Teaching Grammar – High School and Adults

High School students and Adults may need a different approach as far as teaching Grammar is concerned.

Our target Population

As I have often said, before we choose the teaching method, we have to consider our target population. Ten-year-olds may not be interested in abstract rules, but high school students, college students and adults are more likely to demand an analytical treatment of the structures of the target language. Grammar exercises often appeal to students who prefer a more analytical learning style. These students need this kind of basic structural activities since they may find chaos and confusion in a a less structured environment. 

Before we deal with High School and College students, let's go back to my previous post on Grammar in Junior High.

So how do we teach Grammar in Junior High?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I think Grammar should be taught systematically (according to a logical sequence) in Junior High.

For example, we should teach Active forms of the Verb before Passive forms, Past Perfect before Condition 3, etc. Therefore, we should go from Structure to Text: We should choose a text that provides many examples of the structure we intend to teach, i.e., we will choose a text only after we have decided what structure we want to teach.

And what happens in High School and College?

For High School or College I suggest a different approach. We should not go from structure to text, but from text to structure. Since the students have already been exposed (hopefully) to all the grammatical structures required by the syllabus in Junior High, we can now use any text in order to review whatever structure appears in the text. We don't need to follow any systematic order.

What is our objective?

At this level, the objective of teaching Grammar is review for reinforcement and remedial purposes.

Let's see how it works in class.

Suppose we are planning to teach Prepositions. How will we approach this subject in Junior High and in High School?

Why have I chosen Prepositions as an example?

Prepositions is one of the most complicated subjects we may have to teach. There are many prepositions and many phrasal verbs and expressions and we cannot even pretend to teach all of them. So what can we do?

In Junior High, I suggest we teach basic prepositions that can be easily taught since we can somehow formulate rules or generalizations.

For example:

Prepositions related to time:

on                for days of the week, e.g., on Monday

at                 for hours, e.g., at 5 o'clock.

in                 for months, years or seasons, e.g., in November, in 2006, in the summer, etc.

We should also teach basic Phrasal Verbs:

For example:

break out,      e.g., The war broke out in 1967.

take care of,   e.g., Let's take care of the children.

We can easly find or write a text that includes the prepositions or phrasal verbs we want to teach.

What will we do with Prepositions in High School or College?

In High School and College, the approach should be different.

We assume students have already been exposed to basic prepositions and our objective is to review, reinforce and enrich their knowledge. Whenever we come across a phrasal verb in the text we are reading, we should stop and analyze its meaning. Since this is a rather difficult subject, at a later stage,it might be a good idea to spend a special lesson to review Prepositions.

I have found a wonderful text, by an unknown author (or at least, unknown to me…) that includes many many prepositions. I have often used it in High School and College. I have found it very useful and my students have greatly enjoyed it.

I will share the text with you in my next post!

For a quick review of Prepositions, please see:

דקדוק אנגלי לדוברי עברית, p 237 – 248.

The New Language Guidebook and Workbook – p 347 – 368.

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