Tuesday 8 September 2020

Grammar lessons are boring! Or are they?

 I had tried the inductive approach to teaching grammar with my 6 th grade which was very successful and now I wanted to experiment with my grade 7.

I gave a set of 16 sentences as an assignment to my grade 7 and wanted them to group them based on their similarities to have further discussion during the English class.  I had their submissions where they grouped them as statements and questions, simple, compound and complex sentences.  I was thrilled that the kids were able to discover the differences and similarities based on their prior knowledge which now got activated as well as consolidated.  So, can I say two birds with one stone?

During the class I told them that we were not looking at sentence structures, so I wanted them to look at other similarities.  They spoke about figurative language, adjectives, adverbs, imagery because we had completed a chapter on descriptive writing.  

I narrowed down the scope for them and informed the lesson is going to be on grammar.  They responded - statements and questions.  I told them to pick the four interrogative sentences and find how they were different from each other.

I read the sentences loudly to the students and wanted them to pay close attention to a grammar concept which I planned to teach them.  As I was impatient for their answers, I felt butterflies in my stomach but I continued to wait.  

The first contribution came from Sal when he referred without going into detail that it was in the present tense which triggered the conversation.  I applauded the effort and they were all now looking at the sentences with a fresh perspective to discover new information.

Afrah, Izzy, Mooz, Sal and Ruqayya engaged with the material and now actively discussed the sentences among themselves about tenses, present and past.  I did not intervene until I saw them getting stuck or deviating from the topic in discussion.  The learners were able to come up with a clear understanding for simple present and simple past in their own words which was not very different from the conventional definition.  They were now able to not just come up with examples but were able to convert some simple sentences from past to present and vice versa on their own.

We then noticed a few other sentences where the action was not just happening in the present or past but was continuing.  We came to identify the present continuous and the past continuous and then create examples.  There were a few more sentences left to identify, label, define and make examples  - this work has been assigned for the next interesting session.

If students are actively engaged, then learning happens effectively.  Although the inductive approach takes a longer time, I believe it is more efficient in the long run.  In this approach of inductive reasoning, the student is relying on critical thinking to figure out the language rules with active interaction and participation and gain deeper understanding of the language which will be used in their own writing in the future.  Is there anything more a teacher wants from a grammar class?

Naqeeb Sultana

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