- Students need overt instruction that connects grammar points with larger communication contexts.
- Students do not need to master every aspect of each grammar point, only those that are relevant to the immediate communication task.
- Error correction is not always the instructor’s first responsibility.
- Teach the grammar point in the target language or the students’ first language or both. The goal is to facilitate understanding.
- Limit the time you devote to grammar explanations to 10 minutes, especially for lower level students whose ability to sustain attention can be limited.
- Present grammar points in written and oral ways to address the needs of students with different learning styles.
- Be sure the examples are accurate and appropriate. They must present the language appropriately, be culturally appropriate for the setting in which they are used, and be to the point of the lesson.
- Use the examples as teaching tools. Focus examples on a particu
lar theme or topic so that students have more contact with specific information and vocabulary.
- Teach the regular -ed form with its two pronunciation variants
- Teach the doubling rule for verbs that end in d (for example, wed-wedded)
- Hand out a list of irregular verbs that students must memorize
- Do pattern practice drills for -ed
- Do substitution drills for irregular verbs
- Distribute two short narratives about recent experiences or events, each one to half of the class
- Teach the regular -ed form, using verbs that occur in the texts as examples. Teach the pronunciation and doubling rules if those forms occur in the texts.
- Teach the irregular verbs that occur in the texts.
- Students read the narratives, ask questions about points they don’t understand.
- Students work in pairs in which one member has read Story A and the other Story B. Students interview one another; using the information from the interview, they then write up or orally repeat the story they have not read.
- When students are doing structured output activities that focus on development of new language skills, use error correction to guide them.
Student (in class): I buy a new car yesterday. Teacher: You bought a new car yesterday. Remember, the past tense of buy is bought.
- When students are engaged in communicative activities, correct errors only if they interfere with comprehensibility. Respond using correct forms, but without stressing them.
Student (greeting teacher) : I buy a new car yesterday!
- Declarative knowledge is knowledge about something. Declarative knowledge enables a student to describe a rule of grammar and apply it in pattern practice drills.
- Procedural knowledge is knowledge of how to do something. Procedural knowledge enables a student to apply a rule of grammar in communication.
- Mechanical drills in which students substitute pronouns for nouns or alternate the person, number, or tense of verbs can help students memorize irregular forms and challenging structures. However, students do not develop the ability to use grammar
correctly in oral and written interactions by doing mechanical drills, because these drills separate form from meaning and use. The content of the prompt and the response is set in advance; the student only has to supply the correct grammatical form, and can do that without really needing to understand or communicate anything. The main lesson that students learn from doing these drills is: Grammar is boring.
- Communicative drills encourage students to connect form, meaning, and use because multiple correct responses are possible. In communicative drills, students respond to a prompt using the grammar point under consideration, but providing their own content. For example, to practice questions and answers in the past tense in English, teacher and students can ask and answer questions about activities the previous evening. The drill is communicative because none of the content is set in advance:
Student 1: No, I didn’t. I went to the movies. (to Student 2): Did you read chapter 3?
Student 2: Yes, I read chapter 3, but I didn’t understand it. (to Student 3): Did you understand chapter 3?
Student 3: I didn’t read chapter 3. I went to the movies with Student 1.