The Role of Grammar in Teaching Young Learners
Children can use grammatical structures very well, they can speak language clearly, but they are often not able to say why they use particular structure. Their success in learning foreign language does not depend on their knowledge of grammar. It is very important to teach grammar in context. For children it is necessary to have lots of opportunities and chances to use the new language in their real lives.
Ways of Teaching Grammar
There are two different ways of teaching new grammatical structure: inductively or deductively.
Inductive grammar - indirect grammar teaching, teacher does not provide grammar rules. There is a text where new grammatical structure is introduced. Children read the text and find out the new structure. Children 's attention is not focused on the structure, but on the text. Children work with the text, they practice new language and the focus does not have to be on the grammar. Children play with the words, sentences and they can take the new grammar in incidentally.
Deductive grammar - explanation of the new grammatical rules and structures to children.
It is important to keep in mind that children are often not able to think in abstract terms, and are still developing mental concepts. This means they may not be able to analyze language through a grammatical perspective. Teachers should try to avoid using meta-language (e.g. passive verb, subject, object) and focus instead on what grammar can do to achieve communication. The teacher can use the native language to make sure the children understand. At first the children should understand the meaning and the use of the structure, then understand the form. New grammar should be frequently recycled.
Stages in Teaching Grammar
There are three stags in teaching grammar: presentation, practice, production.
Presentation should be clear, efficient, enjoyable, interesting, appropriate. It should be achieved through the use of charts, texts, stories, songs, rhymes, dialogs, visuals.
At the stage of practice children should be allowed to use the language in safe environment, they need to practice structures as much as possible. Techniques that allow children to practice grammar rules are: drills, interactive activities, games.
At the stage of production children use the language - sometimes getting things wrong and sometimes getting things right. If teachers use English in their lessons as much as possible, they give children language examples.
Some of the techniques in teaching grammar
Grammar games help children not only gain knowledge but be able to apply and use that learning. During the game, the students are focused on the activity and they absorb the grammar subconsciously. Games increase the cooperation and competition in the classroom. They create bonding between the students, and between the students and teacher. Learning a language requires constant effort and that can be tiring, but there are two good reasons why games should be included in the classroom:
1.Games that are amusing and challenging are highly motivating.
2.Games allow meaningful use of the language in context.
One of the ways to practice imperatives or prepositions with children is playing a game of "Simon says". The teacher uses the TPR. The value of total physical response lies in the fact that young children are not able to cope with abstract concepts but rely on their senses to learn new things. Physically doing something helps the child to understand the language. The difference between reading this sentence in a book: "John is opening the window" and actually performing the task for yourself is immense. Using TPR also means that the teacher can instantly change the pace of his lesson - if children are getting restless or tired, a physical activity can re-energize them.
Since the meaning is an important factor in teaching grammar, it is important to contextualize any grammar point. Songs are one of the most enchanting and culturally rich resources that can easily be used in language classrooms. Songs offer a change from routine classroom activities. They are precious resources to develop students' abilities in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They can be used to teach a variety of language items, such as sentence patterns, vocabulary, pronunciation, rhythm, adjectives and adverbs. Songs create a non-threatening atmosphere for students, who usually are tense when speakingEnglish in a formal classroom setting.
Songs also give new insights into the target culture. They are the means through which cultural themes are presented effectively. Since they provide authentic texts, they are motivating. Prosodic features of the language such as stress, rhythm, intonation are presented through songs, thus through using them the language which is cut up into a series of structural points becomes a whole again. Most songs, especially folk songs, follow a regularly repeated verse form, with rhyme, and have a series of other discourse features, which make them easy to follow.
Characteristics of a young learner | Differences in teaching children and adults | Types of learners | Questions for discussion and practical tasks | Teaching reading to young learners | Teaching listening to young learners | Formation of the basics of intercultural communication | Tips for writing lesson plans | Knowledge. | Evaluation. |