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How to Teach GrammarTeaching grammar is an essential part of school education or adult learning.  Without good grammar, spoken or written words lose much of their meaning and most of their value.  Grammar is a very important thing to get right, and teachers should take extra care to impart proper grammar to all their students.  Sadly, grammar is often seen as a difficult and boring subject and one popular method of teaching is to just repeat the correct grammar for a certain situation over and over until it is memorised and able to be repeated, like a parrot.  This is dull for both teachers and students, and often only results in the students being able to repeat what they have learned, rather than resulting in a complete understanding that can be applied to all situations.

English grammar is very complex, and all its intricacies cannot truly be learned by rote, they must be really understood – and understanding is most easily achieved when students are engaged, interested and having fun during a lesson. To make sure you’re covering all the necessary topics with your students, you could check out the Grammar Boost lesson plans here.

Word puzzles are a useful and interactive method whereby students can learn all sorts of important parts of English grammar.  They can be used to encourage students to identify and understand various parts of a sentence; grammatical concepts like synonyms, tenses and conjugations; or incorrectly used grammar.  Word puzzles such as crosswords are easily modified to suit all age and skill levels and introduce an element of fun competition into the learning process, so they can be invaluable in forging a full and lasting understanding of English grammar.

Another game-based method of teaching grammar that you could use in teaching your students is Bingo.  The game of Bingo is based on people marking off spaces on their card until they fill in a row or column fully.  In normal Bingo these are numbers, drawn at random from a pool.  In grammar lesson Bingo, they could be pronouns, verbs, nouns, sentence structure, antonyms, and so on – students could use the daily newspaper and attempt to find correct examples of these grammatical concepts faster than each other, thereby “winning” the game – and learning in the process! Short and fun grammar exercises like this can be included on a regular basis during your lessons to keep correct grammar usage fresh your students’ minds and improve their recall of the topics at hand. Advanced English Grammar is an online lesson plan featuring quizzes and lectures to help you teach your students all the elements of good grammar.

In lessons where you are not incorporating some sort of game, it is beneficial to consider inductive teaching. This is a method where you lead the students to the correct conclusion, rather than feeding them the information straight away. Getting the students to think about what the correct answer might be and figure it out for themselves will leave a longer lasting impression in their brain and result in better retention.  It is worth getting your students to speak using the grammar that you are attempting to teach, in sentences that relate to themselves.  They will have to process the knowledge you have given them in a way that is relevant to them, and in doing so they will forge a clearer understanding of the context and a memory of how to use the grammar you have taught in the future.  You should also encourage your students to write down the important sentences and grammatical concepts that you teach them, so that they have something to refer back to if they need to, but also because writing something out improves contextual memory

One particularly useful lesson could be spent on highlighting common mistakes that people make, and incidences of grammar not fitting the expected pattern.  By teaching your students what is incorrect in this way, you can help them to avoid making these common mistakes.  Turning it into a funny or amusing session of picking out subtle mistakes or ways that poor grammar has led a normal sentence to become ambiguous, funny or wrong can really help make your lesson very memorable, and one lesson of showing students what is wrong can often be more valuable than several lessons of trying to teach what is right.

Teaching English as a second language to adults or children is a more involved process than teaching native English speakers, as ESL/EFL students have in-depth knowledge of their own language’s grammar rules, most of which are completely different than English.  You may need to focus more deeply on sentence structure, pronouns, descriptors and tenses to help them become fluent in English grammar because of this innate difference between English and their native language.  This Elementary Course in English as a Foreign Language can help you to plan your lessons to accommodate any non-native speakers in your classes, and more in-depth detail can be found here, a course on Listening Skills for English as a Second Language, which might help you troubleshoot any issues you come across with any more advanced learners in your classroom.

In summation, all education depends on a foundation of good grammar.  If students cannot understand grammar, they will struggle to read, write or speak clearly in any other area of education, from maths and science to history or geography. Good language is the base on which all other education has to stand. Teachers can use a variety of ways to make their grammar lessons memorable and enjoyable for students. Students who enjoy their lessons will pay closer attention, and you will then have an easier time while teaching. This is why great lessons are important for everyone involved, and why you should take the time to ensure you are teaching grammar in the best and most engaging way for the skill level and requirements of your individual students.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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