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Deductive Analysis and use of grammars

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DEDUCTIVE ANALYSIS

Always check out any grammatical structure which you are unsure of and are expected to teach. Have your own 'bible' which you can rely on as a reference before a lesson. You will need your grammar throughout your TESOL career. In this unit you are expected to use your grammar, to familiarise yourself with the layout and become skilled at using it as a quick reference.

BUT WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVEN'T GOT MY GRAMMAR WITH ME?

If you do not know a particular grammatical structure well, but you wish to explain it to your students try using DEDUCTIVE ANALYSIS. This means working it out for yourself. Write yourself some examples. One example is very dangerous in English, there is a good chance it will be an idiom or an exception. Two examples have a better chance of illustrating an emerging pattern, but there is still a chance that one will be an exception. Three examples are much safer, hopefully two of the three will illustrate the structure and you should then be able to explain the structure successfully.

In theory it should never happen that you do not know a grammatical structure well enough to be able to explain it, exemplify it and name it. HOWEVER, early on in your TESOL career it may happen. It may also happen if you are given no warning nor preparation time before a lesson. This can happen if you are substituting for an absent colleague or on badly organised summer schools. Otherwise you should MAKE SURE you know what you are teaching by thoroughly preparing your lessons.

NB One hour of preparation is the minimum for a one-hour lesson, especially in your first year of teaching.

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Now check your work with the reference grammar you have bought. Correct your work and add in any other points that are in the grammar but that you did not think of.

TEACHING GRAMMAR POINTS AND GIVING EXAMPLES TO STUDENTS.

The days are gone when teachers used to stand at the front of the class and ‘tell’ the students about grammar. It helped them with what the grammar looked like but not with how to use it. These days we need to give the students clear examples in a context of how grammar works.

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Articles exercise

It is very difficult to practice articles in short out of context sentences, as the article we choose depends on the context. Look at the two options below.

Jackie ordered (the / an / a) printer from Ebay.

A: Any news on the printer?

B: Jackie ordered the printer from Ebay rather than the one from the local shop in the end.

A: How’s the business going?

B: Badly. Jackie ordered a printer from e bay and it broke on the first day.

Everyday I exercise with (the / an / a) Denise Austin video I got for my birthday.

The article chosen depends on how many videos there are and whether the video is shared knowledge or not!

Everyday I exercise with the Denise Austin video I got for my birthday.

Everyday I exercise with a Denise Austin video I got for my birthday.

We enjoy (the / an / a) lovely dinner with friends on Sunday evenings.

We enjoy the lovely dinner with friends on Sunday evenings, the trip to the pub afterwards and the fact that we can walk home.

We enjoy a lovely dinner with friends on Sunday evenings and I always provide the wine.

There is an added problem that this is a rather strange sentence. Keep things as natural as possible.

At the zoo, we saw the seal and an otter.

At the zoo, we saw a seal and the otter.

At the zoo, we saw the seal and the otter.

At the zoo, we saw a seal and an otter.

The article choices depend on which animals are known about before (the) and which were seen unexpectedly (a an).

Tense exercises.

There are similar problems with these sentences. They do not have enough context to show students which tense to use.

John _________________ (play) tennis every Sunday.

John is going to play/plays/is playing/played. There is no clue as to whether he has started playing yet, or finished it or is still playing at the moment.

I _____________________(live) in Egypt for 3 years

Lived (not anymore) /have lived (still there) am going to live (plan for later this year)

I _____________________(play) football next Sunday.

Am going to (plan) am playing (diary plan) will play (promise to yourself or someone else etc…)

I ______________________(have) coffee with my breakfast.

Have (everyday) had (have just finished) have had(so I don’t want another) ‘ll have (selection from menu)

So try to follow these rules when you are teaching grammar or tenses.

Give key words ‘usually’, ‘next week’, ‘both’ to help them choose, for example, the difference between singular and plural, or present and past tense.

Give contexts that they can understand and might want to use themselves.

Where were you last night? I only saw Peter at the party.

Is a more useful example than:

Where was the orange last night? I only saw an apple.

Sometimes give students a text and get them to pick out the tenses for themselves - this gives them a very clear idea of how words are used.

Put tenses into a paragraph rather than single sentences when you give examples. Then students can see clearly how they work.

Now consider the following extract:

The linguist Peter Grundy reports the following conversation between himself ('me' in the extract) and a student at the University of Durham where he worked some years ago:

ME: You're in a no-smoking zone.

FEMALE STUDENT: Am I?

ME: The whole building's a no-smoking zone.

FEMALE STUDENT: (extinguishing cigarette) Thanks very much.

(Grundy 1995: 96)

We know what the words mean, of course, but why exactly did Peter Grundy give the student the information about the no-smoking zone? He clearly wasn't just offering information or passing the time. On the contrary, his purpose was to stop the student smoking. And what are we to make of the student's second utterance? Is she really thanking her lecturer for giving her information that she didn't have before? Or does her Thanks very much really mean sorry? Perhaps its purpose is to indicate to her lecturer that yes, she knows she was smoking in a no-¬smoking zone and since she's been 'caught', she has no option but to put out her cigarette?

Peter Grundy might have chosen different words for the purpose, especially if, instead of a student, he had found the Dean, his boss, smoking in the corridor. Instead of stating, baldly, You’re in a no-smoking zone, he might have said something like, Umm, not sure if I should point this out or not, but this building is a no-smoking area or maybe he would have employed a different formula of words altogether to get his point across.

The issue that faces us here is that the words we use and what they actually mean in the context we use them, are not the same thing at all. There is no one-to-one correspondence, in other words, between form and meaning.

Form and meaning

Peter Grundy could have chosen a wide range of language forms to ask the student to stop smoking, e.g. Could you put that cigarette out, please?, Stop smoking, Please extinguish your cigarette or If you want to smoke, you'd better go outside. There are many different ways of saying the same thing.

This point is well exemplified by the different ways we have of expressing the future in English. Among the many alternatives on offer, we might say I will arrive at eight o'clock (a simple statement of fact), I'm arriving at eight o'clock (= that's the arrangement I have made), I'm going to arrive at eight o'clock (= that's my plan) or I arrive at eight o'clock (= that's the itinerary). Each of these constructions indicates futurity, but each means something slightly different, as we have shown.

If we take one of the grammatical constructions used to construct a future sentence, the present continuous (I'm arriving at eight o'clock), another startling phenomenon becomes apparent. In our example, the statement refers to the future, but if we say Look at John! He's laughing his head off at something, the present continuous (sometimes called progressive) is referring not to the future, but to a temporary transient present reality. A third possible meaning of the present continuous is exemplified by a sentence such as The problem with John is that he's always laughing when he should be serious, which describes a habitual, not a temporary action. And we can even use the present continuous to make a story about the past more dramatic, e.g. So I'm sitting there minding my own business when suddenly this guy comes up to me ....

This same-form-different-meanings situation is surprisingly unproblematic for language users since the context (situation) and co-text (lexis and grammar which surround the form, such as eight o'clock, Look at John, etc.) usually resolve any ambiguity. Nevertheless, it makes decisions about what forms to teach, and what meanings to teach them with, a major factor in syllabus planning.

The choice of which future form to use from the examples above will depend not only on meaning, but what purpose we wish to achieve.

Purpose

Many years ago, the philosopher J.L Austin identified a series of verbs which he called 'performatives', that is verbs which do what those same words mean. Thus, if a speaker says I promise, the word promise itself performs the function of promising. If a celebrity says I name this ship 'Ocean 3', the use of the verb name performs the function of naming.

The idea that language performs certain functions is not restricted to the kind of verbs Austin mentioned, however. We saw above how This is a no-smoking zone had the purpose of having the student put out her cigarette, just as a sentence like It's cold in here might, in certain circumstances, perform the function of a request to the other person in the room to close the window.

One major result of this interest in purpose was to lead linguists to propose a category of language functions such as inviting, apologising, offering and suggesting. Thus Would you like to come for a coffee? performs the function of inviting, whereas I just can't accept that performs the function of disagreeing, with the purpose of making your own opinion quite clear. Why don't you try yoga? performs the function of strongly suggesting, where the purpose is to provoke action, and I'll do it if you want, is clearly offering help, with the purpose of being helpful.

The study of functions and how they are realised in language, has had a profound effect upon the design of language teaching materials, making language purpose a major factor in the choice of syllabus items and teaching techniques.

Appropriacy and register

A feature of language functions is that they do not just have one linguistic realisation; the following phrases, for example, show only some of the possible ways of inviting someone to the cinema:

Would you like to come to the cinema?

How about coming to the cinema?

I was wondering if you might like to come to the cinema tonight?

Cinema?

There's a good film at the cinema.

Thus, when we attempt to achieve a communicative purpose (such as getting someone to agree to an invitation), we have to choose which of these language forms to use. Which form, given our situation, is the most appropriate. The same is true, of course, in our choice of language in letters, emails and text messages.

Six of the variables which govern our choice are listed below:

Setting: we speak differently in libraries from the way we do in night clubs. We often use informal and spontaneous language at home, whereas we may use more formal pre-planned speech in an office or work environment.

Participants: the people involved in an exchange - whether in speech or writing - clearly affect the language being chosen. However egalitarian we may want to be, we often choose words and phrases in communication with superiors which are different from the words and phrases we use when talking to, writing to or texting our friends, members of our families or colleagues of equal status to us.

Gender: research clearly shows that men and women typically use language differently when addressing either members of the same or the opposite sex. This is especially true of conversation. Women frequently use more concessive language than men, for example, and crucially, often talk less than men in mixed-sex conversations.

Channel: there are marked differences between spoken and written language. But spoken language is not all the same: it is affected by the situation we are in. Are we speaking face to face or on the telephone? Are we speaking through a microphone to an unseen audience or standing up in a lecture hall in front of a crowd?

Topic: the topic we are addressing affects our lexical and grammatical choices. The words and phrases that we use when talking or writing about a wedding will be different from those we employ when the conversation turns to particle physics. The vocabulary of childbirth is different from the lexical phrases associated with football. The topic-based vocabulary we use is one of the features of register - the choices we make about what language to employ.

Tone: another feature of the register in which something is said or written is its tone. This includes variables such as formality and informality, politeness and impoliteness. For example, sophisticated women's magazines may talk of make-up, but teenage magazines sometimes call it slap. Using high pitch and exaggerated pitch movement is often more polite than a flat monotone when saying things such as Can you repeat that?

These, then, are some of the factors that influence our choice of language. When we have our students study the way language is used in speaking or writing, we will want to draw their attention to such issues. We may ask why a speaker uses particular words or expressions in a specific situation. We may have our students prepare for a speaking activity by assembling the necessary topic words and phrases. We may discuss what sort of language is appropriate in an office situation when talking to a superior - and whether the sex of the superior makes any difference.

Language is a social construct as much as it is a mental ability. It is important for students to be just as aware of this in a foreign or second language as they are in their own.

Language as text and discourse

Although, as we shall see, grammar and vocabulary are vital components of language (as are the sounds of English in spoken discourse), we also need to look at language at the level of text or discourse (that is, texts which are longer than phrases or sentences).

Discourse organisation

In order for collections of sentences or utterances to succeed effectively, the discourse needs to be organised or conducted in such a way that it will be successful. In written English this calls for both coherence and cohesion.

For a text to be coherent, it needs to be in the right order - or at least make sense.

However coherent a text is, however, it will not work unless it has internal cohesion. The elements in that text must cohere or stick to each other successfully to help us navigate our way around the stretch of discourse. One way of achieving this is through lexical cohesion, and a way of ensuring lexical cohesion is through the repetition of words and phrases. We can also use interrelated words and meanings (or lexical set chains) to bind a text together.

Grammatical cohesion is achieved in a number of ways. One of the most common is the concept of anaphoric reference, where we use pronouns, for example, to refer back to things that have already been mentioned, as in the following example:

Frank McCourt first emerged on the literary scene with his book Angela's Ashes, a memoir of a childhood lived in poverty. It became an instant classic.

Another similar cohesive technique is that of substitution, using a phrase to refer to something we have already written. For example:

There was nothing remarkable about my thirty years in the high school classrooms of New York City. I often doubted if I should be there at all. At the end I wondered how I lasted that long.

Where ‘there’ refers back (and substitutes for) the classrooms of New York City, and ‘that long’ makes reference and substitutes for thirty years.

These features are also present in spoken language, which also shows many examples of ellipsis (where words from a written-grammar version of an utterance are missed out without compromising the meaning of what is being said). The following two lines, for example, were spoken in a British pub:

A: Another round?

B: Might as well.

Another round? is probably an elliptical version of the question Shall we have another round? (a round is an order of drinks for everyone in the group), and Might as well is an elliptical version of the sentence We might as well have another round.

For conversational discourse to be successful, participants have to know how to organise the events in it. They need to know, for example, how and when to take turns - that is when to interrupt, when to show they want to continue speaking, or when they are happy to 'give the floor' to someone else. In order to do this successfully, they need to be able to use discourse markers effectively. Thus, phrases such as anyway, moving on and right are ways of beginning a new thread of the discussion (or sometimes of closing one down); d'you know what I mean? OK? and Right? are ways of encouraging a listener's agreement and yeah, but and OK (said with doubtful intonation) are ways of indicating doubt or disagreement.

Genre

One of the reasons we can communicate successfully, especially in writing, is because we have some understanding of genre. One way of describing this - and one much favoured by people who teach ESP (English for Specific Purposes) - is to say that a genre is a type of written organisation and layout (such as an advertisement, a letter, a poem, a magazine article, etc.) which will be instantly recognised for what it is by members of a discourse community - that is any group of people who share the same language customs and norms.

Genres give way to sub-genres. Within the genre of advertising, for example, there are many variations.

Textual success often depends on the familiarity of text forms for writers and readers of the discourse community, however small or large that community might be. And so, when we teach students how to write letters, send emails or make oral presentations, for example, we will want them to be aware of the genre norms and constraints which are involved in these events. However, we need to make sure that we are not promoting straightforward imitation, but rather making students aware of possibilities and opportunities. One way of doing this is to show them a variety of texts within a genre rather than asking for slavish imitation of just one type.

Whatever text we are constructing or co-constructing (as in a conversation, for example, where speakers together make the conversation work), the sentences and utterances we use are a combination of grammar, morphology, lexis and, in the case of speaking, sounds. And it is the first of these elements of language that we are concerned with in this module.

Grammar

The sentence I will arrive at around eight o'clock depends for its success on the fact that the words are in the right order. We could not say, for example *I arrive will at eight o'clock around (* denotes an incorrect utterance) because auxiliary verbs (e.g. will) always come before main verbs (e.g. arrive) in affirmative sentences. Nor can the modifying adverb around come after the time adverbial since its correct position is before it. There is a system of rules, in other words, which says what can come before what and which order different elements can go in. We call this system syntax.

Grammar is not just concerned with syntax, however. The way words are formed - and can change their form in order to express different meanings - is also at the heart of grammatical knowledge. Thus, for example, we can modify the form arrive by adding -d to make arrived, so that the verb now refers to the past. If we replace e with -ing to make the form arriving, the verb now indicates continuity. We call the study of this kind of word formation morphology. Speakers of a language have a good knowledge of morphology, for if they did not, they would not be able to say I arrive, but then change this to he arrives. They would not be able to use the different forms of the verb take (take, took, taken) without such knowledge, or be able to manipulate a word such as happy (adjective) so that it becomes an adverb (happily), a noun (happiness), or has an opposite meaning (unhappy).

Grammar can thus be partly seen as a knowledge of what words can go where and what form these words should take. Studying grammar means knowing how different grammatical elements can be strung together to make chains of words.

Choosing words

When we construct sentences, we are constantly making choices about, for example, singular or plural, countable or uncountable, present or past, transitive or intransitive, and about exactly what words we want to use (e.g. like, enjoy, say or tell).

A similar situation occurs with verbs which are either transitive (they take an object), intransitive (they don't take an object) or both. The verb herd (e.g. to herd sheep) is a transitive verb. It always takes an object. The verb open, on the other hand, can be either transitive or intransitive. The dentist says Open your mouth (transitive), but we can also say The dentist's surgery opens at eight o' clock (intransitive).

Verbs are good examples, too, of the way in which words can trigger the grammatical behaviour of words around them. The verb like triggers the use of either the -ing form in verbs which follow it (I like listening to music) or the use of to + the infinitive (I like to listen to music), but in British English like cannot be followed by that + a sentence (we can't say *She likes that she sails). The verb tell triggers the use of a direct object and, if there is a following verb, the construction to + infinitive (She told me to arrive on time), whereas say triggers that + a clause construction (She said that I should arrive on time).

As far as possible, students need to understand at some level (consciously or unconsciously) what these implications are. They need to be aware of rules. The problems arise, however, when rules are complex and difficult to perceive. The fact that third person singular verbs in the present simple take an s in most varieties (e.g. he plays the guitar; she sails ocean-going yachts) is a straightforward concept which is easy to explain and easy to understand, but other rules are far less clear. Perhaps our greatest responsibility, therefore, is to help students develop their language awareness. That is, their ability to spot grammatical patterns and behaviour for themselves.

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Вадим Бондарь
Вадим Бондарь
Как найти и выбрать тьютора?
Ирина Суханова
Ирина Суханова
здравствуйте! я прохожу курс учитель англ. языка. я отправила тест №1, как долго его будут проверять.
Татьяна Сталидзан
Татьяна Сталидзан
Россия, Москва