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Design of a Grammar Lesson


Dr.AbdelRehim el-Hilaly
Professor of Teaching English as a Foreign Language email:prof.hilaly@yahoo.com

A gram. lesson may take many formats, and we admit that there are other ways of teaching grammar than this. But this design is based on solid theoretical framework and experimentations that these procedures achieve a maximum efficiency in language learning.

The procedures are designed for a fifty minute class devoted exclusively to grammar. In a class which is designed to teach all four skills, the procedures will have to be modified by shortening the lesson but the order of activities should remain essentially the same.

The format of the lesson looks like this:

Step 1. Presentation of Pattern in Context Step 2. Comprehension Questions Step 3. Identification of the Pattern Step 4. Formal Explanations Step 5. Mechanical Drills Step 6. Functional Explication Step 7. Meaningful Drills Step 8. Communicative Drills

Step 1. Presentation of Pattern in Context :

The structural pattern should first be introduced in context. -Dialogues and letters, news , stories, etc. Crucial words :food poisoning, the whole passage would be incompre hensible if SS did not understand the expression food poisoning.

Assigned homework prior to introduction of the passage.

Next, the T. reads the dialogue while the SS follow along in their own books. They keep their books open because the purpose of the activity is to introduce structural patterns in context.

Step 2. Comprehension Questions :

After T. reads the introductory passage, he asks some Comp. QQ to make sure that the SS have understood. If the QQ are skillfully constructed, the SS can be made to answer using the examples of the target structural pattern, thus making the model patterns familiar.

SS allowed to keep their books open since we are checking comprehension not memorization of details. QQ should be factual , inferential and opinion type. This technique not only gives the SS more opportunity to talk but also relates new information to their own world and experience, and so makes the new language more real to them.

Step 3. Identification of the Pattern :

SS need to identify the target pattern


T. writes on the black board one ex. from the dialogue and then have the SS find the other occurrences of the same pattern. This tech. serves to focus the SS attention on the specific teaching point as well as on the context and form of the new pattern.

If there is only one ex. in the text. They should identify & read it.

If SS identify the wrong pattern, the continuous form (she has been writing) with the simple present perfect (she has written ), T. puts both patterns on the board, and have SS point out how the two patterns differ. This takes no more than 2-3 min. but it is important because it serves to avoid later confusion.

Step 4. Formal Explanation :

It means analysis of the linguistic forms and characteristics of a structural pattern, such as word order, concord agreement, shape and combination of forms. One may either begin with mechanical drills or formal explanation . The decision depends on the nature and complexity of the pattern, the aptitude and proficiency of the class.

The formal explanation should be simple and graphic as possible, and when possible, include a contrast to a

similar previously learned Pattern. For example : And asks the class how the two patterns differ. Then in order to focus on the formal difference, T. can ask: "How do you know?" SS be aware of the differences between the patterns, Efficient way : to let SS themselves give the rule

Two main points about the formal explanation: (1)it should not be missing (2)it should be brief SS have to learn that much in language is arbitrary and has no reason. The rule for in : SS refused to believe that there was no such rule. There are aspects of language which are mastered through memorization and practice.

Step 5. Mechanical Drills

It helps SS learn the forms of the new pattern. They should be drilled at a rapid pace with the books closed. A drill should have 7-10 items, takes 2min. Mech. drills are inherently boring and they should be abandoned as soon as SS have learnt the pattern. T. gives the cue without repeating SS response. Mech. drills should always be done chorally to assure max. participation.

Step 6. Functional Explication:

SS need to learn when to use the pattern. The troublesome part of present continuous. Arab SS confuse it with the pres simple due to MT. But grammarians : the action is taking place at the moment of speaking. The two structures should be put on the board and SS are asked how they differ in meaning :

Mary usually lives alone .

But she is living with her parents at the moment .

Distinction is between "at this moment" VS. "always, usually


versus habitual present. The functional explication should take no more than a minute or two, but it is a vital step without which none but the most able students will be to progress toward communication.

Step 7. Meaningful Drills :

SS focus on meaning rather than on form, true rather than correct. There still is a correct answer, and the T. should insist on it. Both in form and content. Helpful if the drills focus on the contrasting structures to assure that SS have learned the rule. T. may begin with a discrimination pattern drill where the correct answer (there is only one ) depends on conscious choice by SS in the form of qq , the answers to which the class knows.

Such a drill can either be based on the introductory passage :

Does Bill take a street car to school ? S: Yes Is he taking a street car right now ? No. Or on the class situation : Does Jean speak Spanish ? S: Yes. Is She speaking Spanish ? No. Where the names refer to the students in the class.

Step 8. Communicative Drills :

They have two-fold purposes: teaching gram patterns and the use of lang. for communication, where the focus is on what is said rather than how it is said. Necessity (1)instruct SS to answer truthfully. Necessity(2) SS contribute new information to the class responding conversationally and grammatically in an appropriate fashion.

Of crucial importance for T. to listen to and react to what SS say. In a real act of communication, one

reacts to provocative statements, and so it should be in he classroom.

"I drive a Rolls Royce all year". raised eyebrows by SS , but the T. went right as if this had not been heard. While it is possible that this S came from a wealthy family, it is also possible that she was answering the first thing that came into her head.

Such random answers defeat the purpose of communication and the T. should gently insist that SS answer truthfully. More importantly, SS must feel that what they have to say is of significance to someone, and the teacher, by reacting, sets the tone and atmosphere in the classroom.

Identify the following as true ( ) or false ( )

1. The gram. pattern should be introduced in a natural language text.( ) 2. The T. reads the dialog while SS follow with their books closed.( ) 3. After reading, the T. asks comp. QQ to make sure that SS have understood.( ) 4. SS should be made to answer using examples of the target pattern. ( )

5.SS need to identify occurrences of target pattern in the passage.( ) 6. Pattern identification focuses SS attention on its context and form.( 7. Mechanical drills are inherently interesting. ( ) 8. Mechanical drills should be slowly drilled with the books open.( )

9. Functional explication is a vital step towards communication.( )

10.Meaningful drills help SS learn the form of the new pattern.(

11.Meaningful drills focus on contrasting structures to assure that SS have learnt the rule. ( ) 12. Meaningful drills depend on unconscious choice by SS .( ) 13.In communications drills, the focus is on how to say rather than what to say. ( ) 14.In communications drills, it is not advisable that the T. react to provocative statements.( )

15.Random answers defeat the purpose of communication.( ) Essay Questions :

1. What type of qq that should be asked in presenting the gram. pattern.?

2. Differentiate between factual, inferential and opinion type of question .

3. In case of wrong pattern identification by SS , what procedure should T. follow?

4. What is meant by formal explanation of the pattern? 5. Methodologists have long debated the value of the inductive and deductive techs. in teaching gram. Explain giving prominence to linguistic and psychological influences.

6. What does it mean to say that language

learning is a product of habit formation ? 7.Illustrate the view to language learning as an establishment of rule governed behavior. 8. What variables should a T. consider when making decision about teaching grammar ? 9. Write a short design of a grammar lesson. Complete the following: a. Whether to start with mech. drills or formal explanation it depends on. b. Remember two main points about formal explanation (1) (2)
c. Mechanical drills should always be done chorally to assure .. d . Functional explication means knowing