How to teach grammar: a text-based lesson
- Tips & Strategies
When teachers plan a lesson or start to teach one, they suddenly feel overwhelmed. There’s so much you can cover; where do you even start? How do you choose and order your activities? How do you know what will work and what won’t? How do you find tasks to fill your lesson? Or how to present your material so you don’t run overtime?
Here’s the one thing that basically answers all of the questions above and will completely change your teaching: lesson frameworks.
A lesson framework is basically a set pattern of stages for you to follow in your lesson. Different types of lessons have different frameworks. Each framework informs what kind of activity to start with, then what kind of activity to do next, and then how to progress from there; all depending on the type of lesson you want to teach.
Teaching a particular language involves teaching its various skills. The major language skills include: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. The first two are referred to as receptive skills, while the last two are known as productive skills.
As learners receive language and understand it, they do not need to produce it. Receptive skills are also known as passive skills.
As they both require some form of language output, learners produce language. Productive skills are also referred to as active skills.
While there are other structures you can use to teach a lesson, depending on your methodology and techniques, here are the six most common types of frameworks. If executed well, these are pretty much guaranteed to be effective.
As it was mentioned above, each framework has a set structure of stages for you to follow in the lesson.
Let’s have a look at the Receptive Skills (reading or listening) Lesson Framework as an example.
Encourage the students in the context of the lesson. Generally, a good practice for a lead-in is to elicit a keyword relating to the topic, and then give them a pair-speaking activity also relating to the topic. Try to keep the lead-in to be 3-7 minutes. It’s good practice to tie the lead-in with what they’ll be doing in the productive activity.
Vocabulary Clarification/Pre-teaching vocabulary
Teach words (typically 4-7) that might be difficult for the students to understand and that will block their ability to comprehend the main idea and important details of the article.
Reading for gist
Introduce the reading or listening with a comprehension question(s) so the students can practice reading or listening for the main idea.
Vocabulary Clarification/Pre-teaching vocabulary
Teach possible challenging vocabulary for the students to understand after the gist but before the more detailed or specific info reading or listening comprehension questions that will follow.
Reading for details
Give the students further reading or listening practice with more specific comprehension questions. Typical comprehension questions focus on:
Here the students can do some sort of quick activity to help them prepare for the proceeding productive activity i.e.
These activities are optional, and if done, should be done so rather quickly (perhaps 2-5 min tops). Typically, if writing takes place during this stage, it should be done via quick notes rather than full sentences or paragraphs.
Give them an activity that has them practicing a productive skill for fluency, meaning that you want to have activities that promote student-to-student interaction speaking with an uninterrupted flow, or a writing activity that promotes writing at the paragraph level with connected sentences (not just writing notes, bulletin points, or separate individual sentences).
Productive activity 2
Sometimes it’s nice to have two productive activities if time permits. Both could be two writing or two speaking activities, though, might be nice to have, perhaps, one focused on speaking and the other on writing.
Just note, if you have two productive activities, make sure they both focus on fluency development and remember that reading out loud (i.e. something they wrote in the previous productive activity) is NOT a true speaking activity (that would be reading out loud).
Speaking requires coming up with language on the spot, not reading a pre-written script (which would be more focused on pronunciation).
The stages in green are optional; in terms of the vocab focus stages, usually you will do either/or i.e. either pre-teach after or before the gist task but not both. Also, if you do not think there is any blocking vocabulary that needs to be taught, you can skip it. The preparation activity is completely optional.
We look at the typical stages for different types of lessons, such as systems and skills, and extra stages that can be included in any lesson in more detail in our online course. There, we also share different techniques that will help you save time when planning your lessons on a day-to-day basis.
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