Students often say that they understand/know grammar or vocabulary, but are stumped on how to actually use what they know in a conversation. When teaching vocabulary or grammar, it is really helpful to present and practice the language in chunks of speech. These helpful chunks should include the common collocations that are associated with the language. Chunking what you are teaching (including helpful collocations) can really help build a bridge between what students know and what student can say. For example, take a look at this graphic organizer focusing on the noun money:
If I only teach the word ‘money’, students will only know how to use the word ‘money’. However, by incorporating the commonly collocated verbs, the students can begin to practice and gain confidence about how to use it when they are speaking. They can also infer from the collocations some common contexts the word money is used in.
Did you know that the 10 most frequent nouns used (collocated) with “How Many …?” are: people, times, years, hours, children, kids, women, days, votes, men? I used to teach this grammar to talk about countable food like apples, oranges and bananas, but after I found out about the above fact I completely changed my lesson around.
Teaching grammar with the most commonly used words can prepare students for language use in the real world. Try to keep this in mind the next time you plan a vocabulary or grammar lesson :).