Many of my students say, "I need more grammar. I want to concentrate on grammar."
In truth, I find that in almost every case, their grammar is adequate. Many have studied English in their home countries where
the subject is taught as if it were a science, with a strong emphasis on grammar rules, and most of the examinations being
grammar based. I do cover grammar, but I do not emphasize it. I explain to them that in speaking, one cannot remember and
apply grammar rules fast enough for them to be useful, and that there are so many exceptions to the rules that their usefulness
while speaking is very limited, anyway. I emphasize that familiarity with speech patterns through repetition allows them to
recognize when it "sounds right."
Now that I've got that off my chest, I'll admit that
I do teach some grammar. The text we use is Understanding and Using English Grammar, 3rd edition by Betty Schrampfer
Azar (ISBN 0-13-958661-X). I have a set of these books that we can use in class, but I can't let the students take them home,
and many of my students can't afford to buy one, so I use a lot of handouts, some of which I have created and some of which
I have found in various places.
As a grammar reference, I recommend the Capital Community College Foundation website. The discussions
are clear, and the site is not difficult to navigate.
Click here to go to the Capital Community College Foundation website
I also find the Purdue University writing lab website useful.
Click here to go to Purdue University writing lab
Whenever possible, I try to use small groups to reinforce grammar topics through repetition. For instance,
I will divide the class into groups of three and provide each group with a list of questions. One student will ask the
question, the second will answer affirmatively, and the third will answer negatively. The list then passes to the
next student, and the process goes round robin. I circulate among the groups. If all three students in a group
can't agree on the correct response, they call on me to explain. Be creative. Try to find ways to set things in
motion and let the students take over.
Tom Lehrer had a song that went:
Let no one else's work evade your eyes.
do you think the Good Lord made your eyes?
So, plagarize, plagarize, plagarize!"
The links below will take you
to many of the handouts I use in my teaching of grammar topics. I have written most of these. Unfortunately, I can't
share many of the ones I have obtained from other sources because I have copied some of them in their entirety,
and their format is often incompatible with the web. The information is readily available from many sources, but you
might need to modifiy the explanations to fit your students' needs. You are welcome to download, reprint, modify, puncture,
spindle, or mutilate these files. If you improve them, please share your changes with me.