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TEACHING PARTICULAR GRAMMATICAL STRUCTURES THROUGH LITERARY

TEXTS
Introduction
It has long been the practice for graded texts in course books to contain numerous examples of
the same grammatical structure in order to highlight the use of that structure in context. For
example, a graded text might contain several examples of the construction used to illustrate a
past habit. Unless the text is skillfully written, this will often have the effect of making the style
of the text rather stilted and unrealistic but the aim of highlighting the structure is nonetheless
generally achieved with this type of presentation. Typically, the text is then followed by
comprehension questions that again highlight the structure and then various grammar-based
practice exercises to reinforce its use in some kind of context.
In the case of authentic reading texts, however, it is rarely the case that a particular text will have
numerous examples of the same grammatical structure. It is far more likely to employ a wide
range of structures of varying complexity and may refer to past, present and future time and
make use of both progressive and perfect aspects, as well as both active and passive voices.
Highlighting particular grammatical structures
If a teacher intends to make use of an authentic text to highlight a particular grammatical
structure or structures, his or her task therefore becomes a little trickier. The teacher will have to
identify a structure that is both useful and challenging for the class he or she is teaching and then
decide how best to exploit that particular structure for further work. It is highly likely that he or
she will have to go beyond the actual text and produce an exercise related to the example or
examples in the text in order to give substantial practice of the chosen structure.
At the basic observational level, when using an authentic text to illustrate a grammar point, the
teacher might ask the students to find (underline, highlight) an example or examples of a
particular structure in the text, for example:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

In paragraph 1, find an example of a reported sentence.


Underline all the reported sentences in the text.
How many different tenses can you find expressed in reported speech in the text?
Find a reported sentence in the past continuous tense.
When looking at the meaning and use in more depth, the teacher might ask questions like
these:

6.
7.

Why does the author use the reported speech here?


Could the author use direct speech? If so, what would the sentence be like?
Advantages
The advantage of focusing on a structure or structures in an authentic text such as a fragment
from a novel is that it enables the students to see these structures functioning in an authentic
context. The disadvantage can be that it is rarely sufficient simply to observe or to notice and, in

order to give further related practice; the teacher will almost certainly need to develop an
exercise to go beyond the text, as exemplified above.
The aim of this study
This study is going to be focused on the role of using different literary texts in the teaching of
English grammar. Hence, in order to find out whether using literary texts in teaching grammar is
effective or not, the study will make use of experimental approach forming two groups:
experimental and control groups. The experimental group is going to be taught a specific
structure through literary texts while the control group will not get any treatment and will be
instructed conventionally. After the treatment, the difference between the performances of the
two groups will be examined.