Twists to old grammar traditions!

I can’t believe it’s already mid-October and we’ve been back to school for almost a month now! It’s been a really productive time with lots of projects, hands-on activities and class work! Apart from the joys of creativity though, being back in full school mode makes it increasingly difficult to find time to write – hopefully I’ll be able to write more from now on! I’ve been teaching a lot of different classes this year, but one thing that remains the same in all of them is the old-time classic grammar part. It’s everyone’s least favourite, too, since it often implies studying and -interesting??- exercises. I always look for new ways to introduce grammar points, especially ways that require no-prep at all. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make everyday objects the stars of the show: I really believe in the enthusiasm and spontaneity of the moment, especially when teaching grammar. And one of the things that I really love using is everyday objects. Take paper for example. You can use it to teach have got/be (Paper dolls/faces), tenses (A day in the life of a piece of paper), Passive Voice (The Life Cycle of Paper), Gerunds/Infinitives (The Paper Boy’s ambitions etc). Accordingly, it’s so much more fun to tell the life of a pencil/ruler/eraser etc than the life of Bob.
  • Use magic balls: I’ve always been a games lover, but I never thought a little green ball would actually do wonders in class. There are so many ball games you can play – even practising the form of a tense is more interesting when there is a magic ball involved!My favourite ball games are “Toss and Correct/Toss and Tell” and “My Magic Ball’s Journey”. In the first one, my kids either correct a mistake I’ve made or respond to a question I’ve asked. In the second one, they choose a country they like. They have to imagine they live there and know everything about that place. I then group them to continents and they need to pass the ball to each other saying one thing about their country.
  • Turn the students into teachers: Having mini-teachers when teaching grammar allows you to  really see things from your students’ perspective and involve them in the teaching process.  Their “duties” could involve anything, from creating exercises/worksheets for their peers to making their own “Tutor” videos on the grammar material you’re covering.
  • Turn grammar points into mystery missions: Use your school’s noticeboard to assign special grammar missions for your class to go to. I normally give my kids envelopes in class or assign them a riddle which they have to solve!
  • Create a class game: It’s always exciting to ask your students to create their own games either online or not. Some of the sites I love using is classtoolsnet, triptico plus (which now only has certain resources available for free) and learningapps.org. If you’re concerned about time issues, you can have a “Game Generator” or an “Idea Machine” for every week of the year.
  • Tell someone else’s life: One of the first grammar lessons I ever taught on Present Tenses told the life of Tobby the Zombie. Ever since, Tobby features in many grammar lessons as well as my friend the “Grumpy Grammar” boy who always complains about grammar and makes tons of mistakes!
  • Add a “but” at the end of your sentences!: Sometimes it takes a small word only to transform a lesson. Start by adapting the sentences of an exercise by adding the word “but” at the end. The same works with other conjunctions such as”because”, “as”, “since” etc. You can then extend your additions to role plays, speaking games (Add “but” to everything you say”) etc.
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