities.
Role-playing is essential in teaching students not only communication skills but also grammar rules and different categories of communicative function. Students learn their parts and certainly they drill grammar rules (the Internet 6). A teacher’s duty is to monitor role-play actions in pairs or groups, which should prevent them from extensive using of their native language during the time of preparation. Learners also get feedback on any of its relevant aspects including error correction and whether they have effectively communicated using suitable grammar rules. They may finally stage the play as a reward.
2.3.5. The Internet
The Internet is a brilliant source of unlimited possibilities of authentic input for students. The Internet, through such services as: Skype, Facebook, Google, gives students the opportunity to expand their knowledge and be in touch with their teacher or friends from other cities and countries. Through the use of some sites teachers may create an online class with new material that might be used by students at any time. Students do activities and drill vocabulary, grammar rules. What is more, their progress is checked by the software giving teachers adequate feedback. Learners can also use software to create their own activities and participate in their own learning process by setting their goals, choosing materials, designing activities, and evaluating their knowledge. Thus, they may achieve different degrees of autonomy and independence (see Benson and Voller 1997).
Poems may be used to teach and reinforce grammar points and language structures. Poetry also promotes language acquisition and provides effective and collaborative elements of language learning and personal expression. They may expand learners’ creativity, awareness and bring the use of the rhythm into the language classroom (the Internet 8). Therefore, it suggests that a broader perspective on the use of writing (Haiku or pattern poems) in the language classroom lead to meaningful and successful language learning. Students may create something enjoyable on their own by using poetry frames. A teacher can introduce “acrostic poems”, where students write or say a vertical word on the left-hand side of the page. Each page has to begin with a letter of the word. Teachers can involve students in interactive and rewarding grammar drills by designing pattern poems which focus on a particular aspect of grammar structures or syntax (Harmer 2012: 14).
The aim of chapter 2 was to discuss conventional and non-conventional techniques of teaching grammar. First, the conventional techniques are described, such as: “Fill- in-the-blanks”, “Repetition drills”, “Backward build up drills”, “Transformation drills”, “Question and answer drills”, “Teaching through text” and “Chain drills”. Those techniques are used very often by teachers who focus on theory rather than practice. This chapter also shows that teaching grammar structures, rules and patterns may be supported through non-conventional techniques via applying songs, games, films, the Internet, and role playing. They offer positive emotions and friendly environment for learning. In addition, they might encourage learners to participate more actively in the learning process.
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