Some of us love grammar lessons, but others…
If you, or your learners, fall into the second category, one great way to make grammar meaningful, interesting and even edifying is to adapt stories to include a little grammar that you can then extract and analyse.
Stories provide for ‘Context, Analysis and Practice’ (C-A-P: something I’ll be talking about more at IATEFL Glasgow 2017, watch this space). Here’s how you can use them:
Context – Live listening
If you’re confident telling the story yourself, you can turn it into a listening activity even if you don’t have an audio player or speakers. Alternatively, you could get them to read it themselves, providing a few comprehension questions that help them to focus on the meaning of the story first.
Analysis – Noticing and understanding
It’s useful at this stage to give them a copy of the story, and get them to underline examples of key words, tenses or sentences that you want them to notice. Don’t forget to get them to think about who used the grammar, and what their reason was for using it, whether this is the writer or characters in the story, just like Danny Norrington-Davies recommends in his new book: From Rules to Reasons.
A particular advantage of using stories is that once you’ve done the analysis, you can use the same story for the practice. First, turn the story itself into a gap-fill that they have to complete without looking at the original story. This encourages them both to draw on their memory of the story and the context provided, but also to apply the logic of what they have understood about the grammar itself during the analysis.
Then, for freer speaking practice/production, they can either retell the story, or role-play it if it involves characters (which most do). Alternatively, for writing practice, you could get the learners to rewrite the story with an alternative ending!
Here’s an example from my website. It’s a story adapted from the Alchemist by Paolo Coelho that I love to use to teach first conditional. Try it out with your learners and let me know how it goes!
Do you have any other stories that you use to teach grammar?