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Teaching Grammar Introduction: What is Grammar?

What is Grammar?

Grammar is the structural ‘rules’ of a language. It covers:

  • Syntax: the order in which words and phrases are ordered to create meaningful expressions in a language
  • Morphology: word forms and the formation of words by the addition of prefixes and suffixes
  • Semantics: the meaning of a language

-Is Your CELTA Certification Course Missing Grammar?-

What do Teachers Need to Consider?

When teachers are introducing a new grammar point, they need to be aware of the whole range of features that make up the grammar.  Teachers need to think about when and how a language structure is used.

A thorough presentation of a grammar point needs to address:

  • the meaning that is expressed by the structure
  • the form that the structure takes

In addition, teachers need to think about pronunciation: how do students say the new structure?

Teachers also need to recognize that sometimes common usage in English can be somewhat different than what is specified in many grammar texts. Languages are constantly changing and evolving, so sometimes general usage may conflict with what grammar books describe.

Analyzing Language Before Teaching

Before teaching a grammar point, teachers need to thoroughly analyze the features of the new language. It is important to have a clear understanding of the key concepts and meanings expressed by a structure.

It is not good enough to say, for example, that a structure expresses ‘future’. There are many different ways of expressing the future in English: how is one structure different from another?

Teachers need to consider the contexts in which a structure is used, and which meanings of a structure are appropriate for different levels.

Present simple, for example, is taught to low beginners to express daily habits and routines, but it can also be used in past tense narratives  (in some storytelling contexts) which is a usage that is more appropriate for higher levels.

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