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A Sense of Grammar

Mock Exam
Sarah Tarp Nissen

Numbers of keystrokes: 5.516
Grammar makes sense
I can easily remember when I was a primary student myself. The English lessons
were characterized of my very scary and strict English teacher. She almost always
started the classes with: Now, lets have some grammar. Can someone explain to
me the rules of As I remember the situation, I can still feel the chills running
down my spine.

As a newly educated English teacher in Denmark it is important not to teach
grammar in the boring old-fashioned way. In the article Seven Bad Reasons For
Teaching Grammar. Michael Swan, starts by saying:
Grammar is important, but most of the time, in most parts of the world,
people probably teach too much of it. I think we can identify at least seven
reasons for this.

He thinks that teachers put way too much focus on grammar and for all the wrong
reasons. A teacher should not teach grammar because it is there, or because it
gives her the power of knowing more than her students. This can easily lead the
students to get the same impression of grammar teaching that I had, back in the
old days when I was a schoolchild myself. However, I think that this article is
quite useful. It is beneficial to get some examples of why and how not to teach
grammar. Some kind of "what not to do" guide. It can be a daily reminder to all
teachers who are or soon will be teaching grammar in schools worldwide.
Because working with grammar in such ways lead the students to learning
grammar rather than learning the language.
They learn grammar, at the expense of other things that matter as much or
more. They know the main rules, can pass tests, and may have the illusion
that they know the language well. However, when it comes to using the
language in practice, they discover that they lack vital elements, typically
vocabulary and fluency: They can recite irregular verbs but cannot sustain a

But let us not be blinded by these frightening stories because there are many
good reasons for teaching grammar in a fun and educational way. Grammar
teaches the student how to build and use certain structures which makes it
possible to communicate common types of meanings successfully. Without these
structures, it is difficult to make comprehensible sentences
. If you do not know
such things as basic verb forms, interrogative and negative structures, the use of
the main tenses and modal auxiliaries, you will have big problems with writing
and speaking English. A person who speaks badly may not be taken seriously, or
may be considered uneducated or stupid
. Therefore, students may want or need
a higher level of grammatical correctness than what is required for more
comprehensibility. Just take a look at the former Danish Foreign Minister Villy
Svndal, who got humiliated because of his English skills, or lack of the same.

A teacher needs some goals and purposes for her teaching. One must consider the
level of the students and arrange the curriculum accordingly. What points of
grammar we choose to teach will therefore depend on learners circumstances
and aims.
If we can manage to focus clearly on these principles, we have a better
chance of teaching English instead of just teaching grammar.

With all this taken into consideration, there are many ways to teach students
grammar in a fun and challenging way without it becoming boring and old-
fashioned. Students need to learn grammar in a context. It helps to clarify the
meaning. Also if you use multiple senses such as hearing, saying and writing
repeatedly, it can help the students to remember the grammatical rules

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Moreover, one can make learning more fun for instance by making games, role-
plays and fun drills which are ways of making the learning progress enjoyable.

One of my favorite games is the Determiners Game
. The teacher writes
some words on the board. The words match sentences that are given to the
students. Now it is up to the students to fulfill the sentences in the correct way.
It can benefit the learning process, because by inserting the correct word,
the students need to be careful and change the verb. You can make it a
competition by eliminating people who have different answers from the majority
each round until only two or three are left. To make the task more gentle,
students can work in pairs so that they are able to use and help each other and to
find out the right answer.

If a teacher has a class with many different levels of the foreign language, it might
be a good idea to differentiate the teaching so that all students get the most from
it. This can be done by the Courtroom questions task
. This is about the students
working in pairs on a role-play. You can do this in all kinds of teaching situations.
In grammatical exercises the teacher gives the students some different examples
of correct and incorrect grammatical sentences. The lawyer asks direct questions
first, and if they hear any uncertainty in the answer they follow up with an
indirect question to find out whether the witness is really sure. It is a good idea
that students work with someone of the same level. This way they can challenge
and learn from each other.

I hope this can give you inspiration for your own teaching. And remind you that it
is easy to give the students good experiences with good grammar. Grammar is
obviously not something we teach just because its there. Grammar teaching can
be an excellent introduction to the study of linguistics, which has obvious value,
e.g. the study of universals, language change, and dialects. So remember:
Grammar makes sense.

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I agree with Scott Thornbury. Repetition promotes understanding. Retrieve,
repeat, recast, report and recycle gives a lot of strategies on how to make
interaction between learners without sacrificing the real communication. It also
provides the opportunity to make an appreciative teaching where students feel
safe and heard. Here the teacher can rightly include some different cooperative
learning structures so that all students get as much talking time as possible.

We have all tried to stand on our heads to get our students' attention. It is all
about meeting the learner in their environment and focusing on their everyday
lives which means the language that emerges in class will be relevant to them
They need to see that learning is relevant, not only now but also in the future.
As a teacher and especially as a teacher of grammar, you must have a high
level of expertise. You must know what you're talking about and always have
your professional knowledge as a support. Like Charlie Brown sad:
If you dont like their rules, whose would you use?

There is no need to choose between teaching in focus-on-form (FonF) and focus-
on-formS (FonFS) run on sentences can easily be combined and sometimes even
for the better. A combination can make planning and execution of the curriculum
easier. Especially newly graduated teachers can have big advantages by having
something to be inspired by. FonFS can do this. A traditional approach can

Text 2, p. 1
Sarah Tarp Nissen
involve a syllabus of pre-selected items where the students work through
grammar tasks and rules, the tasks are not necessarily made so every student in
class tan improve.
But if the teaching is exclusively created through this
planning and execution, the teaching will be monotonous unless it is integrated
into some kind of activity and context
and this can easily be done through
deductive and inductive teaching.
The deductive approach: the students learn the rule and apply it only after
they have been introduced to the rule
The inductive approach: the students learn the use of the structure
through practice of the language in context, and later realize the rules
from the practical examples
When I introduce students to something new whether it is grammar, spelling,
improvement of vocabulary or something else, I mostly use ordinary board
teaching. Generally, it is done to scaffold the students to work independently,
individually or in pairs. I answer the typical questions from the learners. It gives
me a good sense of the students level and understanding. Afterwards I have the
chance to decide whether I need to make any changes in the classroom so that the
students do not have major challenges, or whether I have done too much
scaffolding so that the teaching becomes boring and uninteresting to the
students. It is all about the learner developing in the zone of proximal
Such a preparation will strengthen the weakest students and challenge the
strongest. And is this not the whole secret of being a teacher? To challenge the
students in all their different levels? Basically, you have to adapt the teaching
methods to suit the learner and the learning situation. There can be big
differences in how students learn best; even in the classroom there may be
significant differences among the students. This can might seem to complicate the
teachers work, but luckily enough, there are constantly invented new tools and
new teaching methods, that can make the job seem easier. The teacher just need
to pick the methods that suit the situation and the students.

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At one time, it was assumed that the only way of developing grammatical
competence in a second language was through direct teaching of grammar.
We all held the skill-building position: We learn language by first learning
the rules consciously, then practicing them in output exercises, and we fine-
tune our knowledge of rules by getting our errors corrected

I'm not saying that we completely need to forget this old-fashioned way of
thinking. We can still get inspired by them, but we must also keep track of the still
working progress and challenge ourselves as teachers as well as our students.

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English is a foreign language to me, and even though I have had some serious
trouble learning it both in my primary school and secondary school, I think I have
come a long way. I know I still have a lot to learn, and I actually think that you will
never be fully educated as a teacher and especially as an English teacher. Both
because of the improving progress of all the new technologies, teaching styles
and because you can never develop your vocabulary too much.
The two assignments above mostly have the same language. This is totally
on purpose. Both the article and the comment have an audience of newly
graduated teachers or teachers with experience. In both cases they have
knowledge about the technical terms and staged situations I have described
either by having a lot or some teaching experiences themselves otherwise they
have been observing other teachers.
When I know the audience and the professional level of these, it makes it
easier to communicate my knowledge because I know what level is appropriate.
Furthermore, articles need to be interesting. We have all become zappers! We live
in a society where we just zap away or click us further, webpages through
webpages, if the content does not interest us. Bloggers, online news and social

Text 4, p. 1
media have big challenges in sustaining their audience. I have considered this
during my writing. Forexample I have kept my key statements to the end of the
text witch enables the readers to keep focus and keep on reading so that they
explore all my statements and meanings. Furthermore, it is important with a
good opening it needs to be relevant, engaging, thoughtful and provocative to the
reader. By referring to an old bad English experience I drew the reader. Everyone
has tried to deal with a bad teaching situation which might have frightened us or
worse, scared us to learn.
My own experience is that there must be many good experiences to
overshadow one simple bad. That is the harsh truth but unfortunately the reality.
As a teacher-to-be I have got myself some guidelines on how I see myself as a
teacher. I need to deal with the developments; the gigantic focus now is IT based
teaching, which might have caused old teachers big troubles. Perhaps I have
scared some because it leads into a new territory, where students in some points
are better. It can be difficult to keep up with the new generation that is born and
raised in a constant evolution. In addition, I need to meet student right where the
student requires it. The development of different teaching tools is enormous so
the teacher only needs to choose the best.
It was important for me to clarify this in my replies above. Not only
because it can be an inspiration to the reader. But also because it can function as
a daily reminder to myself: Who am I, and what kind of teacher do I want to be

re A:
Sarah, you make a good attempt at offering your own opinion based on a discussion
of some of the views from the text package. You write rather fluently, but you need
to think of cohesion and accuracy. Your writing is closer to spoken English.
re B:
a nice contribution to the blog. A blog is an open genre so it is difficult to argue with
your choice of form and structure. However, you still have to consider clarity and
re C:
Dont start a new discussion! The C-task is about your language use:

This means you must give examples of your choice of language and explain your
16.03.2014 Alice