Monday, March 9, 2015

Grammar Teaching: A Small Rant

teaching grammar

So, I'm just preparing a lesson on using Modal Passive Verbs using Touchstone Level 4, chapter 5 and I was searching around online for some resources. I wanted to bone up on my own understanding of the topic since I have a general knowledge of it but I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Plus, I checked the videos over on Youtube to see if there was any fabulous explanation of the topic from a teacher better than I since I think that maybe my students get tired of seeing my face only, day after day after day (some of them have me for 6 hours/week).

Here's what I found: so many terrible videos such as this one and various websites which make the same fatal error (thankfully a site like this one does slightly better: BBC World Service Learning English).

While they do do a decent job of explaining the forms and how to convert a sentence from the active voice to the passive voice, they offer no explanation of WHY you would want to do this. In what situation you SHOULD do this. CONTEXT. It's all about the context is what I learned from doing the Celta and Delta courses and sadly, it seems that many people making the videos and doing the websites haven't figured this out.

It is totally, totally useless to teach forms to students without a context for how they can actually use it, in real-life.  Thankfully, Touchstone does quite a decent job of it and for the chapter on passive modal verbs, they have chosen rules and regulations as the topic, which fits nicely together. The students can talk about things such as legal drinking ages and at what age people should get married. It's not often that I have occasion to rant about how English grammar is taught to students who are learning English, but this one makes me feel so distressed. SO distressed. Am I the only one who feels that many teachers are doing a huge disservice to their students?

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