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Teaching Tips 9

Grammatical terminology
Diagnostic testing
Helping your students to find their way
around the coursebook

Grammatical terminology
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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Diagnostic testing
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 clauses?
- Where is there a model letter of application for a job?
- Which listening skills are developed in unit 6?
- etc..

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 in class.

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