Context of the Problem
Teaching grammar for children is not an easy work. Many times as an English teacher I have to teach something about grammar. How to teach grammar for children is what takes my attention as an ESL teacher at the primary schools. In different ways teachers have search solutions for this problem. The ways of teaching grammar differ from teacher to teacher and trying to find the correct way, they will probably apply different methods to find the best result in children. I have had troubles when teaching grammar to kids, because when I think in grammar I think in the way I was taught; by repetitions of the rules. In my teaching experience I don’t want to have children repeat or memorize rules, I really want to they can use English to communicate and express themselves.
The teaching of grammar in foreign language has been controversial for many years. Each method or approach to teach English gives the level of importance that grammar needs in their syllabi or classroom activities. Ellis (2002) pointed out that in teaching methods such as Grammar Translation, Audiolingualism, Total Physical Response, and situational language teaching, “grammar held pride of place” (p.17). Nevertheless, he also pointed out that the place of grammar in the syllabus has been challenged with the beginning of communicative language teaching and natural methods. He then proposed that a grammar component should be included in the language curriculum to be taught with a communicative task-based component. Also, Ellis (2002) suggested that grammar should only be taught to learners who have already had a substantial lexical knowledge and are able to take part in message-focused tasks. Additionally, he argued that grammar should be taught separately, what means that teachers should not try to integrate it with the task-based component.
For many L2 learners, learning grammar often means learning the rules of grammar and having an intellectual knowledge of grammar. Teachers often believe that this will provide the generative basis on which learners can build their knowledge and will be able to use the language eventually. For them, prescribed rules give a kind of security. Grammar is taught in various ways such as explicitly (rules are clearly stated and pointed out to the students), implicitly (rules are not pointed out but they are expected to be understood implicitly through various forms of exposure), deductively (telling the rules to the students first), inductively (students examining many examples to find out patterns), separated (grammar points or structures are taught in isolation), or integrated (grammar is taught together with other learning activities). It looks like is not a perfect way to teach grammar to apply in all the context, students or teachers, in this research I will focus in the inductive way of teaching grammar as Covert Grammar suggests.
The fundamental principle of Covert Grammar is that showing language learners the grammatical patterns of language rather than telling them about the grammatical patterns allows students to become aware of forms and rules implicitly without the necessity of having to verbalize them. This approach can either by-pass or complement the development of explicit knowledge of L2 by directly developing students’ implicit knowledge (Ellis, 2001). Covert Grammar techniques include guided inductive learning in which students are purposefully managed to discover grammar rules through the physical manipulation of isolated grammar elements.
Slattery and Willis (2001) claim that children learn in a variety of ways that means they learn through watching, through listening, through imitating what they see or hear, through doing various activities or games. To put it simple, children learn by all their senses and they very often make use of their imagination. On the other hand they are not able to understand grammatical rules and language explanations. They tempt to understand language situation by using non-verbal clues. They usually interpret sense of what they hear or read very well without necessarily understanding the particular words. Intonation, gestures, facial expressions, actions and other circumstances help them to find out what that word or phrase probably means. In this way they start to understand what was said. Initially they talk in their mother tongue about what they do, of course – it helps them to feel in safety. It does not matter because the teacher is able to answer the question said in the mother tongue in English and he or she is also able to recast the mother tongue question in English.
What kind of activities can I apply to teach covert grammar through speaking at the public primary schools?
Method and Material
The purpose of this research is to find out the appropriate activities of teaching English Grammar to 35 children from 3rd grade in a Public Primary School. These kids have been learning English since they were in first grade, through the National Program of English in Basic Education, (NEPBE) which has allowed kids to learn and practice English, through their basic education. The purpose of English language teaching in NEPBE is for students to acquire the necessary knowledge to understand and use English in order to recognize, understand, and use common expressions through the development of specific competencies particular to social practices of the language related to the production and interpretation of oral and written texts, pertaining to the Familiar and community, Literary and ludic, and Academic and educational environments. (NEPBE,2010) The group in its majority is integrated by women, and the rest are men, they are between the 8 and 10 years old.
The procedure to follow in this research consists in 2 stages. The first one is to teach a lesson to the group with a covert grammar approach, in which they will have to communicate themselves to express their daily routines, using the present simple, and some time expressions. The class will be recorder to observe the group reaction towards the class. If they like the activities, they will seem to be interested, motivated, and they will be practicing what they learnt by participating in the activities. The second one is evaluate students’ proficiency while talking about their daily routines and the others’ routines.
In this class the students will learn the present simple by talking about their daily routines and using frequency adverbs. First I will show them the phrases in first person, using TPR and a Puppet, the puppet will perform the activity and they will follow him, and say what the puppet said. I brush my teeth, I take a shower, I go to the school, I get dressed, I wake up, I get up. Then, I will provide them a worksheet with the phrases to complete the phrases, and match it with the image that represent them, to check vocabulary understanding. After that by pairs they will talk with a classmate, which of those activities s/he does in the afternoon, at night, or in the morning.
In the second part of the lesson, students will learn the present simple using the third person, as well as the last class using a puppet I will introduced the vocabulary by this time the puppet will report my actions, she brushes her teeth, she wakes up, students will be asked to find the differences in what the puppet report and what teacher said. Then they will practice using the puppet. Puppet said an action and some students will report what puppet said. i.e. Puppet: I brush my teeth, Kid: the puppet brushes his teeth.
The evaluation part consists in observe how students now can say what they do daily and report what their classmates do. They will have a broken telephone game as review and practice about reporting daily routines. Finally they will write their names and some routines in pieces of paper, by teams they will take a piece of paper say the name and the routines that he/she does.
- Instruments: questionaries worksheets with the improvement of the students
- Type of Research: qualitative
I will apply two activities to teach covert grammar through speaking. After that I will apply a questionarie about the how enjoyable was the class or activities for the students.
Complete this section in paragraph form.
Results and Data Analysis
SLATTERY, Mary, WILLIS, Jane. English for Primary Teachers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. 148 p. ISBN 0-19-437563-3
Ellis, R. (2001). The place of grammar instruction in the second/foreign language curriculum. In E.
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