It is generally agreed that teaching/learning grammar is a difficult and time-consuming process. No doubt, grammar is an essential element in teaching/learning a foreign language. It cannot be taught or learnt in complete isolation from the rest of the linguistic components such as phonetics, vocabulary, and spelling. There is a debate
The task of a teacher is to be a mediator between the language and the learner and also a facilitator in order to explain the difficulties of the language and make them easy for understanding
among English teachers over the question of what is more important — teaching/learning grammar or lexis. I consider both grammar and lexis to be of great importance. They are as important as any finger of a hand. To overvalue any of them at the expense of the other linguistic areas means to make a mistake because language is a combination of different linguistic components where each of them plays its own role.
In my opinion grammar is the skeleton of language. They say that Chinese or Japanese is difficult for Europeans and vice versa. And they are right, but only to some extent. As we know, native speakers, even kids, speak their language fluently and naturally. They are great philologists. That means that everyone can learn any language successfully. The task of a teacher is to be a mediator between the language and the learner and also a facilitator in order to explain the difficulties of the language and make them easy for understanding. The task sounds challenging. Thus, teachers are faced with a tremendous responsibility for pupils’ knowledge because educating people well means creating intellectual capital for their countries. Teachers must develop the children’s natural linguistic talents instead of training them to be average.
I was given a chance to go to the USA to present my grammar book “Grammar and Me” (or “English for ‘Dummies’”) at the International English Language Conference in Delaware, USA, in the summer of 2000.
It took me many years to create the grammar system of teaching English. It became my so-called ‘grammar know-how’ of teaching my pupils effectively. At that time I could successfully teach my pupils different linguistic skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking. Some of the pupils became winners of school and local English Language Contests but not regional or national ones. Their grammar was poor. I decided to help my pupils to cope with their difficulties. First, I selected grammatical exercises from different sources - books, textbooks and periodicals, and then I delivered them systematically in order to find a few new and interesting ideas for the lessons. I needed them terribly because pupils’ textbooks left much to be desired and provided very few exercises for meaningful grammar practice. I started designing new diagrams and grammar charts for my lessons. I even made some ‘discoveries,’ finding some simpler ways to teach English grammar in the modem classroom, which corresponded to the language proficiency of my pupils and took in the account their age and abilities. I facilitated the explanation of different grammar areas using pictures, gestures, logical conclusions and comparisons with the native language.
Also, I wanted to prove to everybody that learning grammar was not a boring thing. On the contrary, it could be fun. For example, after pupils had ieamt some tenses of the Active and Passive Voice, I introduced the following chart for them to summarise their grammar knowledge and help them understand the English tense system better.
Having analysed the chart, pupils came to the conclusion that the Active and Passive Voice reminded them of their two arms - the right one and left one. They are alike but different. They have common ‘signal’ words (e.g. usually, always, often for the Present Indefinite Tense or already, ever Just for the Present Perfect Tense and so on) but different formulas for different tenses (be V-ing — for Progressive, have been V-ing— for the Perfect Progressive etc.) As a result of the pupils’ creative thinking a new picture of a funny “Tense Man” appeared in the classroom. (See page 7.)
One of the most complicated grammar areas for EFL pupils is putting different types of questions. The scheme “Lorry” which I designed for them helps the learners understand my explanation better. (See page 7.)
To teach grammar successfully, in spite of numerous constraints, teacher must be the most creative person on earth, meeting all challenges with enthusiasm and skill, using different methods of teaching, various charts, schemes and tables for their pupils to be involved in the process of learning with great desire.
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