“Brain-Friendly Grammar” From Teacher In Development Blog

Aaron at Teacher In Development presented some cool ideas for teaching grammar following a TEFL Logue post about onestopenglish.com’s “Is It Possible To Teach Grammar?”

I generally agreed with Jim Scrivener’s view that explicitly teaching grammar, even in a way that is considered “good” among communicative teachers, has much less practical benefit that we usually think. Students successfully get through a lesson and ten minutes later make a mistake with the very same point – and this is more about the nature of grammar or learning than the talent of teachers. However, it struck me that even though this may be true…students may not put up with NOT being taught grammar: they want it. Aaron came up with some suggestions which, I think, provide a good middle ground. Students get the grammar instruction they want but in an format which is both engaging and beneficial.

I especially liked the four tips he mentioned:

  • Try using “unexpected” images that illustrate the grammar point in question (Aaron points readers to flickr storm for this)
  • Use humor and fun – pictures can help with this!
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle grammar – return to it to make sure it “sets”
  • Keep in mind that effectiveness is not connected to how fast you cover the content, but rather, how deeply.

Aaron also presented a chart graphically illustrating the idea that when materials are “brain friendly” and include visuals, rather than just dry text, students’ interest is greater. Most of us readily acknowledge that raising students interest is a good thing for learning – but Aaron also cites an article referring to research which confirms that people can only process so much material at once. Too much text is not only boring but may go unprocessed.

Oh no, what does this mean for the TEFL Logue?! More pictures on the way..!

All kidding aside (well, I do need more pictures), thanks to Teacher In Development for these tips.