One step at a time

 

We are almost at the finish line for my participants’ first grammar lessons. Whew! We are teaching Beginners right now, so it is fun, but also challenging. They can really feel the language barrier.

It has been a real pleasure to watch their lessons, though. What an amazing group of teachers! They are so sensitive to the students’ needs and are constantly in motion to provide help, support and clarification from start to finish. Their lessons are about 60 minutes long, but they feel as if they have run a marathon by the end!

After my participants have practice teaching, we have a feedback session in which the teachers can reflect and make specific goals for their next lessons based on what went well or what needed to be adjusted. In the feedback session today one of my teachers had a wonderful realization about teaching grammar: teach one thing at a time.

She had chosen a broad topic for the lesson (Wh-questions) which caused the students to ask a million and one questions about every which way the grammar could be used in spoken and written form. She realized that all these questions didn’t come from confusion about the target language (making a question), but from the fact that the lesson was on every way to use the grammar and the students were trying to sort it all out (Why is it “where do you live?” not “where are you live?”, Why is the difference between “what did you eat?” and “what do you eat?”). They had seen and come into contact with this grammar many times, but all the different ways to use it were mixed together in a big Wh-question stew. So, in feedback the teacher hit the nail on the head and knew that all the questions came from this mixing and not from her speaking too fast or a lack of experience with question making.

In the end she made a great goal for her next lesson: Choose a specific piece of target language to focus on and in consequent lessons build on that target language to incorporate more aspects of that grammar. For example, if I am teaching  simple past, first I will start with -ed verbs. The next lesson I can incorporate irregular verbs, then questions and so on…one step at a time.

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