Three fun ideas for teaching grammar to TEFL students

Grammar. The very mention of the word strikes fear in the heart of the most staunch language student. Many EFL and ESL English teachers also feel like their stomachs turn over when they think about preparing and teaching a grammar lesson. But what are we going to do? If lexicon and vocabulary are the building blocks of language, then grammar is undoubtedly the cement or structure that holds them together. Teaching and learning it is therefore inescapable. So the only thing you can do is make it as interesting, enjoyable, or at least as painless as possible. Here are some ideas to help you do just that.

1. Play grammar games

Both students and teachers love playing games in the EFL ESL classroom. Therefore, make extensive use of games to teach and reinforce critical grammar points. You say you don’t know any grammar games? Or are you perhaps joking that you don’t have a good stock of them, so you can’t count on employing them regularly to use in your classes? On the contrary! They abound on the websites of English teachers, in trade publications, and in the minds and hearts of their colleagues around the world. If you have a good game to share, post it on an ELT forum or TEFL materials / activities website. Create your own based on popular games that you are familiar with. Use turn-based and chase games, card games, board games, or TPR-based games to get maximum participation from your students. Actually, you should go in too. Don’t be lazy.

2. Use movies and video clips

“Go ahead, make my day.” Now who exactly was the first to say that? Yes, yes, I’m sure you know. Now change it to other verb tenses. Change it for a question. Change it into different question shapes. Make it imperative. You get the idea.

“I will make you an offer that you cannot refuse.” If you don’t know the opening speaker on that line, three slaps with a wet noodle for you. What verb tense is there? Now change it in different ways.

View a three- to seven-minute clip of a movie or video scene. Write the grammar forms that you hear. Then have the class do it. Are all agreed? Do not? What are the different shapes they come up with? Which is correct? Go back, watch the clip again and check it out. Do it until you are satisfied.

3. Use audio-only segments

Now it is being touched. Listen to an audio clip. A segment of commercials, stories, dialogues or news. Where from? Radio, cassettes, TV, CD / DVD, etc. Note the grammar points used. Can you change any of them? How? Why? What does the change to the meaning do? Does it become formal or informal? Imperative? Humorous? Be sure to have students practice and speak these short dialogues out loud. (Everyone wants to be Dirty Harry or Godfather) My students like the scenes from “The Matrix” and “Frantic” with Harrison Ford. James Bond movie scenes also rank highly among my students. Ladies like being Julia Roberts or Demi Moore from just about any of their flics. Angela Bassett and Sigourney Weaver frequently portray “strong women” with good dialogue and soliloquies that give female students character choices. It works for me and it definitely works for them.

Try it yourself. You’ll see. Just remember to choose an interesting clip that is not too long. You need to have a snappy dialogue, whether it’s between two characters or a mocking response from one of them. You could even have students suggest some clips, shows, and / or scenes to use.

So Bunky, don’t let the term “grammar” strike fear into the hearts of your students (or you) ever again. Do some grammar teaching activities using these techniques and grammar could become your favorite lesson type and theirs. If you have any questions, suggestions or additional guidance, please feel free to contact me at: [email protected]

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