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Using Effective Methods to Teach Grammar to the Adult ESL Learners.

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Using Effective Methods to Teach Grammar to the Adult ESL Learners Chang,Yun-Ting (Sharon) BLMC 501.01 Dr. Michael Reed Nov.13, 2003 Language is one of the fundamental traits distinguishing human beings from the lower orders of life on earth. Most people agree that the ability of language use has helped mankind to climb the evolutionary ladder; therefore, language use is an essential component to people's life in society. Grammar is a part of language and it plays an important role in language use. According to Weaver (1979: 3), the study of grammar will not only help people become better language users, but also effective listeners, speakers, readers, and writers. As a result, grammar has a traditionally central role in language teaching. Recently, many researchers have focused on the notion of how to teach grammar effectively to children and adults. However a learner's variations may influence grammar learning and teaching such as age, sex, previous language learning, literacy, socio-cultural background and so on. For instance, unlike children who have cognitive advantages in learning a new language, an adult ESL learner often tends to use formal rules in language learning (Harley 1986:14). Due to the uniqueness of each language learner, teachers have to develop different methods in teaching grammar based on students' needs. Therefore, this paper will focus on the area of teaching grammar by using effective methods to the adult ESL learners. ...read more.


With the explanation of the verb phrase and noun phrase, students can understand better the meaning of the noun phrase and verb phrase. Regarding the second area of teaching sentence structures, in the ESL classroom, students have typically been taught only simple sentences, not embedded structures (Abraham 1979: 5). Grammar texts naturally focus on simple patterns and are carefully edited to minimize the use of complicated sentences. However, students are aware that they have difficulties in reading newspapers, magazines, and textbooks when they involve into structures of real-world English. Insufficient vocabulary may be one of the problems, but teachers can not ignore that students need to be helped in understanding the deep structures of complex sentences. Therefore, teaching structural patterns of complex sentences is the first effective method to be used in classrooms. The purpose of teaching structures to adult ESL learners is to help them recognize the structural patterns of complex English sentences, understand the meaning associated with those patterns, and begin to produce sentences (Abraham 1979: 5). As students increase their awareness of the various structural patterns of sentences, they will improve not only their grammar but also writing skills because the ability of recognizing the sentence structures is enhanced. How do the teachers teach sentence patterns in class? Abraham states (1979: 7) that in the first few classes, students review the simple structural patterns and later diagram techniques that will be taught to demonstrate the relationships among the elements of complex sentences. ...read more.


encourage an inductive approach to teach grammatical rules and principles because grammar rules can be best explained when they are applied to examples. It is helpful for learners to invent or modify those illustrated rules by finding the clues of sentence patterns from context. Learning grammar by an inductive way often involves providing a lot of examples so that patterns of usage can be seen. Teachers and students will find a variety of exercises such as gap filling, rewriting, cloze, and multiple choices, which can be used in classrooms. In addition, some activities that involve problem-solving, observation, and awareness raising activities are also helpful for learners to be aware of and recognize some grammar rules (Carter, Hughes, and McCarthy 2000: 4). Exploring grammar in context can help learners to learn more inductively and encourage them to be more independent in learning grammar. Students will develop the skills they need beyond the classroom when they work on their own. In conclusion, teaching and learning grammar is not an easy task for teachers and students. Therefore, it is important for teachers to use effective methods for teaching grammar to adult learners in the ESL classrooms. According to the above, providing grammatical explanation, learning sentence structures, and exploring grammar in context are three effective methods that were presented in this paper. From my personal experience of learning grammar, I strongly recommend learning sentence structures because it is a very helpful approach. However, there is not a best method to teach grammar, the only effective method is the one that fit the students' need. ...read more.

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