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Breaking up Big Grammar

Unit 1: Present simple, present continuous and present habits; present perfect simple and present perfect continuous. Unit 2: Past simple and past continuous; Past perfect simple and past perfect continuous…

That’s the coursebook that I’m currently using with my teenage General English class. Needless to say, it follows a very structural syllabus. It has other bits – the four skills, vocabulary and some pretty good life skills bits, but on the whole, it all seems like a pretext for those Big Grammar points.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against grammar, but I do agree with Lightbown and Spada’s ‘Get it right in the end‘ position on language acquisition – primary focus on meaning with focus on form in meaningful contexts. To cut a long story short, let’s just say the treatment of grammar in this coursebook…

  • …isn’t very relevant to my learners’ motivations, needs or level
  • …won’t necessarily make learners more communicatively competent
  • …is given too much emphasis in the syllabus

When I first started teaching, I wouldn’t have known what to do with it. I DIDN’T! I still remember my first week of summer school, struggling through a unit on the Present Perfect… those poor students!

So what do I do now?

Read the rest of my blog post on British Council’s TeachingEnglish website.

Featured image adapted from: Compressor and jackhammer for drilling rock preparatory to shooting explosives, Lassen National Forest, California and hood_19948r . For more information on images on TESOLtoolbox, see Imagery.

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