Category Archives: Categories

• Myth #2 about Teaching ESL Grammar: Teaching Grammar Doesn’t Improve Students’ Writing.

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I’ve always been perplexed by this claim by some teachers: Teaching grammar doesn’t improve students’ writing.  A problem with it is that it doesn’t define what is meant by “teaching grammar” nor what is meant by “improve students’ writing.”  It seems to imply that they have looked at every conceivable way that grammar could be taught and worked with, and they found that none were effective.

When I questioned their basis for this belief, I was often directed to some studies in the 1970s and 80s. Typically, these studies started with students writing a paper. Then for a period of time, they worked on diagramming sentences, doing sentence-combination exercises, identifying parts of speech and completing some grammar worksheets. After this, they wrote another paper, and surprise, surprise, the writing in their essays hadn’t improved. From this, they concluded: teaching grammar doesn’t improve students’ writing.

On top of that, one researcher claimed that his students’ writing got worse, and somehow, he even knew that it was because the students had become obsessed “with avoiding error at all costs, to the point where fluency, content, and reasoning lost their importance.” *

Some teachers have pointed to this “research” as support for their justification to not work with grammar in their writing courses. Their philosophy tends to be: students improve their writing by writing.

How Working with Grammar Can Improve Students Writing

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• DON’T Teach This as an ESL Speaking Skill

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(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students and a link to a video.) *

In the video, I explain how ESL teachers can best help their students deal with reduced forms of speech. Some examples of reduced forms are
• whaddya (what are you)
• gonna (going to)
• din (didn’t)
• isn (isn’t)
•  cha > / t / + you) > I want you to start now.

It’s vital that we help students UNDERSTAND what OTHER PEOPLE are saying when they use these, but it’s COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE to tell students to use these when they speak.

The link to the video and two handout-activities

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• Writing Your Own ESL Exercises: Two Basic Recommendations

Blog cover Write Own

When I first started to write my own exercises, I learned two simple but important steps the hard way. In this short, 5-minute video, I describe what happened when I did NOT include the two steps in a couple of exercise and how I was able to improve them.

Here is the link to the video:

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Publisher: Pro Lingua Associates is now Pro Lingua Learning

I’ve recently received emails from readers who have been unable to follow links to Pro Lingua Associates (PLA) about textbooks in in some of my posts and downloadable exercises. As of October 1st, PLA has a new owner and website:  Pro Lingua Learning. The transition is expected to be completed soon.