When teaching grammar, I find that teachers often (myself included of course!) have a kid-in-a-candy-store mentality when choosing what parts of a specific structure to teach, i.e., you try to teach everything in one go. You run into to the shop and grab all the candy you can carry (In this metaphor, “candy” represents the significant aspects of a grammar point) and then proceed to encourage your students to eat all of it in one sitting (You following me on this candy journey?). What are the results–a terrible stomach ache! (See what I did there?)
So, how can you prevent gastro-intenstinal-mental-candy-grammar-overload? One solution is focusing on the ‘learning challenge’ – the aspect of Form/ Meaning/ Use/Pronunciation of that grammar point that students typically have the most trouble with. This is very level specific and as you are starting out with students, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly. However, the more you get to know your students and students of particular levels it becomes easier and easier to sort this kind of thing out.
In order to make sure I remember to focus on this, I research grammar before each lesson specifically focusing on my students’ needs. I even have a chart that I fill out (a bit nerdy, I know, but it is very effective!)
In a nutshell, the chart encourages me to think about what parts of FUMP my students have trouble with, how I am going to deal with that trouble and so what parts of FUMP I am going to teach on that day. Then, after my lesson, I can assess if that aspect is still challenging to them and teach it again in a different way, or take notes about the new challenges that arose in the lesson. This gets me focused on exactly what my students need and can help both me and the students keep track of habitual errors.
In conclusion, candy is great, but the amount you eat needs to be moderated. The same can be said of the amount of grammar you teach in one lesson :).