This is my third blog post on the topic of “teaching grammar in context.” Many language educators find this core practice the most challenging.
Many ask, “if I’m no longer teaching grammar in isolation, how exactly is grammar addressed?”
I have some thoughts on that topic for you. What we know is that
- research shows us that teaching grammar in isolation has little impact on language acquisition
- people we meet in our social lives report to us that the only things they remember from their language learning experiences are verb charts and conjugations
- the shift to proficiency-based instruction has called us as educators to make communication the focus of language learning, not structure
- the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do statements show us that students do have to have a strong understanding of grammar and structure in order to progress to higher levels of proficiency as illustrated by the visual below:
The most natural way for students to experience grammar patterns or language structures is in context. Begin with unlocking the meaning of a text and then draw students’ attention to the language patterns within the text (much like the PACE model).
Here is a new model I’ve designed to help students unlock language patterns (downloadable by clicking on the image below):
And here’s the student worksheet that goes with it (downloadable by clicking on the image below):
One approach for putting together text that all demonstrates a particular pattern is to look for memes, quotes, or tweets that all show the language patterns in context. There is one example at the top of this post which is a collection of memes that show the present tense of the verb “tener” in Spanish in context.
Here is an example below of a collection of memes that all show the present progressive tense in Spanish in context:
Here’s an example of a collection of tweets that show the use of the imperfect and the conditional in French with the theme of “Si j’étais riche…” Imagine how engaging it might be to students to interpret real world tweets to unlock the language patterns within.
I invite you to visit my webpage on Grammar in Context for additional ideas and resources on the topic: