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Remixing a grammatical syllabus

In my previous blogpost for LearningEnglish (Breaking up big grammar), I explained how I deal with big grammar points like ‘Past habits’ or ‘Present Perfect’ that appear in coursebooks with a grammatical syllabus. I was thinking, as teachers often do, about adapting content to learners as part of our lesson planning. But what about the bigger picture? How can we move away from a coursebook’s grammatical syllabus in our course planning?

The problem

The first thing to say is that a grammatical syllabus isn’t necessarily the evil it’s often made out to be (whatever I might say below)! It’s likely to go down well with analytical learners that see the patterns in language, and learners coming from an educational background that places a lot of importance on grammar. When I worked in Italy, for example, many learners felt at home with a grammatical syllabus, as they had grown up studying languages that way.

But… That doesn’t necessarily mean it was the best thing for them in terms of learning to speak English. It’s the old dichotomy of ‘knowing how the language works in theory’ (linguistic competence) vs ‘being able to use the language in practice’ (communicative competence). I’m not debating the importance of grammar itself in learning a foreign language, just whether we should prioritise it as the building blocks of a course.

Anyway, I now teach in Thailand, where most of my adult and teenage learners find the alternative – focusing primarily on meaning and communication, with focus on form where necessary – more motivating. So here are my top 3 ways of remixing the syllabus to move away from a grammatical syllabus…

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

Featured image adapted from:  Image from page 437 of “Textile raw materials and their conversion into yarns… For more information on images on TESOLtoolbox, see Imagery.

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