Grammar

Grammar assignment

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Students are always worried about grammar. There is a consensus of opinion that they need to study a lot more on their grammar. Of course, a teacher who does not know grammar would seem a bit strange, and they will be asked about it and will at times have to highlight it in the course of their teaching; once they are over that I feel the teacher should, in essence, focus on providing information about the students’ specific goals so that acquisition activities can focus on the topics and situations most relevant to the students’ needs. It can be shown that “we determine the situations in which they will use the target language and the sorts of topics they will have to communicate about” notwithstanding “we do not organize the activities of the class about a grammatical syllabus” (Krashen and Terrell 1983:71). All the same, on my TEFL course I had to complete a grammar assignment. I have added it here for you guys to get a feel of what is involved which is not just knowing how the grammar point is formed.

Grammar Assignment

Form

Past perfect tense in the if clause                  and would have + past participle 

(had + past participle)                                  the other part of the sentence

Example

If you had asked me                                      I would have told you

Real situation = you didn’t ask me, so I didn’t tell you.

Use

When do we use 3rd conditional?

We use the 3rd conditional to talk about –       regret, wishes, hindsight

Meaning

*Unreal past situation (imagining the impossible): to talk about hypothetical past situations. The speaker is dreaming of or imagining a different past. But the past cannot be changed.

*The conditional may be with a negative. In the case of a negative with the past tense, the opposite of what is said is true, that what was said in the negative did, in fact, happen, like ‘If it had not rained…’, meaning it did rain.

*You must watch the tense; maybe it is in the past, even though a conditional sentence. If the verb is in the past perfect tense, it can refer to something that did not happen in the past.

Example

‘If I had known I would have told you’.

Real situation = I didn’t know. I didn’t tell you

* The if sentence that describes the past, describes something different from what happened,

Example

‘ If we hadn’t invented paper we wouldn’t have had newspapers; in fact, we did invent newspapers.

When the time referred to is the same in both clauses, we have:

‘If he had done this (or ‘Had he done this’), he would have sinned’; ‘Had we done this, we should have let you know.’

Real situation = He didn’t do this, so he didn’t sin.

*Strategy: When you hear an ‘if’, you must think that this is a conditional and that if the sentence is positive, then the speaker means the situation never happened or has not yet happened and if it is negative and in the past, then the situation did happen. Don’t forget the inverted form of the conditional, like ‘Had it not rained…’ for ‘If it had not rained…’; in both cases, they are of course the same, it did rain!

Pronunciation (problems with)

Example

If  (1) you’d listened you (2) wouldn’t have failed the exam.

If you (3) hadn’t gone I would have spoke with you.

(1) The pronunciation of  YOU + HAD when contracted = YOU’D with the /d/ sound.

(2) The pronunciation of WOULD + NOT when contracted = WOULDN”T with the /nt/ sound.

(3) The pronunciation of HAD + NOT when contracted = HADN”T with the /nt/ sound.

Mistakes that can be made

Different structures using conditionals makes for different meanings.

Example (Second conditional)

If I were rich I would spend my time traveling.

This sentence is talking about unreal or improbable situations now or in the future.

CORRECT example using (Third conditional)

I f I had been rich I would have spent time traveling

The speaker is dreaming of or imagining a different past. But the past cannot be changed.

Example

If my father hadn’t met my mother I wouldn’t be here now.

This sentence is talking about the present situation that is no longer possible because of the way things have turned out.

Comprehension checking questions

If  I hadn’t gone out  last night          I wouldn’t have crashed my car

Did I stay in last night?

Did I go out in my car last night?

Did I get home safely last night?

Did I crash my car last night?

Was my car damaged yesterday afternoon?

Is my car damaged now?

Did I go out then crash my car?

Did I crash my car then go out?

Real situation: I went out last night and crashed my car.

(b) If Jeff had gotten up early, he wouldnt have missed the plane

Did Jeff get up early?

Did Jeff miss the plane?

Real situation: John didn’t get up early, so he missed the plane.

The grammatical form changes from the unreal to the real in the answers to a conditional sentence.

Exercise (Testing Point)

*Strategy: When you hear an ‘if’, you must think that this is a conditional, and that if the sentence is positive, then the speaker means the situation never happened or has not yet happened and if it is negative and in the past, then the situation did happen. Don’t forget the inverted form of the conditional, like ‘Had it not rained…’ for ‘If it had not rained…’; in both cases, they are of course the same, it did rain!

Example: If the children had been better fed, they would not have fallen ill.

(A) The children became sick.

(B) Children were not fed and that made them ill.

(C) It was wrong for them to feed the children.

(D) Even though they were well fed the children fell ill.

Correct Answer: A

Explanation: The result of the situation was that the children fell ill, or became sick, but not as in B, because they were not fed, but because they were not ‘better’ fed. The condition was that they were not fed well, and if they had been they might not have fallen sick.

Complete the dialogues

(1)

A: My shirt is too small.

B: Did you throw away the receipt?

A: No, I’ve still got it. Why?

B: If you ______________ you wouldn’t have been able to take it back to the shop.

(2)

A: I got drunk last night and got into work late.

B: You shouldn’t drink so much.

A: If ________________ so much last night I wouldn’t have been late this morning.

Write a sentence for this situation

You are upset because last night you said ‘you are stupid’ to a friend. Your friend walked out of the restaurant very angry. Use the third conditional to imagine a different past.

If I ____________________________ I _____________________________________

Use of special conditional structure

Example: __________ , we wouldn’t have gone to the beach.

(A) If it rains

(B) Had it rained

(C) It rained

(D) If it has rained

Correct answer: B

Explanation: The sentence is conditional, as can be seen by ‘would’ in the main clause. The subordinate clause could begin with ‘if’ ; ‘If it had rained’ to be parallel with ‘would not have gone’. However, an alternative structure is the inverted form without ‘if’ , ‘Had it rained’.

Activity (Desert Island Game)

The teacher outlines a situation:

The story

A man went out in his boat and there was a storm, he could not get back to the harbour because the engine was broken and the sails ripped in the wind. He was blown hundreds of miles off course. He landed on a desert island with no supplies, food or radio equipment.

Students’ Job

The students must decide which 10 things he should have done or shouldn’t have done that would have helped him; being on a desert island using third conditional.

The students in their groups must justify their answers.

List of resources

A-Z of English grammar & usage by Geoffrey Leech – Longman

Practical English Usage – Michael Swan – Oxford University Press

English grammar in use – Raymond Murphy –Cambridge University Press

Would you select prescriptive or descriptive method of teaching grammar? Give reasons?

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There are, of course, different ideas from different people and no method can be thought of as the ultimate for learning. Although this is said, I would certainly lean towards a more descriptive method of teaching. A descriptive method can relate to the abundance of people who speak the language where it is noticed that in the global world mostly everyone needs to speak some sort of English. This also relates to countries which are very multicultural. We can not say that every one of these conversers speaks complete standard English. I will keep away from saying correct English as I think within reason there is no exact or correct way to speak. A descriptive method of teaching can be favored which allows a teacher to extract exact meaning from conversation not extracting from sentences as this could be relating back to a prescriptive form where there is a formal education that does not intrinsically allow for students’ conversational construction. One question would be: does the speaker need to be perfect grammatically to get their message across?

England, you would think after many years of using the language, the population would adhere to a ‘standard’ form of speech, but it is probably spoken natively by about 10% of the population. This was a guesstimate by Peter Trudgill. So, it shows simply being a native speaker of English is not a qualification for setting up as an EFL teacher; however well you speak it. The students, as well as the teacher, need to be aware of the situation they are in and how they should use their language the best. A language teacher can teach the students a prescriptive grammar, but on the whole grammar and language is continually in transgression. The importance of English as the language of communication nationally and internationally must input the importance of meaning. For example, Stephen Krashen wrote,”acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language – natural communication – in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding.” (S. Krashen, 1981)

Of course, there are a few problems with prescriptive grammar as it only prescribes to one way of speaking. This could well be a model to rely on and teachers would be wrong to ignore the standard grammar, but to say that an English speaking person is wrong in the way they colloquially speak could well lower some learning ability. Descriptive linguistics will tell you that they do not raise questions about who is right and who is wrong, or about who has the right to adjudicate. There will be teachers and parents who will certainly tell you to speak properly, but in most cases, this would be when it is more formal occasions where you must be polite. This does mean that a person will always be in a formal occasion where ‘standard’ English is needed.  There is a time and a place for using formal and non-formal language. The students need also to work this out for themselves. They need to be problem solvers. The teacher needs to put them in these social positions through role-play so the students can find out for themselves how to act. This perspective views teaching as a “conversation” in which teachers and students learn together through a process of negotiation with the curriculum to develop a shared view of the world

English is very heavily codified for non-native learners. Prescriptive grammar actually takes away the forms of English that a lot of other people use. Of course, the use of grammar is to get the right point across. For example, if someone is on the phone and they asked for a pencil. An answer could be ‘a pencil is on the table’. Although this answers the question the appropriateness of the answer is not sufficient.  This relates to the meaning of grammar and how we use the language. People do use different structures. There is one problem that students will take their dictionary into the class and once they have a problem they will consult it. This does not accept their authority on meaning or grammar. For example, students will learn the ‘dead’ which is the right word for someone who has died. The sentence ‘he is dead’ is correct grammatically but would a policeman say this to the unfortunate person who he has to tell about their unfortunate relative. He, of course, would choose his words carefully as to try to lessen the strength of the sentence using ‘he has passed away’. From this little example, it is very clear that the children must be taught English and when to use it. Students should be taught that language varies. This shows the movement away from the prescriptive grammar. There is certainly a flexibility in the language and the choices of sentences for every occasion and how they and their ideas are perceived by the receiver. It has also to be said that people do not speak in complete sentences and can jump from one subject to another rapidly.  Students need to be aware of speaking appropriately in different contexts, adapting their talk for a range of purposes and audiences including variants of English regionally spoken. Pupils should be taught about the variations in written English and how they differ from spoken language, and to distinguish varying degrees of formality, selecting appropriately for a task.

Focusing on communication in the classroom, the interactionist theory of teaching can be mentioned here. Learning a language in the classroom is essentially through interaction and interpersonal activity where the teacher can make sense of and respond to the behaviour of their students. Lessons can still involve using a certain grammar point, but this can be learnt subconsciously. A lot of language acquisition takes place through conversational interaction the students have. The students can work together to achieve a context and meaning to the lesson with the teacher as the facilitator. This communicative approach to learning has interaction as an important factor which supports language learning. The learning strategies for the students are where they use their teacher and their peers to further their language acquisition. This interaction can be vastly beneficial to the students’ natural acquisition. This means that the students can take control of their learning. The teacher can help [1]learners to use communication strategies as a way to negotiate meaning. This will not only help their comprehension but also help them learn new words. The students, then, have an opportunity to talk in their second language. Therefore, this highlights a teacher’s teaching methodology which should provide more chances for students to interact with each other as well as with the teacher. The teacher also has to recognize that while giving the students more freedom, the communicational input is beneficial at a right level that empowers the enthusiasm to work and mix in a group.

To conclude, I would select a descriptive teaching method as it allows the students to communicate in situations that show how they are aware of how to act. This gives the teacher the chance to see the way they are working and learning. It makes the language available to be understood and shown out in the open. This gives the students more opportunity to see the language at work instead of just written on paper.

(1222 Words)


[1] Yule and Tarone, 1991. Yule and Tarone allied with the interactionist theory.

Give reasons for your viewpoint about the place of grammar and vocabulary in IELTS preparation

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The first aspect of IELTS preparation is that candidates should only enter the course if they are at least intermediate level of proficiency in the English language, so at this point, they should be conversant with the features of grammar and vocabulary. I think it is the teacher’s job to emphasise improving candidates’ general proficiency of these features without inundating them with too much grammar and vocabulary.  I think there needs to be an overall consolidation of the system of grammar, vocabulary, and also pronunciation. In my viewpoint, I think the aim of the IELTS preparation course should be to build vocabulary in the topic areas to enable candidates to comprehend vocabulary they will encounter in the reading and listening sections and to correctly use vocabulary in the writing and speaking sections. I think the underlying design of teaching IELTS preparation and the distinctive core methodology is teaching ‘in context’. The language needs to be delivered ‘in context’ in a manner that is as authentic as possible.

Grammar and vocabulary are important for the test. I think the potential for classroom lessons where grammar and vocabulary are highlighted and discussed in interesting communicative activities is vital to learning. I think it is the teacher’s choices of task-based, often inter-related skills activities, involving IELTS-relevant micro-skills of the test that help promote grammar and vocabulary.

Outside class, I would advocate reading for pleasure with the candidates having an opportunity to discuss their reading in the class. This all has to do with changing learning patterns.  For example, some students are taught grammar which is deciphered while they sit down and listen to the teacher. They need to put new words into context, know what part of speech it is, and break them down into syllables and stress. In the test, they may encounter words they do not understand. A simple reading of the text can put the word into context Furthermore, candidates should learn, practice, and use their new language forms in contemporary, realistic situations. Candidates need to build confidence with their grammar and vocabulary through clear course focus and goals helped by the teacher.

I think grammar and vocabulary cannot be avoided. If the teacher has a student-centered lesson, with the help of the teacher, grammar and vocabulary can be learned through the students undertaking meaningful tasks.

References:

http://www.ielts.org/

http://www.ielts.org/404error.aspx?aspxerrorpath=/article1.aspx

http://www.britishcouncil.org/

http://www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/index.htm

http://www.idp.com/

Explain the difference between prefix and suffix

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A common term for building up words is affixation. This involves adding to the front and rear of a word to make others. For this essay, affixation highlights the use of prefixes and suffixes to words. You put the prefix at the front of a word, for example ‘un’ in ‘untidy’. Here tidy is a verb that becomes the adjective, untidy. Suffix can be put at the end of the word, for example, ‘untidiness’ but notice the spelling. So, from this quick example of the word ‘tidy’ it can be seen to have a prefix, suffix or both. I will expand on the thought of inserting extra morphemes to change a word. That is, we can see that the word is built up this way in our lexicon (the formal term for our mental dictionary which contains morphemes and the rules for their combination).

To begin with and to give more meaning to the above explanation and make a distinction, I will first talk about suffixes. They are not words on their own so they can not stand on their own. Its job is to come at the end of a word. Once put at the end it changes the form of the word thus changing its meaning. The verb  ‘govern’ is not the same meaning as the noun ‘government’. This shows the conversion of word, not only the verb into noun (entertain –entertainment), but  also nouns to adjectives (certain – certainty). This is not forgetting that regular verbs which represent past tense are suffixed by ‘ed’. A suffix can be derivational or inflectional. An example is the word ‘development’ which a suffix ‘ment’ is added. In this case ‘ment’ is a derivational suffix. It should be noted that derivational affixes can be either prefixes or suffixes in ENGLISH. So, [un-] is a derivational prefix, while [-ment] is a derivational suffix. By adding ‘ment’ onto the word ‘develop’ we can make another word; ‘development’. By adding the suffix we have changed the verb ‘develop’ into a now ‘development’. We can say that if the suffix changes the part of speech is it derivational. Of course with this later example we can see that two suffix can be added namely ‘ment’ and ‘s’. [-s] simply makes the noun plural. It doesn’t change the part of speech and create a brand new word in the same way that adding [-ment] to [govern] did. The difference is that [-ment] is a derivational suffix, while plural [-s] is an inflectional suffix In the other case for the inflectional suffix the word ‘developments’ with the added suffixes only gives the word a plural meaning. In the other case for the inflectional suffix the word ‘developments’ with the added suffixes only gives the word a plural meaning. This could be said for nearly all nouns that a suffix ‘s’ changes its meaning, although it is known that there are uncountable nouns. This could be said for nearly all nouns that a suffix ‘s’ changes its meaning, although it is known that there are uncountable nouns.  

We find that prefix has the same characteristics of a suffix but of course, it appears at the front of words. It is seen and acknowledged that by modifying the word it changes its meaning (tend – attend)., although there can be examples where the part of speech stays the same as in ‘kind’ and ‘unkind’ which still stays an adjective but changes the positive and negative qualities,

In this essay, I have given an introductory illustration of prefixes and suffixes. By learning about these word builders we can see how vocabulary can be built up into an Immense amount of words but also scale down to unearth the root of the word by taking away the additions. This leads one to have a better understanding of the working of a language.

Workshop Title: SWBAT (student will be able to..)

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(471 words)

After the workshop, please take a few minutes to jot down any ideas, teaching tips or techniques, etc that were covered, and which you felt were useful to you. How was the content of the workshop relevant to the courses that you teach? What did you gain from attending this session?

The main point I got from this workshop was about having objectives in my lessons. If I do not have objectives, and objectives that I want the students to achieve the lesson does not really have a flow and a definite conclusion. Sometimes a teacher can go through the exercise book and feel they have achieved their quota of the language learning book but has not really focused on the students achieving a goal for that lesson which is to be using the vocabulary, grammar and language speaking associated with that lesson.

I think what I got from this workshop was to be more focused on the students’ needs, their use of English language and achieving goals. The workshop made me think more about the book I use. I recognized more how the Interchange book is structured into cycles. This is that the students have a snapshot, conversation, grammar focus, and listening to assist them with their learning and thus at the end of the cycle, it should give them a freer practice to make sure they can use their newly acquired English language.

For myself, I try to get as much as I can out of each English language lesson I teach. With the information I have been given by the workshop host, I see our team of teachers are finding their way to the end of a cycle. However, there may be a question about objectives being reached for each student. I think from what the workshop talked about is that teachers should try to focus more on students’ objectives. This is the acronym SWBATs. The crux of the workshop was Students Will Be Able To’.

I think SWBAT is a focal point for me. I should be able at the end of the cycle in the book as well as the end of each lesson be able to see and hear the students using the grammar and vocabulary which I have been teaching them, hopefully without major problems. I need to know that each student knew their objectives at the start, worked through the class and hopefully achieved them by the end.

To conclude, what I took from the workshop was that teachers should remember to focus on their objectives while giving students objectives, so in the end there is a purpose to the lesson and a feeling of achievement. Thus, all students will achieve their goal of ‘students will be able to’. and teacher will be asking each other, ‘what are your SWBATs for today’s class?