Teaching grammar to teens: why context is of critical importance

When learning a language, we often have to cope with challenges and that is okay. One of the most challenging parts of English is, of course, grammar.  Not only learning it but also teaching it. There are some nuances about presenting new grammar to your students. Whether you are studying Articles or Passive Voice, the student will hardly know what you are talking about without having you walk them through this with a couple of good examples. Except you provide them with a context, they won’t be able to apply the studied material practically. 

Why is context so crucial when teaching grammar?

If you learn grammar only by the book without having practice, you will hardly notice the effect. Think of learning a grammar rule as buying a plane ticket – this is the very beginning of your journey. Each new rule must be worked out in spoken and written language, to hear the learned construction from someone, to read it in an article and so on. In other words, get on the plane and fly to your destination.

How can we teach grammar in context?

Find as many examples as possible 

Studying grammar in a context actually means looking at many examples of the same grammar structures. The more examples you will present to your students, the more ideas they’ll have how to use a certain grammar rule in their speech.  Here are some resources where you can see examples of sentences. 

Read texts together 

Reading lessons are as good as other activities for developing your students’ grammar. Reading texts aloud is a good way to see the practical use of grammar. In addition to that, when reading, visual memory is involved, and when reading aloud, auditory memory gets involved as well. This way your students will remember useful constructions. Remember to prepare the reading materials that will be suitable for learners’ level and match their interests. It’s best to read some articles, short stories or even comics. Check graded reading for teens,  short stories, comics and more comics and mangas. Simple reading isn’t enough, don’t forget to check your teens’ comprehension after they will have read something. 

Study grammar using videos and songs 

When listening to English-speaking artists or watching videos in English, your students need to pay attention to how native speakers use grammatical constructions in their speech. It might not be easy to do at first but like with other essential skills, show them how to do it right and relay on them. For that when you are studying a new grammar structure (say Gerund and Infinitive) introduce it with a song or an episode of a TV show. Thus, your teenage students will see that this grammatical aspect isn’t just a unit in the book but a part of spoken modern language. 

For instance, if you want to find an example of above-mentioned Gerunds and Infinitive, present them the lyrics of I want to break free by Queen. 

How do you strengthen the knowledge?

Do interactive grammar tests 

It isn’t enough to work out solely with the exercises from the study book. Moreover, it won’t get your students as engaged as interactive digital tests will. Have a look at these: usingenglish.com, englishgrammar.org

Use applications and social media 

We’ve already talked about how technologies can have a good effect on your English lessons. And, of course, there are tons of applications designed for learning English. When searching for the right application to help you with learning language, first, make sure it’s really useful. Second, explain your teenagers that just by playing Duolingo 10 minutes a day they won’t get their level to Advanced. Using applications is just a supplementary tool in the process of language learning. Social networks can also give you a hand, there is a bunch of channels and groups on such social networks as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.  Teenagers are definitely spending a considerable amount of time surfing the net, and providing them with educational resources is a good way to steer on the right course. 

Work with the effect of highlighting 

This psychological phenomenon means that we perfectly remember an object that stands out amongst other identical objects. For example, if you see a person dressed in a neon-yellow jacket with pink hair in the crowd, you’ll probably remember them and not the other people. 

Some linguists recommend writing with a colored pen or print in bright color new words or grammar structures that you have hard time memorizing. The brain is more likely to perceive the eye-catching information.

Pronounce or hum the studied words loudly. This method is also recommended by many linguists. As a rule, when studying words\grammar rules, we pronounce them to ourselves or quietly pronounce them. If you try to learn in a new way, memory will absorb material faster.

How do you use grammar in your speech?

Assure that your students understand why they need to learn and remember all of those grammar rules. The main goal is to be able to use correct grammar structures in their Spoken English and to interact with others. 

There is one more important point you need to communicate to your students: being fluent in English will help you learn grammar, but learning grammar alone will not help you speak English fluently. That is to say, using grammar while speaking you’ll start figuring out how particular grammar structures work out in the sentences. 

Take a look at some examples on how to activate learned grammar structures. Don’t forget to check out these tasks with the grammatical structures that you are studying at the moment.  

  • Express your opinion about the statements (can be adapted to any grammar rule)
  • Try to persuade your partner that you are right (can be adapted to any grammar rule)
  • Give some recommendations for those who are going on a vacation (Modal verbs) 
  • Talk about your plans for this summer (To be going to, Future Forms) 
  • Share your most pleasant memories (Narrative tenses) 
  • Compare and contrast the statements  (Comparatives)

No matter how hard grammar rules might seem at first, our job as teachers is to explain to our students why they need this grammar. After they have a clear reason to study it, they’ll be much more motivated. Make sure they know you are teaching them a real language. And they’ll be able to use this English outside of the classroom.

We hope that our advice will help you in teaching grammar in context and you’ll continue an exciting journey of learning English together with your students. 

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Комментарии (2)
  • Avatar photo
    Oleg Arbuzov

    ВСЁ прекрасно — СПАСИБО !!! полезные ссылки и написано всё хорошо и по делу — ошибочку только поправьте в этом почти последнем предложении — как то бросилось мне в глаза — No matter how hard grammar rules might seem at first, our job is teachers is to explain = our job AS teachers….. ))) в разговоре о грамматике лучше не допускать ошибок — уверен что это просто опечатка — с наилучшими ))))

    • Avatar photo

      Конечно, опечатка 🙂 Спасибо за внимательность!


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