Thursday, 8 July 2010

Teaching English Grammar to English kids!

The title says it all - we need to teach grammar explicitly, it doesn't just happen; Englishpupils know less grammar than many other European pupils and at Secondary level, we pay a price for having a mother tongue which doesn't have Romance language verb endings. We do have complexities of our own - pronunciation and English phrasal verbs for example - but not verb endings and they still have no real grasp of what a verb is quite often. What can we do?
Well, Charlie Berney - teacher of MFL in Wales, member of ALL West of England committee and frequent, talented speaker in our area - led a good session on her recent attempts to be cross-curricular with a difference. Her main difference is that she goes to the SUBJECT and delivers the content in THEIR lesson and Charlie generously provided us with her CD of materials for an English grammar sequence of lessons, dance, cooking and  Geography.
Most interesting was the fact the her English colleague stayed in Charlie's "What is grammar?" lesson in the English department and was devastated to see the reality that we face often - kids do not appear to know what a verb, noun, adjective, pronoun etc actually are, despite the fact that they have been met in Primary school. Surely this trend is only going to get worse as the Literacy hour disappears again??. Interestingly, when Charlie asked the class to tell her what some grammar terms were going to be in English, they came up with spelling and punctuation rules - "i before e, except after c etc."
Charlie kindly allowed us to use all her grammar booklet and powerpoint from our March conference and I am finding it immensely useful now and plan to use it extensively at the beginning of the academic year. I want to see children who are not afraid of the term "verb", never mind - er verbs and "terminaisons" !

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