Whether you like it or not, grammar is a
valuable tool for language learners. In order to take advantage
of grammar & rules, students need to know a certain amount
of basic terminology.
You can either introduce the terms gradually
as they come up or give out a terminology matching activity
near the beginning of a course.
For the matching activity the students
could match the term, the definition & an example. For beginner
level students the definition could be given in their native
language. Don't worry if they might already know the terminology
as this will act as revision & increased awareness.
From then on you can start giving them
useful grammatical shortcuts. Check out an
elementary task sheet.
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This type of informal testing
looks at 'diagnosing' the students' language strengths &
weaknesses at the beginning of a course. With the results
of this you can see the overall level & you are then better
able to cater to their specific needs.
Work on the different skills over the first
couple of lessons by giving out different activities to
complete. Make them fun & explain to the group what you
are doing. Take notes on how the group & the individuals
cope & see if their needs match up with what is in the given
coursebook. If it does then all well & good but if not you
will have to supplement & adapt the coursebook. Perhaps
you are lucky enough to be able to choose the coursebook
after the diagnostic period.
This is also used to find out if in fact
all of the students in the group are at the same general
level. Those that are not can then go to a more appropriate
level & class.
It is usually the case that teachers are
given a coursebook & expected to get on & plough through
it. Here we are making the students the centre of the course,
not the coursebook. It is obviously an on-going process
with needs changing as the course progresses.
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Helping your students to find their way
around the coursebook
When you begin a course it's
a good idea to help your students become more familiar with
the new coursebook. They will then be better able to use
it effectively in class & at home as a self- study guide.
Write a list of questions so that the overall
structure is highlighted eg.
- Where can you find a list of irregular verbs?
- What's the topic of unit 5?
- Where can you find an explanation of defining relative
- Where is there a model letter of application for a job?
- Which listening skills are developed in unit 6?
The students then have five minutes to
find the answers. They could then write five more questions
& swap them with a partner.
You could do the task as in the Tip
on scan reading - perhaps making it into a competition.
In the feedback you can point out how they
can use the book at home to preview & review what you do
the Past Teaching Tips