When to stop teaching grammar

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I'm curious to know if other teachers have had the same problem as myself and how they combat it. I teach in France, mostly to adults and university students. What I meet is that my students have already had at least 10 years of exposure to English in schools but they can't speak the language. They have had enormous exposure to grammar and to put it in a nutshell, are really weary of grammar teaching which is favoured by the educational structures and some teachers here. They still can't speak the language.......... ! I'm battling with the reliance of some of my colleagues who continue to teach grammar, use controlled teaching, and all the testing methods, and still my students after 2 or 3 years exposure to this method of teaching still can't speak. My question is, when do we stop teaching grammar, when do we start involving students in an interactive mode and how....... ? Can we really continue to teach the present perfect versus the present perfect continuous when most native speakers don't know the difference and few language teachers are also stumped by the problem. What do you do to move the 'grammar weary' to the interactive. I know, role plays and so on. But how to remove them from the talking at' to the interaction. I'm interested to know your ideas as the way we seem to be teaching a second language seems to be still in the grammar based mode. I have some ideas and use them in my teaching but I constantly find that I am struggling with colleagues who are more worried about their lesson plans than helping the students to speak. Commentary would be welcome, providing it's constructive.

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Apparently you're all in the bar......... or you don't care, or you don't have any answers! :-)

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Cheryl - just read your request a week after the conference. Yes - a very common problem. And that is precisely why first of all Prabhu in India and then Dave and I started experimenting with Task-based teaching. When learners are released from the feeling 'I've got to get the grammar right' they gradually build up confidence in their ability to interact in English and flourish. There is lots of stuff and free lesson plans on our site - go to www.willis-elt.co.uk
It needs updating but we are about to do that and if you can send me your email I'll send you my IATEFL presentation on Evaluating tasks.
Good luck with convincing colleagues.
Jane Willis

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Jane missed your presentation at IATEFL though meant to go- can you send me your presentation please?- would be grateful
rsimpson@belfastmet.ac.uk

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Cheryl Meechan I'm facing the same problem your are facing. i teach adults who are employed. My students tells me that they can understand when someone talk but they can not respond (speak)
I have used all skills i have but it seems that am giving up!
Guys i need help in this matter.

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Hi Cheryl, In an ESOL context in the UK/ Ireland we are blessed in that our adult learners can and do speak. It is a greater challenge to focus students on written and even grammatical language work. I teach in FE in Belfast and as most of my students - migrant workers - do indeed work, their spoken language acquisition is often rather quick. I think your organisation plays quite a role in perpetuating this problem. You and other coleagues could suggest changing some syllabus elements for next year.Given meaningful and challenging oral tasks to so, this might give some impetus to more communication in class. Check out Jane's site above.

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Last seen: 1 year 48 weeks ago
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Dear friends,
The problem is commonplace and can be seen almost everywhere. In many places, including my country, language teaching is equal to having a full mastery of grammar knowledge. I think that we should teach grammar as long as the learners need it. Most of the learners know the rules at the conscious level, but they never have a chance to activate them. Therefore, the teacher should try to provide learners with opportunities to activate their grammar knowledge. To do that, the teacher may ask the students to make sentences of their own using the grammar point under consideration or assign them to search for the reading maerials where the point has been used. Of course, if your classes are communicatively oriented, you should not give too much emphasis to grammar.you may use the grammar points as you communicate with the learners or have them use the point in their communication with their friends as part of group work.

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