English Grammar Problems

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English Grammar Problems

In this article I firstly discuss how native English people have extremely poor knowledge of English grammar. I then give teachers some general advice when teaching grammar topics. Finally, I post a link to a page where you can find lots of common language and grammar problems.

Have you ever asked an English person to explain why they say one thing and not another? For example, 'why do you say "written on the label" rather than "written in the label"? If you ask an English person questions about the language, most probably they will not be able to give you an answer. Obviously, the main exception is if they are an English teacher! Shockingly though, English people know very little about the English language.

Getting into TEFL teaching can seem daunting to many native English teachers. The main obstacle and concern for new native teachers is undoubtedly learning and having to teach the grammar. Being a native TEFL teacher myself, I know from my own experience and through speaking to nearly every English person I come across that their knowledge of English grammar is extremely limited, or in most cases, non-existent.

Grammar in other countries

Unlike in England, schools in other countries often place a strong emphasis on teaching the grammar of their own language. They also emphasise the importance of learning the grammar of other languages too. Most of my students who have some prior knowledge or basic level of English have been brought up in schools in their home countries where grammar is a fundamental aspect of language learning. However, many of these students, particularly if they feel that they have not had a great education or have a pessimistic view of their English skills, are often not overly interested in learning grammar. They prefer to study other aspects of the language. While I think that learning grammar is key to learning a new language, I do not think that this need be a serious worry for new native tefl teachers.

Advice For Teachers

I realised once I started teaching that it is very easy to get overly involved in understanding and teaching the grammar. I now think that certain aspects of grammar need to be learned piece by piece, rather than all at once. This progression of understanding will happen naturally. The more you teach the same material, the better you get at teaching and helping students understand it.

 Depending on your first teaching job and how many hours you are teaching per week, it is quite easy to prepare for your lessons ahead of time. Again, I would recommend keeping it simple at first, try not to over complicate or overthink things. A couple of books that I have found to be really useful in alleviating my grammar concerns are: Practical English in Usage’ by M. Swan, and ‘Grammar for English Teachers’ by M. Parrott.

I like to keep my lessons flexible and I ask my students for a lot of input, which grammar areas they find difficult etc. This may seem daunting to teachers at first, but I think it is good to challenge yourself. You should remember that it is sometimes not a good idea to start a new grammar topic when you are studying another. This can just confuse students. So if a student asks you to look at something you can always say that you will cover it in the next lesson. This is sometimes more useful for a student anyway because you can create a proper lesson with good examples etc. Sometimes when you try to answer questions of the top off your head you can end up confusing students.

Concluding statements

If English teaching is your main profession then you will end up spending at least some time learning and teaching grammar whether you like it or not. This is part and parcel of the job. It is highly unlikely that you will come into the profession with a wealth of understanding of the English language. As I said earlier, you will inevitably learn a lot on the job.

If you are an English teacher or student, the articles I post on this page tackle difficult grammar and English language problems. I hope you find the articles here useful!!

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