Grammar Teaching Has Often Been Regarded as a Structure Based

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Grammar Teaching
  10.0 Suggestions and activities on teaching grammar   Grammar teaching has often been regarded as a structure based, formal activity. After the integration of several sources and techniques, which are mainly based on communicative activities, the teaching of grammar gained a new insight. In the teaching of grammar, technique-resource combinations are often modified to structure-discourse match and if well developed, they can be used effectively for all phases of a grammar lesson. In order to make a grammar lesson effective, beneficial, and interesting a teacher should use some well-developed and fascinating techniques in the classroom. The examples of such integrated sources and techniques -the use of songs, verse, games, and problem solving activities- will be clarified and several examples will be provided. Since the meaning is an important device in teaching grammar, it is important to contextualize any grammar point. Songs are one of the most enchanting and culturally rich resources that can easily be used in language classrooms. Songs offer a change from routine classroom activities. They are  precious resources to develop students abilities in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They can also be used to teach a variety of language items such as sentence patterns, vocabulary,  pronunciation, rhythm, adjectives, and adverbs. As stated by Lo and Fai Li (1998:8), learning English through songs also provides a non-threatening atmosphere for students, who usually are tense when speaking English in a formal classroom setting. Songs also give new insights into the target culture. They are the means through which cultural themes are presented effectively. Since they provide authentic texts, they are motivating. Prosodic features of the language such as stress, rhythm, intonation are presented through songs, thus through using them the language which is cut up into a series of structural points becomes a whole again. In consequence, if selected properly and adopted carefully, a teacher should benefit from songs in all phases of teaching grammar. Songs may both be used for the presentation or the  practice phase of the grammar lesson. They may encourage extensive and intensive listening, and inspire creativity and use of imagination in a relaxed classroom atmosphere. While selecting a song the teacher should take the age, interests of the learners and the language being used in the song into consideration. To enhance learner commitment, it is also beneficial to allow learners to take part in the selection of the songs.    There are various ways of using songs in the classroom. The level of the students, the interests and the age of the learners, the grammar point to be studied, and the song itself have determinant roles on the procedure. Apart from them, it mainly depends on the creativity of the teacher. For primary students, the best songs would be those that are either familiar to the children or those, though maybe not familiar, which have an international nature, such as Old MacDonald. Since there is not a strict teaching procedure, the teacher can mainly concentrate on what to teach rather than on how to teach. For instance, while teaching them individual letter sounds or spelling the words, the traditional camp song 'Bingo', or while teaching them counting 'Johnny Works with One Hammer' will be useful. In order to make the songs more meaningful and more enjoyable, motions can be added to the song which parallel the words of the song. Since most children enjoy singing fun and nonsensical lyrics, using easy children songs will be useful. Furthermore, choosing lively action songs through which they can dance or act while singing will ensure a lively atmosphere. For teenagers or adults in the intermediate or advanced level, it is better to use more meaningful or popular songs, which not only review or introduce grammar points but also reflect cultural aspects. At the primary level of singing the song, the prosodic features of the language is emphasized. At the higher levels, where the practice of grammar points is at the foreground, songs can be used with several techniques. Some examples of these techniques are:    Gap fills or close texts    Focus questions    True-false statements    Put these lines into the correct sequence    Dictation    Add a final verse    Circle the antonyms/synonyms of the given words    Discuss  A teacher's selection of a technique or a set of techniques should be based on his or her objectives for the classroom. After deciding the grammar point to be studied, and the song and the techniques to be used, the teacher should prepare an effective lesson plan. Since songs are listening activities, it is advisable to present them as a listening lesson, but of course it is necessary to integrate all the skills in the process in order to achieve successful teaching. When regarding a lesson plan, as an induction activity, the theme, the title, or the history of the song can be discussed. By directing the students toward specific areas, problem vocabulary items can be picked up in advance. Before listening to the song, it is also beneficial to let the students know which grammar points should be studied. At this stage, pictures may also be used to introduce the theme of the song. In the listening stage, some of the techniques listed above can  be used, but among them gap filling is the most widely used technique. Through such gaps, the vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation is highlighted. This stage can be developed by the teacher according to the needs of the students and the grammar point to be studied. In the practice part, integrated skills can be used to complete the overall course structure. Since many songs are on themes for which it is easy to find related reading texts, it may lead the learner to read a text about the singer or the theme. Besides, many songs give a chance for a written reaction of some kind. Opinion questions may lead the learner to write about his own thoughts or reflections. Some songs deal with a theme that can be re-exploited through role  plays. Acting may add enthusiasm to the learning process. Finally, some songs deal with themes, which can lead to guided discussion. By leading the students into a discussion, the grammar  point could be practiced orally and, in a way, naturally. Exploitation of songs for grammatical structures can be illustrated through several examples. For present tense 'Let It Be' by the Beatles, for past tense 'Yesterday' by the Beatles, for present progressive 'Sailing' by Rod Stewart, for present perfect 'Nothing Compares to You'  by Sinead Occonor, for past perfect 'Last Night I Had...' by Simon and Garfunkel, for modals 'Blowing in the Wind' by Bob Dylan, and for conditionals 'El Condor Pasa' by Simon and Garfunkel can be used. However, it should be kept in mind that songs, which provide frequent repetitions, or tell a story, or provide comments about life, or introduce cultural themes are the effective ones, since they provide authentic and meaningful material.  As a consequence, the use of songs in language classrooms provides many advantages. They entertain and relax the learners while they are learning or practicing a structure, and they often eliminate the students negative attitude towards learning. Through providing authenticity and context they make the grammar points more understandable and easy. As language teachers, we can benefit from using songs, since our concern is to motivate the students and draw their utmost attention on the subject during teaching. Poems, like songs, contextualize a grammar lesson effectively. Since poetry is often spoken, repeated, dealt with, and considered, it acts as an effective tool for practicing a specific grammatical structure. Through repeating and considering the poem, the grammatical structures  become more deeply internalized. Thus, poetry not only provides a rewarding resource for structured practice of grammar, but also a proper basis for review. If a poem that exemplifies a  particular structure is also a good poem, it engages the eye, the ear and the tongue simultaneously while also stimulating and moving us; this polymorphic effect makes poetry easier to memorize than other things for many students (Celce-Murcia and Hills, 1988:123). Like songs, poems exaggerate the rhythmic nature of the language. Thus it is an important aspect to be taught, since English is a syllable timed language with stressed syllables  being spoken at roughly equal time pauses, even in everyday speech. Similar to songs, poems have an enormous linguistic value as they provide authenticity and cultural views. A poem's capacity to comfort the reader or the listener also increases its effectiveness as a teaching resource. Once a poem or song has been learned, they stay in the minds of the students for the rest of their lives, with all the rhythms, grammatical features and vocabulary. Poems may bring the use of creativity and the rhythm into the language classroom, though they may also bring some difficulties. Poems are not constructed in a simple way and syntactically they are at a higher level than prose, thus it might be very difficult for a foreign language learner to comprehend them completely. As stated by Povey (cited in Celce-Murcia and Hills, 1988) there are three main barriers for literature including poetry. They are linguistic, cultural, and intellectual barriers. Linguistic difficulties are the problems caused by the syntax or the lexicon of the poem. Cultural difficulties include imagery, tone, and allusion. At the intellectual level, the students should be intellectual and mature enough to understand the theme

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Jul 23, 2017
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