Reflections on Grammar and Grammaring in Classrooms

Reflections on Grammar and Grammaring

-Dr Ghazala Siddiqi

Lecturer/ Teacher Trainer

There are multiple ways of looking at things. If we want to look at the same place and see different things, we need to look at that from different perspectives. That’s how we look at the landscape of language teaching and learning. With its myriad elements, grammar, vocabulary, idioms, and phrases- language teaching is dynamic. It is continuously evolving and is full of humor too!  Seeing grammar as a set of rules can be quite intimidating. It is inherent in the language. Can you think of language without grammar? 

Let me share an example: I  came across the title of a book that had a syntactic ambiguity—a fallacy arising from an erroneous grammatical construction. This was there on the back cover of the book by Lynn Truss:

A Panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it and fires two shots in the air, and gets up to leave. “Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the Panda makes it towards the exit. “Why did you do that?” he asks. The Panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder. “I am Panda.” He says at the door. “Look it up!”
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and sure enough, he finds an explanation– Panda: large black and white, bear-like mammal, native to China, eats shoots and leaves.

And that is exactly why perspectives matter. Grammar adds dimensions. It defines dimensions by adding accuracy, relatability, context, and meaning to language.

How can we teach Grammar in a way that our students find exciting and are motivated to learn?

We must look into the weave of language through the fabric of grammar and vocabulary, its correct usage, and context.

Is Grammar really a monster that students and teachers visualize it as, making its presence a sinister one in the classroom? Or is it the nut and bolt of language learning? How do Language teachers define their response to this aspect of language learning, that is Grammar? Do they look at it as a terrain that is to be traversed on a parallel tangent with other terrains like vocabulary, basic skills of communication, and different genres and forms? What are some of the commonly used approaches to grammar teaching? According to Grammaring, grammar has features of duality to English majors, that is, it should be taken both as knowledge and as ability. When viewed as knowledge, the focus is on the acquisition and research of rules for sentence formation. When viewed as an ability, the focus is on how grammar is used as a resource in the creation of spoken and written texts. So it’s a continuously evolving pattern of language acquisition where grammar is alive and fluid, flexible and evolving.

Let me share this little narrative with you

In a town named Linguapur, there’s a Grammar House in which lives a man by the name of Mr. Noun. He works at a hotel. He has a wife by the name of Mrs. Verb. Together they lead a happy life with their children. They have a son named Pronoun who is always there to help his father in times of his absence. Sometimes he helps other members too if he is in a generous mood by being there for them when they go out somewhere. They have two daughters by the names of Adjective and Adverb. These two are very different temperamentally. While Adjective generally praises other members when she is in a happy mood, Adverb is closer to her mom and keeps adding more quality and character to her way of doing things. For instance, if her mom writes something Adverb ensures that she does so neatly! Or, if she cooks a meal for the family, Adverb ensures that she does so cheerfully. The family has two domestic helpers. One of the two is Conjunction, who makes sure that everyone and everything in the household is well connected and the other is Preposition. Preposition’s job is to make sure that everything and everyone in the house has a well-defined position- like the TV remote must always be there ON the shelf and that the cat gets its food IN the small plate kept ABOVE the window! Let me also add that they have a nosey neighbor who keeps barging in at odd hours to express his excitement at anything and everything. Can you guess the neighbor’s name?  

Teaching Grammar through narratives, and Interactive tasks helps contextualize the content effectively, productively, and in a manner that is engaging. There are myriad strategies for using a communicative approach to teach Grammar.

Grammar does make a difference- have a look at these punctuation statements!

Let’s eat Grandma / Let’s eat, Grandma

Twenty- five dollar bills / twenty five-dollar bills

I am sorry I trust you./ I am sorry; I trust you.

I find inspiration in cooking my family and my dog. /I find inspiration in cooking, my family, and my dog.

In the classroom, activities guided by the communicative approach produce meaningful and real communication at all levels. As a result, there may be more emphasis on skills than systems, and lessons are more learner-centered.

The role of teachers is significant in creating a conducive ambiance in the classroom for teaching grammar.  Teachers are not merely teachers, they are psychologists, counselors, friends, and facilitators of learning. To be able to deliver instructions effectively teachers can make use of the six principles of TESOL.

Follow the six principles of TESOL-

1. Know your learners.

2. Create conditions for language learning.

3. Design high-quality language lessons.

4. Adapt lesson delivery as needed.

5. Monitor and assess student language development.

6. Engage and collaborate within a community of practice.

Teachers must think of appropriate context, situational aspects, and memorable ways of teaching grammarThey must engage students in activities that show how the grammar form is used in everyday conversation. Language and grammar dynamism work hand in hand as a dynamic process.

In the words of Confucius-

Tell me, I forget

Show me, I remember

Involve me, I understand

Encouraging Educator

Written by Ghaz@

I have done my Ph. D in Education and have contributed to Materials Development, content writing, and reviewing at various organizations like NCERT, Cambridge University Press and Jamia Millia Islamia University. I am currently teaching English at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.  I have worked as an ELT expert in the Access Micro Scholarship Teaching Program (American Centre). I also work as a Trainer and Program Coordinator for International Projects by World Learning, USA. I am passionate about reading and writing. Besides getting my poetry book published by Writers Workshop, I have also authored course books for Cambridge University Press.


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