Home Forums iTDi TESOL Certificate Highlighting grammatical form Highlighting grammatical form

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    • #6553


      We’ve looked at a number of ways of highlighting form in this lesson. Which of these ways

      • do you already use? (How?)
      • would you like to use? (Why?)

      Post your answer below. You can ask your tutor to review your writing before you post if you like. Remember to read some other teachers’ posts, and add your comments/questions 🙂


    • #7971

      1. Ways of highlighting form that I already use include:

      – Modelling is often a good starting point

      – Boardwork,
      typically with Tables

      – Fingers in oral presentation and/or practice drills, especially during correction/feedback

      – Grammar terminology occasional helps but usually add to students learning load (and confusion!) so it’s important to use familiar terminology or introduce new terms one at a time.

      – Rearranging word ordererror recognition/correction, substitution and transformation exercises to focus on form

      – Identifying true/false or making true sentences to focus on meaning as well as form.

      2. Ways of highlighting form that I would like to use include:

      – Cuisenaire rods, which I enjoyed using on CELTA with Silent Way and found effective with YLs and beginners in the past who benefit from seeing colour-coded structure without grammatical terminology or lots of words they may not yet be able to read/spell and thus find overwhelming.

      I use a mixture of activities and in 1-to-1 or small group classes, select the type of practice to ideally match the learners’ needs and abilities.

      For example, a student that can make sentences but confuses word order in question-forms may benefit from modelling, substitution and transformation drills, with oral correction with fingers, and then written error recognition practice before trying to produce original true sentences (again).

      However, in larger classes, I realise that I don’t really think about it so much but try to vary the activities to some degree. Perhaps a more systematic would be worth considering.

      • #15223

        Rhett Burton

        Modeling is a great starting point. Tables are also very useful for organizing ideas (text) into visual formats that allow students to notice different features. One challenge I have is consolidating tables to focus on forms and link patterns that summarize story arcs and event sequencing over weeks, months, and years. I want to do this because I want to increase the frequency and repetition of content, forms, and vocabulary.

    • #8142

      Barbara Bujtás

      Presenting grammar meaning and form and focusing on grammar are certainly my weakest points. The majority of my students have English lessons at school, those lessons put a lot of emphasis on grammar, whereas I focus mainly on fluency and skills development.
      Sometimes I have to present grammar though, to students who have difficulty understanding grammar in their school lessons with their teachers or sometimes I find it useful.
      I already use:
      -modelling (I try to use meaningful examples within a framework)
      -using fingers (contractions, to signal how many elements a structure consists of, word order)
      -I don’t have Cuisenaire rods, but sometimes I use small objects
      -board work
      -word order exercises: the meaning is often secondary or out of focus, but the task is easy to create 😀
      -sentence transformation combined with a true/false element (for meaning)
      -making true sentences
      I would like to use
      -more boardwork in more organized ways

      I feel I should have a few principles and techniques ready up my sleeve, I have neglected teaching grammar. I should gain practice in improvising meaningful ways of presenting and pracising grammar. The skill of improvising and being spontaneous is necessary for me because I base a lot of my work as a teacher on emergent authentic materials.

      • #8151

        It’s good to notice how our context and students’ needs may influence the teaching skills we develop or neglect.

        I wholeheartedly agree with the need to develop our teaching skillset, perhaps even moreso if our approach is one that focuses more on emergent language and authentic materials.

        Tables can be very helpful and many students enjoy completing them, like a puzzle (as opposed to just copying them from a textbook or the board). Clines (for relative degrees of meaning), timelines (e.g. for tenses), sorting and ranking activities are also great to engage students. I also find it helpful to organise and plan how to use these to help students visualise grammatical ideas.

    • #8165

      Rhett Burton

      These days I have been teaching out of routine and previous learned experience. It is helpful because I am doing what I know works for me and allows for me to focus on other responsibilities. However, on the other side of the coin, I am not investing myself to help students internalize different methods for learning. This is something that I really want to change. I believe that organising my time and energy different (through PPP) that it will help me determine the activities/tasks and methods to best reach the students as they need it though the stages.

      I already use:
      Topic interleaving – I am always presenting the same forms and topics for the students to practice and produce through an emergent syllabus (using what the students used and need to practice) when creating the next course.

      Blended languages – I enjoy enriching the narratives by providing (some) use of the L1 in class. I enjoy it as long as they reflect on what was recasted in order to change their interlanguage.

      Leveled materials – I love an DOGME and focusing on the emergent language that is being used in class. However, I am also love to providing the context and situation to use the language through materials and games.

      Writing – I like when the students write their what needs to be remembered.I like delayed dictations/copying depending on the level of the students.

      I would like:

      Flooded materials – I want to have more access to materials for self-study that are lower than what is learned in class. These flooded readers would highlight what is being learned and how it is being used.

      Situational examples – I want to make use of speaking grids that allow for students to generate language from what is presented in the grid.

      More comprehension check- Using emergent language I sometimes fall into the trap of not providing and physical materials to check comprehension. I want to have more variety of checks through multiple choice, gape fills, matching, etc.

      More variety in CCQ- I want to become more practiced in asking questions that support and enrich the comprehension.

      I want to note that my goal is not not overload myself with planning and inclusion on task because I can. I want to have enough for the task to be effectively completed (nothing more and nothing less)

      • #8176

        Rather than discussing the different, broader teaching methods we use and don’t use, this Activity asks us to refer to the number of ways of highlighting form in this lesson. Then consider which of these ways

        • do you already use? (How?)
        • would you like to use? (Why?)
    • #8467

      Rhett Burton

      Modeling – I am a big believer of modeling. I think this my primary function as a teacher. I model through language, body language, tone and positioning.

      Using Fingers – I like limiting to only finger is very adult-like. I work to use more range of actions through TPR. I do use finger to count the words. I have never used them for contractions. I am not sure if my students would naturally pick up on that.

      Boardwork – I like having students use boardwalk. A lot of my students have challenges with spacing and organizing. These are some of the first things I work on with my students.

      Terminology – I rarely use it. I only use it when the students students have a bird understanding. I do try to use meta-strategies using english to talk about english… instead of terminology.

      Tables – I use tables to organize my content but I haven’t used them too much with my students. This is something that I want to change.

      Cuisenaire rods – I can understand the usefulness of them. But they are quite expensive and I would rather buy other type of materials. I do use block… but never these types. I most likely won’t unless I look at adding them as a key instructional component to my course.

      • #8505

        I like how you provide a lot of modelling, use body language and involve students.

        Using fingers works with kids, like Cuisenaire roads or Lego, to show words in a sentence, etc can definitely work in my experience with primary (age 7+). Although I’ve not tried it with early years (age 3-5) yet I’m curious now to know at what age they can get it. Whenever you’re not sure if something will work, it’s often still worth trying a few times to find out. (Incidentally, I’ve generally used coloured blocks, counters, or other items rather than buy Cuisenaire rods, but would be happy to use them if in my budget or provided.)

        For you, which classes and when do you think would be a good time to try using tables?

    • #9288

      Naoko Amano

      There is an idea that learning English grammar is for preparation for examinations in Japan.
      Japanese students learn English as one of the subject on university entrance exams. They don’t have enough chance to practice using English.

      I don’t want to do the same thing as Japanese schools, so I have tried not to teach grammar. However, once I learn this unit, I knew that I totally have taught English grammar to my students!!

      *Modeling: The course book that I have has many model conversations and some has videos to introduce conversations visually. I introduce them before teaching target grammar.

      *Using Finger: I used fingers to count how many words the sentence have. I introduce each words of sentences with fingers.

      *board work: I write the words or sentences to show what I introduced. I don’t have any rule to write, but I would like to make rules to use the color to make students understand well. I need to find the way!

      I sometimes feel that it takes time to write. At the little kids class, students cannot wait for me. So, I draw fun pictures to get their attention.

      *Tables: I already use tables to show the word order. I use small word cards/flash cards to teach the word order.

      I can do the making sentence game. Kids love this game because it is like a memory game. I also use small dolls to teach pronouns. I didn’t have cuisenaire rods before but I bought it. I would like to use it.

      *Grammar Terminology
      I use grammar terminology when I teach older students like junior high school / high school students. Grammar Terminology help them to understand the grammar. For example, nouns come after preposition.

      I think it is important to teach grammar for speaking. And also, we have to choose proper way for each class or students.

      • #9689

        Thank you for sharing all that, Naoko. I’d love to hear more about how things go with the Cuisenaire rods at some point (although I know you’ve been busy with the transition to online teaching, etc due to the situation with Covid 19)!

    • #9676

      Rhett Burton

      I have been thinking of ways to use tables. I haven’t quite made the adjustments in my curriculum that encourage tables.

      I am testing out different a grid solution, which is modeled via the review of narrow texts, and provides students the opportunity to recall/review learned information and then apply it to the production of new content at the students current level. This is one strategy I use to let students produce what I have presented and students have practiced in previous modules.

      This is a table, but I am hoping that it allows for more flexibility when using topics when producing language.

    • #9691

      I’m looking forward to see how you incorporate tables in the future.

      Can you give an example of how you use your grid (as opposed to tables that are generally used to present structure and highlight fixed vs variable parts of the sentence)?

    • #9694

      Beverly Anne Suarez

      I’ve been using modelling, especially since we give speech tests to students as a way of checking their progress on the textbook that we use. I have also used substitution exercises and true or false questions to check comprehension.

      I would like to use Cuisenaire rods because it visually shows what the grammar form is, and for me, visualizing something makes it easier to understand.

      • #9706

        Always good to keep adding teaching techniques to your toolbox. How do you plan to prepare and use Cuisenaire rods? If your school doesn’t have them, what can you use instead?

    • #9713

      Jessica Sohn

      I already use:
      Board work(mostly ppts)
      Word order exercises (substitution, transformation, word order rearrangements etc)

      I am mostly with the YLs. So, I touch the real basics of grammar. We use a separate grammar book, but it’s all tied to the speaking, writing, and reading book. Our school doesn’t go the Korean-way with grammar, which is simply just memorizing the form. So we can seem slow but, I find it better because, here, the kids just naturally learn the proper grammar through practice. I always try to keep the presentation simple, concise and put more energy in practice and exercise.

      I would like to:
      try using more situation/context in presentation!

      • #9722

        Thank you for sharing, Jessica, and giving us more insides into your classes.

        When the kids learn the grammar through practice, are they able to use it in written and/or spoken form?

        We look forward to seeing you present grammar in context to make it make relevant and meaningful to your learners. Let us know how it goes and/or if you have any questions.

    • #9804

      Masatoshi Shoji

      Teaching grammar is a very difficult task as I used to use grammatical terms.

      • #9816

        Sorry, just to clarify my understanding, but do you mean that you used to use grammatical terms but don’t anymore so you’re no longer so familiar with using them? Or do you mean something else?

    • #9805

      Masatoshi Shoji

      I sometimes use modelling, rearranging word order, and grammatical terminology. As I’m not a native speaker, I always think about accuracy of my examples so that I hesitate to create some examples.

    • #9817

      Good to see you use a range of techniques for teaching grammar and thank you for sharing some of the challenges.

      Other teachers, including myself when I can’t think of a good example quickly, find it helpful to use a good corpus-based/informed dictionary which will contain real-life examples.

      Good grammar books are also very helpful and can save us time. For example, Raymond Muprhy’s English Grammar in Use (Cambridge) is excellent, a world bestseller, and available bilingually in Japanese (as well as other languages).

      What other ways would you like to use to highlight grammatical form?

    • #9821

      Masatoshi Shoji

      I found that book and will order it later. I have Practical English Usage and A Practical English Grammar.
      BTW, I really need to get English Pronunciation book and CD. Once I practiced Manual of American English Pronunciation and British one.
      However, I cannot find them. They are too old, I think. Please recommend some. Thank you.
      In addition, I’m still using grammatical terminology. However, I try to use practice.

      • #9823

        Yes, Swan’s Practical English Usage (Oxford) is also excellent and is where I got to if I can’t find something in English Grammar in Use, which is more learner-friendly.

        These days for pronunciation, I would look for online videos that show learners how to say particular sounds, including the position of the tongue and mouth. English Central has excellent videos AND practice with AI feedback for FREE (although there is a paid tutor option, too)! It’s amazing what they’ve done over the years!


      • #10058

        scott gray

        Depending upon your money if you are looking to show and have the kids see the pronunciation there is an app, Speech tutor that was not so expensive that will play the sounds and you can see the position of the teeth and tongue with movement I got for like 30 dollars for my iPad. It was made for speech therapist’s really but to show kids I thought it was great and beat the flashcards I had with like a 3d picture where the angle shows movement similar to a flip book. I can find out the name of those if you are interested but the app can go on a phone and just popping it out is quite nice and easy.


    • #9822

      Masatoshi Shoji

      Do you know any good corpus website I can easily refer to? Thank you.

    • #9826

      I used to use our University of Birmingham Corpus or the Bringham Young one which was more user-friendly. However, these days, I just tend to use the Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary:

      Here’s an example entry for profitable, which you’ll see is really useful and comprehensive:


      • #10105

        scott gray

        I can also recommend the website Just-the-word.com for teaching them to look for collocations and Google search is also sometimes useful for finding them too.  Just start typing the word and Google will try to guess with what it thinks is frequently possible but make sure to teach them Google is advice and not unbiased.


      • #10107
    • #9829

      Masatoshi Shoji

      Phil, thank you for sharing some resources.
      Now, I do know how to use each resource.
      I sometimes recommend students to use English Central but did not realize there was pronunciation section.
      BTW, Better English Pronunciation with CD is a really good material as they also cover phrases and contractions.
      Anyway, I’ll use English Central to practice pronunciation.

      Thank you.

    • #10057

      scott gray

      I use to varying degrees, Modeling, Boardwalk(Tables*), Error recognition(particularly in worksheets, often as review or hw), and less lately but rearranging word order.

      I would like to use my fingers more, as I have mostly used them with my students for number of syllables in pronouncing or contractions but would like to use them more for parts of a structure or where the accent is in a word.

      I would like to cuisenaire rods more as just have only had the chance to use them for phrasal verbs a time or two and would like to increase my skill particularly there.  Silent Way with the rods and using them to tell a story would also be welcome.

      I haven’t tried IDing True or False statements or having the student make true statements as teaching grammar. I have often used them for icebreakers or 5-minute activities but would like to vary my repertoire


      • #10059

        Good solid repertoire to continue building on 🙂

        What, if anything, determines which ones you draw upon?
        (I ask because I think I’ve become rather ad hoc compared to my earlier years when following a more prescribed methodology in a language school. Whilst it’s good to have the variety, I think that my learners in the past, especially beginners, may have benefitted more from the consistency of techniques and their resultant familiarity.)

      • #10060

        scott gray

        Think of how I feel my connection with kids is and what we have done recently are probably the most influential on what I use. I do believe variety is the spice of life as the saying goes but as John taught me whether you see it as new or different can really be in the eye of the beholder so, I do try to keep it varied but I agree that variety like ‘games’ in classes should be there but not for a game or variety as the reason but a way to make the same new. But, when I taught mainly little kids we followed a kind of rule to do an activity 3 or 4 times in a row and then not in a spaced retrieval sort of way to not devalue the game’s currency and to keep it fresh. We went 3 or 4 as the kids needed that so they weren’t learning 2 things, how to play the game and the content. So the first few times were really training for how to do it and really start to push learning from the 4th or so time.

      • #10061

        Totally agree with all that and also like to run activities/tasks/games 2-4 times, often in succession or within 1-2 months, for the same reasons – to allow students to become familiar with them and then be able to deal with the language more easily.

    • #10104

      scott gray

      Yeah, consistent un-consistency is the way I think. Maybe more Iching or Daoism than teaching methodology but it does make you think and challenge yourself. I do think that people do well with patterns but like muscle training, if you do the same exercise only the body doesn’t respond as well as if you use a variety of exercises in rotations. So I think my teaching is trying to find ways to target the same places like a muscle but in different ways with consistency in a non-consistent way that will help build their learning.  Also, you might enjoy a saying my teacher told me once and I do believe it somewhat is that I can be your teacher or your friend but not both. As a teacher, my job is to make you change for the better whereas your buddy will console and let you get away with those things. So I try to be friendly but I do let them know I have high expectations and although I will ask them to work hard I won’t ask them to do what they don’t have the possibility to do. I guess I am truly a scary teacher like many of my teachers or coaches.

      • #10106

        It seems we share much of the same philosophy and thinking here. Thank you for sharing all that, Scott!

    • #16348

      Aiden HANAE

      I do use modelling a lot, since it’s one of the most effective ways to get across to the young students, it’s always amazing to see how the students suck all the examples up!

      I would like to be able to use board work combined with terminology, mainly because it is one of the parts were I’m not confident in (especially the terminology part), but a situation where combined terminology and board work would work might be for some kids who have trouble learning English through observation, and  want to use forms as a building block.

      • #16355

        Yes, modelling is an excellent starting point with young learners.

        Finger correction and Cuisenaire rods can also help students to understand structure from elementary-age or beginning level adults, without the need for technical terminology.

        Referring to good grammar books will help you develop your knowledge of terminology and how to present it. Murphy’s English Grammar in Use is excellent from high beginner through intermediate and even to some advanced levels (and there are Japanese versions available, too):

        There’s also a beginner Essential Grammar in Use and Advanced Grammar in Use in the series.

    • #16611

      David Booton

      I use:

      modelling, Cuisenaire rods, fingers, substitution and transformation drills, and error correction, grammatical terminology(but only of the simplest terms past/present/future, etc.), time lines, clines.

      However, I don’t use all of them all the time, but these are things that I have done in the past. I have been getting very complacent with teaching grammar and sometimes just go on auto-pilot.  It is not great and I am trying to stop this.  This course is a good way for me to get out of that headspace.

      I don’t use

      tables – I will be honest I don’t even remember if this was a something I was introduced to.  If I was it was quick and done.  I have to do some review for a test for one of my classes so I think I will use them for some drills, sentence creation activities.

      • #16675

        Indeed, it’s always good to hone our teaching skills and go back into our toolboxes, reapplying what we know (or have let fall by the wayside).

        Tables are great and can be used in multiple ways from presentation to a range of practice activities, including getting students to eventually create their own.

    • #16679

      David Booton

      I have, literally in the past week, started using grammar tables.  I am still new to the idea but they are surprisingly good for getting students to see the break down of a sentence to see how they are made.  It has highlighted a new issue for some of my students however; verbs that make no sense with the object.  “I must buy to the store”  Which in some cases the student is just writing out things to fulfill a requirement and not actually paying attention to what they were writing.

      • #16689

        Great to see! Often it’s helpful to develop a colour coding scheme for grammatical categories, too, then later ask the students to describe what they are in their own words. We can look at this more closely in tutorial, too.

    • #16710

      David Booton

      I have colour coded them, and have started putting new vocab on the board for the week, all colour coded and separated by form of speech. I have started by keeping it very simple, phrase, verb, noun, and adjective.  It seems to be working for the majority of the students to understand how each word that is being introduced is used.  Or at least how we are using it in this particular unit.

      • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 2 days ago by David Booton.
    • #16843

      Ketlyn Leva

      I use:

      Modelling, Board work, Fingers, Grammar terms, Word order, Time lines, clines, True or False

      I should include more tables and try to find a way of using rods online

      • #16851

        Good start here, Ketlyn. Please share how you use one or two of the above techniques and why you’d like to use more tables/rods online.

      • #16864

        Ketlyn Leva

        Fingers: I use them to work with sentence order, such as each finger is a word. Or adj+noun order as in English it is different from Portuguese (noun+adj). I usually show the number 3 using fingers so that STS link it to third person singular and add the -S to the verbs.

        Time lines to work with tense contrast like simple past, past continuous and past perfect.

        I’ll try the tables to help an A1 student who is struggling with sentence formation.

      • #16865

        Thank you for adding and sharing that. I like the use of 3 fingers for 3rd person – it’s quick and easy for students to see 🙂

      • #16885

        Ketlyn Leva

        🙂  let me know if it works for you

    • #16862

      Ketlyn Leva




      • This reply was modified 1 week, 2 days ago by Ketlyn Leva.
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