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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > How to deal with tons of grammar without "killing" the students?    

How to deal with tons of grammar without "killing" the students?


How to deal with tons of grammar without "killing" the students?

I have just started the school semester and next week Ill finish the first lesson with my 5 classes (2 elementary, 1 high intermediate and 2 advanced) but the problem is: the first lesson is followed by a complete review of the previous book grammar content.

I asked them to read the grammar in their books (some have up to 18 pages, with 5 or 6 important topics!) and Im preparing boardgames with the topics Ill review with each class.  I thought of dividing the class into groups of 3 or 4 students, giving each group a different boardgame containing one or two of the topics they have to review. After theyre done Ill change the boardgames until they have played with all of them (no more than 4 different boardgames, depending on the class level).

I also plan on preparing a PowerPoint with some sentences and ask the students to correct them (supporting their answers).

Does someone have any ideas on how to deal with so many grammar topics at the same time without boring the students till death? Any suggestion that prevents me from killing them with so much grammar will be deeply appreciated!

Thanks in advance.


19 Feb 2011      


Hi Zailda!

I m probably just telling you the obvious, but since you ask...

It helps to alternate between the inevitable grammar tasks and other types of activities, such as reading a text and speaking activities, which are related to the grammar you want to revise.

Try to find short texts that focus on one of the grammar points you must work on. Read them with the students, work on the vocabulary a little bit and point out the grammar in use.  Then move on to grammar practice.

Plan speaking activities (role-plays preferrably) that will involve using the said grammar. Try to find topics that are interesting and funny for your students. Depending on the number of students per class, you can ask them to prepare their dialogue and present them to the rest of the class.

I can t think of much else really but I don t think you should worry that much. I m sure you ll come up with plenty of ideas to keep them involved :) And no need to give them all the boards during one lesson! One or two at a time!


19 Feb 2011     


what about a little competition "who wants to be a millionaire?" divide the class in groups and put grammar questions ex: he ... speak French - a) can b) have to c) to d) are able to and then ask your pupils to find the answers together... give them some time to work on the questions according to the difficult... to motivate the pupils you could get them rewards...
Grammar is very difficult to tackle... and usually the pupils get quickly bored... In France grammar is no longer as important as it was before, and it s a shame because our pupils lack the basic rules of the English language...
take care!

19 Feb 2011     



19 Feb 2011     


There is a fantastic fun commercial board game called Mastertalker where students practise and develop English by answering questions related to speaking, reading, grammar and vocabulary.  If you have that game you could use the grammar cards as an integrated grammar activity.
You can buy it from here.
My students LOVE Mastertalker.

19 Feb 2011     

United States

At an English course, the teacher had downloaded a lot of commercials - many you can find at Youtube.
She asked us to find all the verbs in the short film commercials.
(a lot is going on in these 1-2 minute commercials)
and kids love working with visual media)
You can then ask the students to change the verbs into past, ing form etc.
You can also use these for prepositions, adjectives and adverbs.
There really is no limit!

good luck

19 Feb 2011     


Again, something that s rather obvious so you ve probably done it before. You could make up cards with a question on each practicing one of the grammar structures you have to cover. Put them all in a bag, or a top hat or something. Pass it round the class to one of your students favorite songs. Turn your back and press pause, the person who has the bag pulls out a card and asks the question. The only problem is that that way only one person is practicing the language each time. As I have small classes it works fine, but if you have large classes you could pre-make teams and then when the card is pulled either a) the person whose turn it is on each team race to answer or b) all the students have to write the answer in their notebooks and then award 1 point to each team for all the people in that team who get it correct (so if 11 people wrote the correct answer that team gets 11 points).
Many of my students love those kind of team races. If you want to do something that involves very little preparation, which as we all know is sometimes a must and always a blessing, you can divide into 2 teams and just write the question up on the board, or even just read it aloud if they don t need the visual support. It works quite well to have the students line up at the sides of the classroom and once they ve answered correctly they can go back to their seat. The team who manages to get everyone back sat down first could get a bonus 20 points and so on, or you could not score up to then and just have the team that gets all its members sat down first being the winners.
Another one my students is like if you need to practice translation to check they understand the meaning of what they are saying is what I call the Back to the Board Game. The first player from each team brings a chair and sits with their back to board. You write a sentence in English on the board and say go. Their teammates can translate the sentence into their native language and give other hints, but they can not say any of the words that are in the answer in English. But if their teammate at the front forgets a word they can say "Sounds like..." and "The first letter is an R ... and so on. The first player with their back to the baord to say the sentence correctly gets a point for their teams.
For the basic tenses I like to use pictionary or a gesture game, again can work well in teams. Choose the tense for the day first. Two first players come to the board, show them a sentence card or whisper it in their ear, they either draw a picture on the board or mime the sentence depending on which game you are playing, and their teammates try to guess.
For more advanced grammar I like Katerina s idea of using role plays, or the idea of creating a situation and brainstorming on the baord how to solve itgetting your ideas from your students. i.e. write "Imagine you found 100 dollars on the pavement, what would you do with it?" in the center of the board. Elicit ideas from your students and write all around and then vote on the best idea, the worst idea, the most immoral and so on.
Although I can t give a specific recommendation I ve seen some good jeopardy powerpoints for practicing mixed grammar points here and I think something like that would be fun and educational, too.
Hope some of this at least helps and enjoy your weekend.
Edit: just remembered another one. You can draw a noughts and crosses grid on the board and write some kind of grammar problem in each square. i.e. an answer for which they have to find the question and so on. One team is noughts, and the other crosses. The first team chooses a square and trys to answer the problem. If they can do it they can put their mark (O or X) there. The first team to get 3 in a row is the champion team. Ive never tried it but I think this would work with a kind of bingo too, if you wanted a bigger grid, as traditional noughts and crosses only  gives you 9 problems. You could give a bingo grid with the questions on to the teams, or put one up on an OHP or something, and the first team to complete a line would win.
Edit 2: Another good one for mixed grammar points is grammar auction of sentences where students have to decide if they are correct or not and bid on them accordingly. Mar wrote a good explanation of it the other day in response to someone, but I cant find the link, sorry.

19 Feb 2011     


Hi zailda !
I remember one nice activity for elementary.  It s used with modal "can". Prepare a table like this one:

can play the piano


can count from one to ten in Spanish


can  name 10 capitals in Brazil


can dance samba


can ride a horse


can name 5 states in Brazil


can make a website...



Stds have to move around the class and ask one another questions: Can you...? Then they write the name of the person who said yes. The winner is the one to complete first.
I hope this can help you!
See ya!

19 Feb 2011     


As you told them to read the grammar points, you could divide them in small groups (if there are many students) or you can do it individually. Each student has to "play teacher" and prepare a nice worksheet or an activity about one grammar point. You should correct them and the next class, students swap their worksheets and have to do the exercise made by an other "teacher". I did this once and ( with adults and teens) and they liked it very much. Of course, this works better with advanced students.

19 Feb 2011     

class centre

Hi there! I have read all the posts on the topic/ I admire what I ve read. And I only would like to add that the approach I use is quite simple. I emphasize  the grammar points only after the age of 12-13.To understand grammar a st needs the front parts of his her  brain to be formed and ready to percieve the abstract notions. All the previous time I just use the grammar points without explaining them in a "grammar" way. My little ones know how to translate "go" and " went".  Only later they will learn that these are forms of the same irregular verb etc etc etc...After they have been using the grammar points in their practical English, they will grasp the explanation of grammar just in no time. Very easily and naturally I would rather say. Sometimes I  myself am empressed how smoothly it goes.
Good luck! 

19 Feb 2011     

Russian Federation

Hello dear Zailda,

I thinks it s hard to find a person as creative as you are... but may be you like these games too.

I ask parents to make cubes/blocks like these ones http://www.razumniki.ru/kubiki_zaiceva_english.html , but I simplify them a great deal for children. 1 with pronouns, 2 with auxiliaries, 3 with articles and so on. Any grammar structures I need. Besides I ask parent to make small cards from pictionaries (with vocabulary). Thus I can make any sentence I like and children realize how grammar structures work. Children can change a positive sentence into negative or interrogative, change pronouns some and any, etc. And they like it because it s obvious and easy. After pupils understand the structure, you can add a competition with some awards.

Another game they like is this one:

now      usually      yesterday

10            10              10

20             20             20

30             30             30

Children choose a category and the points they want to get. The less the number, the easier the sentence to translate. If they translate it correctly, you add these points, otherwise they get -10,20 etc. Divide children into two or three teams and let them discuss their translation for 10-30 seconds if they need, of course. 

I hope it helps.

19 Feb 2011     

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