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A good grammar presentation



Is a surprise

As strange as it might seem, a disbelieving look, a "No, really??" or most of the class getting what you are trying to elicit wrong are all good signs in a grammar explanation- signs that you have really got their attention, that you are teaching them something they don't know yet, and that it is something they are likely to be something they are still thinking about when they leave class and so remember for a longer time than usual. Ways to achieve this sense of surprise include contradicting their previous teacher or lower level textbook, contrasting with L1, contrasting spoken and written English grammar, and contrasting prescriptive grammar and how the language is really used nowadays. Something turning out to be much easier than they originally thought is also a nice surprise!


Is interactive

Ways of getting students involved in the grammar explanation stage include: getting them to give you example sentences from their imaginations, previous conversations or the textbook; eliciting the names of grammatical forms; getting them to match grammatical names, example sentences and meanings; getting students to prepare grammar presentations for the class for homework; using guided discovery tasks they work through in pairs; and deliberately making mistakes they can correct you on.


Is copied down

After a student has understood your grammar explanation, the next stage should be copying it down. You can ensure that everyone has a chance to copy it down accurately by having the pause for copying written into your lesson plan, making sure nobody copies before you want them to so that they join in the eliciting and don't make others feel guilty for copying down later, and putting your OHP sheets etc somewhere students can see them after class to compare their own versions to.


Is easy to copy down

You can make this easier by putting all the text on the board into a table (e.g. 3 columns for tense, example sentence and meaning, and three rows for the three past tenses), using very simple time lines and sketches, limiting the amount of text, and giving them a gapped version of the grammar presentation to copy the important things off the board into.


Can be easily referred to

As well as something that is easy to understand and easy to copy down, you will want to make sure that the grammar explanation is something that the students and teacher can easily refer to during later grammar practice and error correction stages. To achieve this you will need to make sure that the grammar explained is exactly the same as is used later in the lesson. You can also make it easy to refer to by keeping it up on the board (in which case you will need to make sure when you write it that there is room around it to write other things that come up), saving it as an OHP slide you can put up when you need it, or by making students write it in a separate grammar

You can make sure they are alert by making the grammar explanation near the beginning of the lesson. lots of revision and seeing the language in context might put the grammar explanation right in the middle of the class when students are least alert. Is at the right time in the lesson There are two parts to thinking about this.making sure the students are alert enough when the grammar explanation comes to understand it and remember it.part of their notebooks. with the middle being the worst. do you want to introduce the grammar point after the students have had a chance to use a task or text where it could be used and so know why they need the language. The end of the lesson is the second most alert period. 8. Stays up on the board This point is mainly just one aspect of the points above. or by asking them to do a task where the language could be useful first as in TTT and some versions of TBA. with the second most alert time being in other parts of the morning. or will they feel "safer" if you introduce it from the start? Do you want to tackle it after revising the most recent or most similar grammar point. . 7. Is at the right point in the day Similar to being at the right point in the lesson. You can add to this alertness by making them need the grammar by getting them used to a lesson structure where practice always follows a grammar explanation. For example. and making sure that it fits in with the rest of the lesson. or for sentences from the homework. 10. perhaps after a quick warmer. or is there the chance you will get bogged down in that and not be able to concentrate on the new point? Which stage of the lesson grammar explanations come in can often be a compromise with the timing of the lesson in other ways. Is actually referred to The easiest way of making sure that students actually do refer to the grammar presentation later in the lesson is to make some of the answers to the exercises you have given them exactly the same words as you used in the grammar explanation. You can also encourage its use by getting students to refer back to it every time you do error correction on that grammar point in future lessons. For example. but you will also need to make sure that at least part of the grammar presentation can stay up on the board without giving too much away. Is at the right stage of the lesson This depends very much on what your teaching approach is and on the specific grammar point. students are usually most alert first thing in the morning. The same thing can also be done with useful phrases for communicative activities. 9. 6.for example by erasing key words from the example sentences so they can't copy the whole of the next grammar exercise straight from the board or by briefly making it unavailable with paper stuck over it with magnets or sellotape or by turning off the OHP. the next being late in the evening and the least alert period being in the hour or two after lunch.

Comes at the right interval since the last connected grammar explanation Another factor worth bearing in mind when putting grammar into a syllabus is how long it will take students to really absorb a grammar point and therefore be ready for the next step with it. for a particularly difficult or important grammar point the beginning and end are good and the middle is bad in terms of alertness. For example. Is at the right point in the course Ditto. This is often connected to the idea of Natural Order (the theory that both L1 and L2 language learners make progress with grammar points in a predictable fashion). 12. 15. students might just need a bit of a rest for their brains after even a totally unrelated grammar or even vocabulary explanation in order to make sure they have a clear space in their heads and the energy for the next grammar explanation. and if possible the same thing should be revised right at the end of the course after the rest of the less troublesome points. 13. they will still make errors with the Present Simple. and how you compromise between the two can depend on things like how likely the students are to actually use that grammar outside the classroom. and how much they will need their confidence boosted with easier points before tackling something big.g. A particularly big. Is at the right point in their language development The difficulty of choosing to tackle a grammar point just by when the students are most alert is that their brains still might not be ready to take that particular grammar point in.11. 14. use it in conversation and/ or see it in context before they will benefit from more conscious examination of this or a related grammar point (e. difficult or important grammar point should be dealt with near the beginning of a course when the students are still keen and unconfused by other input. will for predictions or the second conditional). the theory of Natural Order suggests that however much time and help we give students. At the same time. so we shouldn't get stalled on that before we move onto forms we can contrast it with like the Simple Past or Present Continuous just because they are still making mistakes. Is at the right point in the week Similar to the points above. Ways of giving them a rest . This factor can both shorten and lengthen the amount of time you wait. how possible it is to explain the grammar without studying more "basic" forms first. Comes at the right interval since the last unconnected grammar explanation As well as needing time to absorb the last connected or contrasting grammar point. but sometimes is more just simple logic of whether it is easier to explain the use of will for predictions before or after teaching the use of will for conditionals. students might be able to produce the first conditional at the end of the lesson but for them to really get a subconscious feeling for what it means and how it is used they will probably need at least another couple of weeks of chances to mull on it. but you will also need to take into account having a chance to practice it enough before they forget it all over the weekend. This approach of putting the most important grammar first often doesn't match with a step by step approach to grammar.

Includes revision This could be revision of the form you are contrasting it with (e. something that is obvious to students straightaway as something they can use inside or outside the classroom. state verbs when presenting the continuous) and extra meanings (e. This can be defined by what they need for their work or studies.g. and other kinds of revision.whilst still improving their English include mechanical tasks like drilling."). revision of the grammatical forms it is similar to (e. what they need in order to be ready for the next grammar point. so that they can write it all down in their notebooks and there is plenty of time for practice.. what they need to catch up with the better students in this class. Possible back up points include exceptions (e. even better. Is for the most useful language at that point As well as looking at what language students are mentally ready to learn. Going to when presenting Will). popular songs or station announcements in English). what they need to be able to understand classroom instructions. Present Continuous or Past Continuous when presenting Future Continuous).g.g. or revision of a different meaning of the same form (Present Continuous for Present and Future). what they need in order to cope with the next class they are going to go into. what they need for an EFL or other exam. 19. 20. Is something students understand the need for A teacher who has decided a particular grammar point is what students need will also need to make sure that students identify that need. we also need to look at what language they need. by doing a communicative activity where that grammar would be useful before you present it.g. . or. fluency tasks where they can use the language they already know. Is the right length This usually means short. 17.g. skills development like reading and listening. 16. Present Simple when the word makes something true in "I name this ship" or "I do solemnly swear). This can be achieved by some explanation from the teacher ("With this grammar you will be able to. what they need in order to understand important functional language (e. grammar presentations can be too short. Gives the students something new One of the biggest criticisms of PPP is that the teacher often ends up presenting language that the students already know. Can for ability leading onto Can for requests). relative clauses for talking your way around a word you don't know). what they need in order to use a particular communicative skill (e.g. Sometimes. or what they need in order to benefit from English that is all around them (e. however. You can make sure that you are adding something new by gauging what students know as you elicit from them and then add one of the extra back up points you have prepared just in case. 18. You might need to plan for extra example sentences if they don't understand the ones you have chosen and/ or an extra little tricky bit of that grammar if they knew all the rest of it before you started the presentation..g. what they need in order to boost their motivation.

which as mentioned in a point above should be something that is in at least part new to them. the best way of achieving this is to give them a task where certain grammar is necessary to complete it.21. 24. starting a grammar presentation with a collection of real student mistakes from that class is great for getting their attention. always exactly the same hand positions to illustrate each preposition etc. then that is the ultimate sign that you have planned the lesson perfectly. It is very difficult to design a free communication task where particular language is absolutely vital. Perhaps the most effective is to start with a statement that what they thought about the grammar before is (at least in part) wrong. Gives the students a sense of anticipation From your own experience of being taught grammar at school. There are. students asking (or at least wanting to know) rather than just one student. The secret. the layout of board (you always use tables and the right column is always the meaning of the grammar etc). and gestures (hand over the shoulder to illustrate "past". As with anything students do unguided by a teacher. Another is to give them a spoken or written task they cannot achieve properly without the grammar and let them try it again after your explanation. 22. and research suggests that at least some of your students will be perfectly happy with having dealt with such a task in pidgin English and so will be unlikely to listen carefully to any further explanation. then. Uses a familiar format In order to make sure that students can concentrate on the grammar being explained rather than the explanation itself. or pairwork tasks where students try to achieve a language-based task together. Things to standardize include the colours of pens (red= name of tense etc). Examples of the latter include grammar auctions and pairwork grammar correction tasks where one student has the correct version for each pair of sentences. 23. it is good to develop a familiar format of grammar explanations so that students instantly understand (consciously or unconsciously) what each part of your explanation means. Is something the students want to use straightaway Another advantage of giving students a task that stops half way through or comes to an unsuccessful end until they get the grammar is that they are likely to want to turn straight back to the task at hand and finish it off successfully with their new knowledge. If more than one student asks for the same grammar explanation. i. One is to make sure that something about the grammar explanation is completely new to them (see other points). however. is to design an activity where it comes to an end without a successful outcome without the language you are about to present.). plenty of techniques to ensure that. the use of names and symbols (writing out "noun" or "subject verb" in full or just using first letters etc. so this is generally easier with a comprehension question that most people will get wrong because of grammatical reasons (sometimes available in EFL exams like IELTS and TOEIC).) . Again. it might seem unrealistic that a class of students could be on the edge of their seats waiting to see how a grammar explanation turns out. The important thing to aim for is the letter ‘s'. this is likely to increase how much they learn. Please note that many tasks in textbooks and communication games books are perfectly doable with much lower level language than the level of the book.e. In a similar way. Is asked for by the students This is an example of the point above.

29. 27. jobs or studies. Ways of personalising the language include statements about individuals in the class ("William is next to John"). national holiday etc. word and sentence stress. as an example sentence. and right and wrong answers. pointing forward = future). or statements about the class as a whole ("Most people live in a flat"). weather. and can be easier to copy down and recall than the part of the grammar explanation that has words. This can be done systematically in steps so that they gain the ability to understand more and more difficult grammar explanations (moving from labelling just SVO to labelling the adverb. Is topical Another way to make any language stick in the mind is to make it connected to the particular time and day it is being explained on. most common mistakes. making sure the example sentences used in grammar explanations are personalised to the students can really help them understand more easily. noun. celebrity gossip. simple stick man drawings and using flashcards. This can be achieved by using gestures to illustrate grammatical forms (e. seasonal changes. In a similar way to using a striking picture. Another way of looking at personalisation is telling students that the language covered is aimed particularly at their weaknesses. Breaks the format Once you have set up a format. statements about the teacher ("He is wearing a pink tie"). caters well to students who have a visual learning style. it becomes time to break it. upcoming test.g. time lines. and make the language more memorable and obviously useful. Is visual This makes a grammar explanation catch the eye more. natural events. new technology etc. allows you to approach the same grammar for several different directions. Is active This can partly be a case of getting the students involved by asking you questions or joining in when you are eliciting.) 26. many people find they can then help recall the relevant grammar point by bring back to mind the time it was explained. pronoun etc. Probably the most effective way of using pictures is to have a striking and memorable image such as a famous TV commercial or painting that the whole lesson is built around and students can use to recall the grammar point by picturing the image.) or just to add a bit of variety to get their attention (the use of amusing pictures. and partly a case of making sure the physical movement and noise you can easily build into a warmer doesn't die to be replaced by still bodies staring blankly at the board when this stage comes. Other techniques involving a visual element include the use of different colour pens to mean different things. example sentences ("I was jumping when you shouted stop"). 28. cuts down on the amount of difficult language you need to explain the grammar. Is personalized As with many things in language learning.25. Ways of making it topical include using recent news. .

Is linked in theme to the rest of the class . school system or dictionaries. Teaching grammar in context is also important. personalised and topical above can all really help with making a grammar explanation and therefore the grammar you are explaining more memorable. 34. how difficult it is to achieve in practice is quite complex. The same is true of grammatical terminology such as the names of types of words and the names of tenses. many students know SVO without knowing the words Subject Verb Object. 31. Is easy to reproduce As well as being easy to copy down. You may also find that the grammatical explanation that explains the language you are going to cover in the most generalizable way contradicts something you said in a previous lesson. 33. a grammatical explanation should be something that students can easily repeat back to you when it comes to eliciting an explanation of the same grammar point for revision or to contrast it with another grammatical form. A practical way of working your way through this minefield is to choose lots of grammar explanations for the point you are going to teach and then to put them in order of how generally true they are. or that there is still a gap between what most people say and what most people think you should say. You can also simplify this point by using grammatical jargon that is most similar to that used in the students' first language. The use of humour and making sure you connect the grammar to things the students already know can also help a lot.30. and the same is true of dictionary abbreviations such as (n) for noun and (adj) for adjective. physical. 32. For example. It is also possible that grammar experts don't even agree on what the truest explanation is. easiest to remember or easiest to copy down. for example because it will need to include lots of exceptions. Other tips relevant to this dealt with elsewhere include making sure students are awake and ready to take it in. Is easy to understand Ways of ensuring this include the use of gestures and visuals. Is memorable The tips about being visual. It might also be the case that the theory that students are mentally prepared to learn and that covers the most important uses for them is not the same as the most strictly correct definition of a grammar point. so they can use those words the same way you do next time you ask them to correct their own or their partner's mistakes. you can make the grammatical terminology more memorable by explaining why an adverb is called an adverb and what the Simple in Present Simple means. but you will need to make sure that you introduce even these simple techniques for the first time during easy grammar explanations and that you use the same ones consistently. The first problem is that the most accurate grammatical explanation is probably not the easiest to understand. For example. Is true Although this one is very obvious. You can then reject or change the explanations by how well they fit in with the level and needs of your students until there is only the one or two best compromise explanations left.

and copying the grammar presentation of another teacher you have observed. Looks at the grammar in a different way As well as adding a little something to the understanding of the students each time they see the same point. or GTKY (getting to know you) tasks at the beginning of the course at the next level up. but can make everything dealt with in that lesson sit together as one memory in students' heads and so make recall easier. use student mistakes from a previous speaking exercise. explaining "going to" as "a plan i. dealing with the stages of a grammar lesson in a different way (e. something in your head" in today's lesson can help explain Present Continuous as "something in your diary" when you introduce it in next week's lesson 37. 36. project work. Methods include combining grammar points in unusual ways (e. 38. end of term student presentations. You can consciously use this effect in future classes by eliciting error correction with comments like "What was happening when the Italian waiter Paolo came into the room? Can you remember?" 35.").g. looking at the same grammar in a totally different way in the hope that is suddenly clicks in a different part of their brain is always worth a try to maintain interest and boost learning. using an explanation from a different book.For example. a production (free speaking) task a couple of weeks later when they have had a chance to really get to know the language. a lesson on all the Continuous tenses to cover Future Continuous instead of a future tenses review) and teaching grammar just as sentence stems ("If I were you I'd. adding phonemic symbols to the drilling of the grammar. teaching an exception to the rule that you have always tried to avoid before. a future reading or listening. TTT instead of PPP). finding the best explanation from all the possible books. Helps the next grammar explanation For example.. Looks at grammar in a different way . Is relevant to the tasks in the rest of the lesson/ course The most well-known ways of tying in with the course is by choosing suitable practice tasks and (if you are using PPP) making free speaking tasks ones students could use that same language in. This not only makes how the language links to the rest of the lesson clear. teaching the same grammar but to a different level (all the uses of Present Simple to an Advanced class or Simple Past before Present Continuous to a Beginner class). Other things you might want to look at is tying the grammar in with a present or future class graded reader. 39..g. or give sentences that could be useful in a future speaking exercise.e. use example sentences straight out of a listening or reading text. Stretches the teacher Ways of making sure you are as interested in the grammar explanation as the students are and therefore pass on some of your passion include introducing new technology such as a video extract. you could make the character names and place names of your example sentences the same as in the textbook.

Takes into account the education the students have already had This includes taking into account the grammar explanations they have probably already had as a basis for you to build on. How they were taught their own language can sometimes be as relevant to these points as how they were taught English.also possible without using L1 if you have an English-only policy.. however.. and is designed in such as way as to subtly point out the differences. or looking at how quickly grammar has changed.. 45." or just to go with the flow on that point so you can teach something more important such as Second Conditionals in general. e..g. is designed with difficulties in mind such as commonly confused grammar. 44. their attitude to the conscious teaching of grammar. Please note. or common mistakes in academic writing. the use of L1 in grammar teaching. that will make sure that all the students in your class are learning something new and that you will really get their attention. Takes into account L1 For example. Isn't contradicted by what you are going to do in the book . or just a warning to yourself on possible problems. In some classes you can also get the same effect with the much simpler techniques of making grammar interesting and explaining it without the use of translation. looking at the point where collocations merge with grammar. that many people will go into an English class they have chosen precisely because they expect the opposite approach to grammar to the one they had at school. Is a myth buster This is another way of stating a couple of the points elsewhere. a source of your myth-busting surprise.Even better than the point above is if you have manage it is to get the students to reconsider grammar in general. and their attitudes to prescriptive and descriptive grammar. Takes into account common student difficulties For example. 41. 43. by looking at the different uses in spoken and written English. 40. 42.". deals with grammatical forms that look the same in English and L1 but have different meanings or uses. common misconceptions. Takes into account how that grammar is usually taught If 90% percent of the grammar books around the world teach that you must always say "If I were you. common mistakes in EFL exams. you'll need to know that before deciding whether to give them a jolt with the expression "I was you. Knowing about how grammar is dealt with in their country can also give you some information on how much grammar terminology they are likely to know. If you can choose a common language myth such as something that is usually badly taught or that is different in old fashioned prescriptive grammar books.

making it topical. Another possibility is to get students to just skip controversial questions in the book. you can give parts for the grammar presentation like the example sentences and names of sentences to different people or groups. perhaps by giving it to them as a photocopied page with the dodgy bits Tippexed out. you can tackle this by using guided grammar discovery tasks in their books or on worksheets and helping out each group individually. Involves everyone in the class If there is one student who is too shy to speak out in whole class activities like eliciting grammar or one student who dominates all grammar presentations due to level or personality. 50. 47. and what texts and practice activities you use before and after. is adaptable if students ask you questions half way through by leaving space on the board to add extra stuff. This can be achieved by basing it on a previous book listening or reading or a previous communication activity. Is in context You can make the language easier to understand and more memorable by making sure the sentence on the board has as much context as possible. using character names etc. which of the possible uses of and exceptions to that grammar point you deal with. 48. This can be achieved by making it the only grammar point of that lesson or week. or by the tips above on personalisation. Ways of combining your best practice with the textbook's less than best practice is to use the exercise before the grammar presentation TTT-style so you can then correct the book to get their attention and then carry on with a better grammar practice exercise you have written or found elsewhere.Despite the suggestions above on giving students the truest grammatical explanation from the best of all possible sources and one that contradicts common misconceptions. Alternatively. or by linking it together with several other related grammar points. Is the right level for everyone in the class This means the right level in terms of which grammar point you present. if you then go onto do a grammar practice exercise in the book that is based on a much more simplified or old-fashioned view of the language. Is adaptable For example. 49. . and ask them to cooperate to put it all together. what language you use to describe it. but also making sure small but important grammar points seem more important than they do small. what approach you use to presenting the language first or not. 46. Is not swamped by other grammar This includes making sure they have had a good break since the last grammar point as mentioned above. you are in for trouble.

following a school syllabus. cutting down on photocopies. 54. Ties in with the teaching philosophy of the textbook To make life easier on yourself when you first start using a textbook. mixing up the stages. taught consciously. a picture) to get the grammar presentation started. but how much you use of each of those techniques and others such as setting grammar up like a logic puzzle will depend on individual students and classes. TTT. mainly spoken grammar. taught in context. but most of them are possible. step by step. maybe by following the teachers' book as closely as you can bear to. or providing lots of student correction. Students might also believe the book more than you until they have learnt to trust you. taught in isolation. it's time to make a change or two. 53. if you have a very dynamic classroom personality. This can sometimes be as simple as trying to follow the book more closely. Easy techniques include getting photocopiable communication games from elsewhere to use as practice or production tasks. trying to subtly guide groups of students through a textbook grammar discovery task might not work when they are looking up from their books all the time to see which of your jokes the other groups are laughing about. sticking to the which case a whiteboard presentation might be better. PPP. 56. getting through as much grammar as possible. and/ or needs based) and try to teach the first few lessons that way. avoiding grammar terminology.g. 52. (over) simplified. it is best to look at what its approach to grammar is (prescriptive. mainly written grammar. Otherwise you might have problems with practice exercises that do not fit in with the explanation you have just given. taught unconsciously. Uses the learning styles of everyone in the class This can generally be achieved by using the visual and active techniques described above. building up grammar terminology. based on a particular native speaker model. Ties in with your preferred teaching style For example. Some of these can be difficult to tie in with the points I have made elsewhere. descriptive.51. Ties in with the teaching philosophy of the school This could be a case of thinking about how to tie it in with the use or not of L1. using a different warmer. Other possibilities include using . discovery. discovery exercises in the book that reproduce what you have just done on the board. 55. or even a grammar explanation that contradicts yours. Stretches the teaching philosophy of the textbook Once you have worked out what the textbook is trying to do with grammar and how much you are happy with it. Stretches your teaching style When you and a new class have got used to you teaching them the way you like. it is time to throw some adaptation into the mix. not letting grammar explanations interfere with student talking time. replacing the grammar explanation there with one on the board. and using a different prompt (e.

planning the language to cover less and responding more to student needs on the spot. and letting the students give the grammar presentations. Past Continuous and Future Continuous are all basically the same thing shifted along in time a little. Techniques to achieve this include encouraging student questions. because the text is a murder mystery). 60. "make and do". that the explanation will be easier. but also on whether more vocabulary. needing some logical power to transfer the situations in the text into example sentences (e. but also that they will have more chance of picking up other grammar points that they see in texts because of the skills they have developed through talking about grammar. taking a discovery approach to grammar.g.different supplementary materials. we need to show not only that students learn each grammar point we teach better than just by reading examples of it in a text.g. Shows differences The human mind seems to respond well to oversimplified dualities like "good and evil" and "black and white". difficult timelines or timelines used for the first time. Doesn't overload the brain As even a good grammar explanation can take a lot of mental power to understand. that can mean the class is both a new grammar point and revision. trying to remember previous grammar points that are used elsewhere in the example sentences. that you can reuse timelines etc that they already know and so reduce the mental load. skills development or functional language might be what your students need for their daily lives. "in and on" etc. Teaches students how to pick up other grammar they come across/ makes students self-sufficient language learners To justify the conscious teaching of grammar to those who still think that it is better picked up the way a child does in L1. should easily stick in their minds. Possible distracters include names of unfamiliar or difficult to pronounce people and places in the example sentences (e. the teacher's handwriting. 58. 57. 59. grammar terminology. new or only half remembered phonemic symbols. unfamiliar vocabulary. and hopefully that the grammar will stick together in their brains and so be easier to recall and to use. Shows similarities If you can show that the Present Continuous. pronunciation difficulties. and jokes and other examples of going off topic. 61. so contrasting two tenses. any parts of the brain that are being used to work out other things that are going on will sap that vital energy away. "Jose went to Gdansk" for the Simple Past). difficult or unfamiliar gestures meant to illustrate the grammar. to pass an exam or to get up to the next level rather than tacking more grammar at all. Is not replacing something more useful This not only means not interfering with another more important grammar point such as a little point that is usually left out or revision that would be more important than something new. remember and use in future activities. and teaching them to use self-study grammar resources such as the grammar summary section at the back of their textbooks to do homework with a .

and by emphasizing how well they have done to understand it and to contribute when you are eliciting.g. by emphasizing how simple it is. maybe even one they did in kindergarten. or an explanation of something they have always been taught as a collocation. 65. Reminds them of something One of the easiest ways of making a grammar explanation stick in students' memories is to make it stick to something they already knew before the class started. Boosts their confidence This can be achieved by eliciting things they knew already but making a grammar explanation they didn't know they knew out of it. 64. grammar explanations and simple drawings. or a famous quote or film line. 62. and explaining each point once orally facing them and again (maybe with different example sentences or just a summary of what you said) on the board. academic paper or translation of a company brochure. . that doesn't fit in with the other grammar they have been taught. sentence stem or functional language for use in restaurants etc. Doesn't take too much preparation Ways of cutting down on preparation include: keeping the OHPs for previous grammar presentations. keeping laminated picture resources to elicit example sentences. guiding them through a discovery task in their books or on a worksheet. 67. but also the things native speakers do say but others don't approve of and so could get them in trouble in a language test. having files of supplementary materials arranged by grammar point. Combines prescriptive and descriptive grammar Students will need to know not only what things native speakers don't say. but techniques include using an OHP. 63. Explains something they have always wondered This could also be the explanation of grammar in a line they already know. and having lots of reference books to refer to for timelines. e. by tackling something that seems difficult but making it very simple. a song they know the lyrics to.grammar point you haven't tackled in class yet. Is given with you facing the students This can be difficult to achieve when giving a whiteboard presentation. 66.

meaning they not only don't copy the mistake but actually learn that grammar point more easily. that gives you the option of telling them what mistakes people from that country usually make so that they notice the grammar each time they hear the mistake. This often happens when you hear a word you half remember and find you have completely lost the thread of what was being said by the time you remember what it means. by saying "this grammar also exists. but can also happen with words you are trying to work out that sound similar to something in your language. 69. They are trying to understand every word Despite the fact that we can cope with missing whole chunks of speech having a conversation on a noisy street in our own language. Takes into account what nationalities students will be speaking to/ EIL This could mean whether they will be encountering more British English or American English. help students concentrate on the most useful language. In individual listenings you can cut down on this problem with vocab pre-teach and by getting students to talk about the same topic first to bring the relevant vocabulary for that topic area nearer the front of their brain. One method of tackling this is to show them how to identify the important words that they need to listen out for. 70. many people don't seem to be able to transfer that skill easily to a second language. As with all parts of teaching. you might want to avoid a grammar point as something that only native speakers use and therefore of little use to students who only communicate with other non-native speakers. Alternatively. joking and feeling like a group working together is at least as important as any more easily analysable technique like the ones described here. 2.68. In English this is shown in an easy-to-spot way by which words in the sentence are stressed (spoken louder and longer). Another is to give them one very easy task that you know they can do even if they don't get 90% of what is being said to build up their confidence. This can help make the distinction between two forms that seem interchangeable. You could also use a . and be a way of introducing grammar that is different to what other teachers have shown them without being too aggressive about it. Talks about real usage For example. having a good atmosphere in class with smiling. Why some students find listening difficult 1. but 95% percent of the time we use this form". or which non-native speakers they are likely to communicate with through the immigrant communities or business dealings. such as identifying the name of a famous person or spotting something that is mentioned many times. Is fun Hopefully the sixty nine points above haven't made grammar presentations as daunting for the teacher as it was for the students before these kinds of things were taken into account. When taking into account which non-native speakers they will be speaking to. They get left behind trying to work out what a previous word meant This is one aspect of the problem above that all people speaking a foreign language have experienced at one time or another. words you are trying to work out from the context or words you have heard many times before and are trying to guess the meaning of once and for all.

this is probably a more common (and more tragic) problem than not knowing the vocabulary at all. 6. but teaching them the skill of coping with the multiple demands of listening and working out what words mean is not so easy. e. spend a lot of time revising vocabulary and doing skills work where they come into contact with it and use it. Another is to load up the tasks even more by adding a logic puzzle or listening and writing task.g.g. TV without dubbing or BBC World Service Radio. and sound changes when words are spoken together in natural speech such as weak forms. Whilst this is theoretically useful if or when they get a job in a multinational company. if they are sorting out the outsourcing to India. "their" and "they're" are homophones. graded readers. you could actually spend part of a lesson on the characteristics of that accent. Other reasons are problems with word stress. You might also want to think about concentrating your pronunciation work on sounds that they need to understand many different accents rather than one.g. They just don't know the most important words Again.g. They have problems with different accents In a modern textbook. and on concentrating on listenings with accents that are relevant for that particular group of students. and giving them a listening task where the written questions help out like gap fills. e. e.listening that is in shorter segments or use the pause button to give their brains a chance to catch up. In order to build up their ability to deal with different accents in the longer term. What all this boils down to is that sometimes pronunciation work is the most important part of listening comprehension skills building. and show students how to do the same in their own time. 5. One training method is to use a listening or two to get them to concentrate just on guessing words from context.. common reasons why students might not recognise a word include not distinguishing between different sounds in English (e.especially if they studied exclusively American English at school. Possibilities for making a particular listening with a tricky accent easier include rerecording it with some other teachers before class. 4.g. monolingual dictionary use etc. the nationality of their head office. the best way is just to get them listening to a lot of English. American and Australian accents. so that the amount of half remembered vocab is much less. They don't recognise the words that they know If you have a well-graded textbook for your class. Apart from just being too busy thinking about other things and missing a word. 3. students have to not only deal with a variety of British. sentence stress. not knowing words like "there". it might not be the additional challenge they need right now. They lack listening stamina/ they get tired . e. or conversely trying to listen for differences that do not exist. Finally. /l/ and /r/ in "led" and "red" for many Asians). but please make sure that you practice this with words that can actually be guessed from context (a weakness of many textbooks) and that you work on that with reading texts for a while to build up to the much more difficult skill of guessing vocab and listening at the same time. so that just listening and trying to remember words seems like an easier option. but might also have Indian or French thrown in. If it is an accent they particularly need to understand. The other solution is simply to build up their vocabulary and teach them how they can do the same in their own time with vocabulary lists. doing vocabulary pre-teaching before each listening as a short term solution and working on the skill of guessing vocab from context can help. reading all or part of the tapescript out in your (hopefully more familiar and therefore easier) accent.

This is again one that anyone who has lived in a foreign country knows well. perhaps using them mainly as a prompt to discussion or grammar presentations to stop them feeling patronized. As well as making sure the tape doesn't have lots of hiss or worse (e. not at lunchtime or when the class next door is also doing a listening. 10. Finally. they just can't cope without multimedia! Although having students who are not used to listening to the radio in their own language can't help.g. by not overloading their brains with new language beforehand. and they can practice the same thing outside class by watching an English movie with subtitles and taking the subtitles off for longer and longer periods each time. The first thing you'll need to bear in mind is to build up the length of the texts you use (or the lengths between pauses) over the course in exactly the same way as you build up the difficulty of the texts and tasks. Whatever the reason. You can disguise other easy listening comprehension tasks as pronunciation work on linked speech are doing fine with the conversation or movie until your brain seems to reach saturation point and from then on nothing goes in until you escape to the toilet for 10 minutes. Cut down on noise inside the classroom by doing the first task with books closed and pens down. Boost their confidence by letting them do the same listening on headphones and showing them how much easier it is. They are distracted by background noise Being able to cope with background noise is another skill that does not easily transfer from L1 and builds up along with students' listening and general language skills. You can make the first time they listen to a longer text a success and therefore a confidence booster by doing it in a part of the lesson and part of the day when they are most alert. 9. you also need to cut down on noise inside and outside the classroom. give them an additional challenge by using a recording with background noise such as a cocktail party conversation. in the same way. You can build up their stamina by also making the speaking tasks longer and longer during the term. especially tasks where they put the pictures in order as they listen. 8. They have a mental block This could be not just a case of a student having struggled with badly graded listening texts in school. They can't cope with not having images Young people nowadays. e. before you can build up their skills they need their confidence back. but even of a whole national myth that people from their country find listening to English difficult. you might also have students who have problems hearing particular frequencies or who have particular . by using the original or by adjusting the bass and treble) and choosing a recording with no street noise etc. 7. Plan listenings for when you know it will be quiet outside. They have hearing problems As well as people such as older students who have general difficulty in hearing and need to be sat close to the cassette. The easiest solution is just to use much easier texts. by recording tape to tape at normal speed not double speed. when they start to get used to it. Setting the scene with some photos of the people speaking can help. exams or selfstudy materials.g. and using video instead makes a nice change and is a good way of making skills such as guessing vocab from context easier and more natural. most students find not having body language and other cues to help a particular difficulty in a foreign language. and by giving them a break or easy activity before they start.

but voices that are clearly distinct to a native speaker can be completely confusing for a non-native speaker. 11. you could also try setting most listening tasks as homework and/ or letting one or more students read from the tapescript as they listen. I haven't quite worked out why those problems occur on some occasions and not on others. . You can avoid these problems by using texts with one woman and one man. or you can practice them with tasks where the students only have to count how many times the speaker changes.problems with background noise. They can't tell the difference between the different voices This was the problem that took me longest to twig. but the native speaker could be identifying a lisp. an accent or a difference in range of tone that escapes a student. As well as playing around with the graphic equaliser and doing the other tips above for background noise.