Teaching grammar remotely

Hello colleagues, In my Zoom English class with advanced English learners, I am endeavoring to stick with the way I approach grammar instruction in a face-to-face class. I determine the grammar focus based on an analysis of the text we are using in class --whether that's a written document or a video transcript. If the text features past tense, then we focus on that. If it features participle adjectives, we focus on that, etc. The goal is for students to study the grammar point in the context of meaningful texts.

I begin by teaching the grammar point explicitly. I present the basics around the "Form (How is it formed? Accuracy), Meaning  (What does it mean? Meaningfulness) and Use (When/Why is it used? Appropriateness)" as recommended in The Grammar Book by Marianne Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman (1999). 

I sometimes draw from a site that we learned about form our students years ago, Learn American English Online, which features 100s of videos of Teacher Paul clearly explaining grammar points. I also draw from the free downloadable grammar exercises at the useful site All Things Grammar.  In my Zoom class, we sometimes watch one of Teacher Paul's videos together. After that, learners work tn pairs or small groups in the breakout rooms to complete a grammar exercise. (Tip: In my Zoom class I keep the grammar exercise short!) When we come back together, the students share their answers, and we check for accuracy.

Once the students have a good understanding of the grammar, I challenge them to locate examples of the grammar point in the text we've been reading or the video transcript we've been working with. Each student is assigned a section of the text to search for the grammar point, and they then report their findings to the rest of the class, and we discuss how the grammar does its work to convey meaning.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this approach to teaching grammar contextually. If you'd like to visit my Zoom class to see how this works, you would be more than welcome. Just email me at susanfinn_miller@iu13.org, and we can make arrangements for you to visit.

Please let us know how you have been teaching grammar in your remote classroom.

Take care, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP


Thanks, Susan, for two more valuable websites that I reviewed and bookmarked. The "Learn American English Online" and "All Things Grammar" sites provided me with a wealth of support for both my beginning and intermediate ESL adults. In addition, I also appreciate that you shared "Vocabulary Workouts" with me. Those worksheets have become a regular part of my online curriculum and my students enjoy them very much. They have improved tremendously with pronunciations, definitions, sentence writing and answering vocabulary-specific questions that prompt them to use their new "word of the day" appropriately. Again, thanks for sharing!