"I am a new teacher, and I need advice on how to teach Grade 1 grammar in a fun way like other teachers".
Let’s clarify one big important point.
No ESL teacher should aim to teach like other teachers. Each teacher is an individual and should let his/her personality shine through as he/she guides students towards better fluency and improved English-speaking skills. Each teacher should allow his/her ESL lessons to be driven by his/her unique teaching style. That said, you can still learn how to make grammar lessons more fun and less of a snooze fest, just like other teachers have learned to do. And here’s how:
Try These Ways to Make Your Grammar Lessons More FUN
Skip the Jargon
I did not learn English as a second language. I went to an American school and learned English just like every other kid in the US. What’s the difference? My classmates and I (and every other kid in America) had to learn the difference between essential and non-essential clauses, definite and indefinite articles, direct and indirect objects, etc... No. Learning English was not fun. But we did not expect it to be. It was our responsibility and a part of going to school.
But the experience is completely different for ESL students. They need to learn English-speaking skills and language that will help them communicate in English. They still learn when to use the definite or the indefinite article, but it’s not necessary to hit them over the head with terms that simply are not useful for them. This is why instead of saying, “Class, today we’re going to learn the Simple Past” I say, “Today we’re going to learn how to talk about things that happened in the past.” Can you tell the difference? The second is more goal-oriented and certainly sounds more fun. Remember, technical terms can be intimidating!
Turn That Frown Upside Down!
Every single one of us has a grammar point we hate to teach. Quite frankly, I don’t enjoy teaching Reported/Indirect Speech. But the worst you can do is let your class see how much you dislike the topic, or worse yet, complain and say something like, “Ugh! Today we’re practicing Reported Speech. Somebody please spare me the agony and shoot me now.”
So, give them your best smile and teach the dreaded topic, and make it fun for you, too. Because if you’re happy teaching it and having fun with it, your class will, too.
Use Their Interests
So, how do you have fun with a topic? You can turn it into a game. Give it a twist. Use their interests. Let’s take the teaching Reported Speech example. One of the reasons this topic might be boring is because you have to go through a variety of tenses and the whole he said/she said thing is very repetitive. Try this for a fun twist. Tell the class to imagine they have to report celebrity gossip (keep it clean and not malicious). Have a set of celebrity photos on hand and fire off a series of questions.
T: Who is getting married next year?
S: Taylor Swift said she was getting married.
T: Who has just finished shooting a new film?
S: George Clooney said he had just finished shooting a film.
You can also have S1 ask a question, S2 answer it and S3 report.
S1: Jennifer Lawrence, when are you filming the next Hunger Games movie?
S2: We will start filming in July.
S3: Jennifer Lawrence said they would start filming in July.
Simply by taking them out of the mundane (what did your boss/mom say?) you’re adding an element of fun. Using your students’ interests is the sure-fire key to making grammar lessons more fun.
Find the Loopy Hole
Yes, you read that right. Not the “loophole”, as in a means to escape, but the “loopy” hole, a mad or silly angle you can find to whatever you are teaching that will help you escape the boredom of a regular grammar lesson. To take the fun factor up another notch, dress and act like a celebrity. Make special voices and imitate accents (I often fake a British accent in class)! Instead of using celebrities like the example above, use cartoon characters: Imagine the Road Runner can speak. What did he say to the Coyote? Some of you may not feel comfortable “acting” but there has to be something loopy you can introduce. (I remember one colleague of mine who used an old round lamp as a “crystal ball” to practice future tenses!)
Above all, I recommend letting your personality shine through.
Do you have fun imitating accents? Use those! Are you a big science fiction geek? Have a couple of Star Wars characters act out a role play. As long as you keep your lesson goal in mind, for example, “learn to make requests”, does it really matter if it’s Luke Skywalker who’s making them?
If you have any other ideas for making grammar lessons more fun, share them in the comments below!
* This question was sent in from a real ESL teacher, just like you! Have a question of your own? Feel free to share it in the comments below. Or tweet your question to @busyteacher_org with the hashtag #ESLTeachersAsk. Your question might get picked and featured in an article!