Teach English Grammar - top tips

Teach English Grammar - top tips

English Grammar doesn’t have to be boring. Present it well and both you and your students might just begin to love lessons on gerunds, infinitives and beyond. Here are some tips for teaching English grammar.

 1. Create a context where the grammar can occur naturally

We remember best when things are organised meaningfully, around a context or theme.

Here are some examples of a grammar area with a linked theme:

  • present tense - mime daily routines e.g. I get up/wash
  • past tense - holidays (bring in sun glasses)
  • present perfect simple for experience - an experience survey: "Have you ever…?"

 2.   Help students get their mouths around the new grammar

Can your students use the new grammar effectively? This is important to establish before sending them off to practise on their own. Let's take the present perfect example from above; 'have you ever...' Before any pair or group practice tasks, ensure that they can form the question correctly, perhaps with these prompts on the board:

  • ski
  • swim with dolphins
  • eat snake

Invite a student to ask another student about 1 of these experiences:
"Have you ever eaten snake?"

Students then form their own survey, practising asking and answering questions with
"Yes I have" or "No I haven’t."  Another quick tip: ensure every student has the chance to speak so you can correct any errors early on.

3.   Help students get their heads around the new grammar

Do your students understand when to use the new language and why? After presenting the language for the present perfect simple, ask a couple of questions, such as:

"Do we know exactly when this happened?" (No, and if we did we’d tend to use the past simple for a finished action in the past: e.g. "I ate snake in Mexico in 2004."

"Am I asking about experiences in the past until now?"
(Yes, for experiences in the past until now, we use the present perfect simple.)


See a short, three minute explainer video below on the present perfect simple vs. the past simple for experience taken from our 20-hour Essential English Grammar course.


4.  Create practice tasks that reinforce both 2 and 3 above

Tasks to help reinforce how to form the new language might include:

a)  jumbled sentences, which students have to re-arrange to make sense
b)  identifying other examples of the form from a text or listening
c)  pairwork, where students ask more questions based on the prompts given in #2 above

Tasks to help reinforce when to use the new language might include:

a)  gapfills: complete the gap with the verb in the correct tense
b)  dialogues: where students provide an appropriate response to one side of a dialogue, completing with the correct tense

Most of our Global English TESOL trainees have limited knowledge of grammar when they start their courses. so if that's you, don't worry.  Get to grips with the basics with our 20-hour Essential English Grammar course. Or step up to our 20-hour Advanced English Grammar course.

Alternatively, put your question to our grammar guru on our Facebook grammar group

  • Author: Louisa Walsh
  • Date: Wednesday 1st October 2014


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