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Re: Still teaching grammar?

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  • karenstanleyma
    ... Dave once again confuses the idea that (a) explaining what is going on in grammar is *helpful* for acquisition with (b) explaining what is going on in
    Message 1 of 30 , Jun 30, 2009
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      Dave wrote:
      > To illustrate the impossibility of acquiring grammar through a grammar lesson, we have to look no further than third person plurals (I go, you go, she goes) and also the pronouns of gender (Mary is a good cook. He cooks delicious meals.)
      >

      Dave once again confuses the idea that
      (a) explaining what is going on in grammar is *helpful* for acquisition with
      (b) explaining what is going on in grammar is *sufficient* for acquisition

      I can just as easily ask Dave why extended reading, which he supports as a very useful approach, doesn't produce learners who use these two forms correctly. After all, extended reading puts students in *constant* contact with both of them - surely hardly a paragraph goes by without both in them - often multiple instances.

      The fact is, language learning is MUCH more complex than the idea that any single method used by itself will be sufficient to result in producing native-like speakers.

      Karen Stanley
      http://karen.stanley.people.cpcc.edu
      Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
    • Russ Taylor
      Not only is Jim spot on with what he is saying about teaching grammar but also foreign teachers in China have to be aware that Chinese students are force fed
      Message 2 of 30 , Jun 30, 2009
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        Not only is Jim spot on with what he is saying about teaching grammar but also foreign teachers in China have to be aware that Chinese students are force fed English grammar ALL the time. They are not ignorant of it, which might not always be the case with the foreign teacher unfortunately. The point is that some students will ask basic grammar questions, sometimes to check the foreign teacher's own knowledge and sometimes because they genuinely are having trouble understanding something.

        I do not spend ages teaching grammar in the way the Chinese teachers do, but if there is a problem that keeps cropping up, like the 3rd person singular of the simple present tense in English verbs(which is what Dave meant when he was talking about 3rd person plurals), then explanations: drawing attention to it; getting the students to be able to accurately use what they in fact often do know I see as a basic prerequisite of me in my role as teacher in China.

        If TESOL or EFL/ESL teachers shouldn't teach grammar, why was I shown how to go about it on the training course I wonder? I do not see why teaching grammar is ONE arrow in the foreign teacher's quiver, to be used as and when and never for a whole lesson.


        Russ Taylor

        --- On Tue, 30/6/09, JimMahler@... <JimMahler@...> wrote:

        From: JimMahler@... <JimMahler@...>
        Subject: Re: (teach) Still teaching grammar?
        To: TEFLChina@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Tuesday, 30 June, 2009, 1:21 AM

















        Dave Kees suggests that grammar cannot be 'acquired' by explicit instruction, and that teachers should therefore not attempt to teach it. I have a question.



        The other day a student asked me to explain the difference between 'imagine' and 'imagination' . I told her that 'imagine' is a verb and 'imagination' is a noun. She nodded understanding and proceeded to produce an acceptable sentence. Dave, how would you have answered her question?



        Dave also asked: "If grammar is so teachable, why does it take students as long as a year or two to master these two points of grammar [third person plurals and gender-distinct pronouns], each of which can be 'taught' in about five minutes?"



        Many Chinese believe their language is a superior vehicle for expressing thoughts and ideas, and that foreign tongues pale in comparison. (I should note that many English speakers feel the same way about our language.) This attitude creates resistance, usually unconscious, to what the students see as the inanities of English grammar. For example, it seems foolish to them to have to learn several different words or expressions for what in fact is a single idea: 'go' is 'go', so forget about goes, went, will have gone, etc.



        I wish I had a magic wand to overcome this resistance, but I don't. Basically, I tell my students that they can say 'yesterday he go' if they want, but that foreigners will consider them stupid for doing so. (I am of course not that blunt about it.)



        We teachers have to remember that Chinese is a high context language. That is, Chinese speakers will expect the listener to understand certain facts without constant repetition. Thus, if the listener knows I am talking about something my mother did yesterday, it would waste my breath and insult the listener's intelligence to continually say 'she' and use a time indicator in every sentence. English, in contrast, is low context. We expect each sentence to be intelligible with as little reference to background information as possible. Enabling the students to understand the difference in the two languages does indeed take time, but it's not an excuse for avoiding the teaching of grammar.



        If it only takes five minutes each to teach the two concepts that Dave refers to, why not go ahead and to so? It might help some students.



        Jim Mahler































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      • Merton Bland
        Jim Mahler seems to belive that teaching a rule (memorizing it through mainly rote processing) will automatically allow the student to apply that rule.  Dave
        Message 3 of 30 , Jul 12, 2009
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          Jim Mahler seems to belive that teaching a rule (memorizing it through mainly rote processing) will automatically allow the student to apply that rule.  Dave Kees and others, myself included, believe that by focusing on what you might call habit formation enables the student to produce grammatically correct utterances without recourse to articulated rules. 
           
          This can also be stated as the battle between inductive and deductive acquisition, deductive meaning memorizing rules formulated by others (grammarians), and inductive meaning developing one's own patterns of grammar.
           
          Were we to accept Jim's approach, communication would be endangered as the student pauses to recall the rule and then must decide how to apply it:  uuh..............
           
          Mert
          Dr.M.L.Bland, Arlington, VA, USA





















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        • JimMahler@cox.net
          Merton Bland wrote: Jim Mahler seems to belive that teaching a rule (memorizing it through mainly rote processing).... I believe that teaching a rule
          Message 4 of 30 , Jul 12, 2009
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            Merton Bland wrote: "Jim Mahler seems to belive that teaching a rule (memorizing it through mainly rote processing)...."

            I believe that "teaching a rule" means telling the students explicitly what the rule is, then practicing it through conversation, listening, reading and writing. If I understand Dr. Bland's position correctly, he and I agree on the practicing part, and disagree only on the explicit telling part.

            Expecting students to figure out the rules on their own takes too much time in an EFL setting. Even in an ESL setting, where students are surrounded by English for many hours a day outside the classroom, explicit teaching saves valuable classroom time.

            Jim Mahler 
          • Merton Bland
            Jim Mahler still seems to believes in teaching rules (by which he means telling the students explicitly what the rule is, then practicing it through
            Message 5 of 30 , Jul 12, 2009
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              Jim Mahler still seems to believes in teaching rules (by which he means telling the students explicitly what the rule is, then practicing it through conversation, listening, reading and writing.).
               
              I wonder what rules he explicity tells them.  Add an S to form the plural of nouns like mouses, fishes, and the like?  Or  to always refuse to ever split an infinitive?  Or I before E in spelling words like recieve or decieve?  Which rules does he explicitly tell?
               
              Mert - Dr.M.L.Bland, Arlindgon, VA, USA
            • Margaret Orleans
              ... I don t know about Jim, but in my high school and college composition classes I let students tease out the rules for capitalization of words in titles or
              Message 6 of 30 , Jul 12, 2009
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                --- On Mon, 7/13/09, Merton Bland <mert_bland@...> wrote:


                > I wonder what rules he explicity tells them. 

                I don't know about Jim, but in my high school and college composition classes I let students tease out the rules for capitalization of words in titles or use of quotations marks versus italics from a set of carefully selected examples (from the students' own writing, if possible).

                But when it comes to the use of articles, I tell them explicit rules because even the most concise and best organized explanation I have found take up a two-page handout. I don't think students could efficiently make enough assumptions on their own, though they have been taught some parts of these rules time and again in the past. (One useful way to teach implicitly is to introduce the article with the noun in vocabulary lists.)

                Another rule that I teach explicitly is the one for choosing to write numbers as figures or words because it can be explained in one sentence without any technical terms.

                --Peg
              • Russ Taylor
                ...   I wonder what rules he explicity tells them.  like mouses, fishes, and the like?  Or I before E in spelling words like recieve or decieve?    Mert!
                Message 7 of 30 , Jul 12, 2009
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                  --- On Mon, 13/7/09, Merton Bland <mert_bland@...> wrote:




                   

                  I wonder what rules he explicity tells them.  like mouses, fishes, and the like?  Or I before E in spelling words like recieve or decieve?   

                  Mert! Perhaps if you had learnt the rule 'i before e except after c' then your spelling would be much better hehehe. And that's a spelling guideline anyway rather than a rule as there are exceptions which is why teachers in England are being instructed not to teach it anymore.I think the same goes for grammar 'rules'. There are so many exceptions to the rules that they are more like guidelines and not every 'rule' needs to be explicitly taught all of the time or tested for the ability to recite said rules as Mert seems to be implying. The basic rules do need to be explained and reenforced though in my opinion as I believe students need to be familiar enough with these 'rules' so that they can pass exams and understand what;s going on with the language that they should be using. While I appreciate what you and Dave Kees champion, I don't think it is much use in a Chinese Education system that actually does not require expert English 'knowledge' but merely
                  enough to pass the Chinese exams. If I were teaching businessmen for example and they were wanting more native like usage because of extensive contact with native speakers and did not need to pass any exams, then my approach would be more in line with the Extensive Reading i+1 way of doing things.
                  On this forum can we always make a point please of making sure that we state what approaches we are talking about for which students as different contexts require different kinds of lessons depending on who the students are and what do they need English for in the first place. Yes people can become proficient speakers of English without ever having had a grammar lesson, but this is not, in my own experience, a Chinese university student living in China and subject to the Chinese education system.

                  Russ Taylor




























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                • JimMahler@cox.net
                  Merton Bland wonders ...what rules he explicity tells [students].  Add an S to form the plural of nouns like mouses, fishes, and the like?  Or  to always
                  Message 8 of 30 , Jul 13, 2009
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                    Merton Bland wonders "...what rules he explicity tells [students].  Add an S to form the plural of nouns like mouses, fishes, and the like?  Or  to always refuse to ever split an infinitive?  Or I before E in spelling words like recieve or decieve?  Which rules does he explicitly tell?"

                    The fact that there are exceptions is not an adequate reason to avoid teaching grammar rules. (By "rules" I mean descriptive rules, not perscriptive.)

                    Jim Mahler
                  • Merton Bland
                    But Jim Mahler does not give any examples either when he talks about descriptive rules and perscriptive rules.  If you grammarians would just give us
                    Message 9 of 30 , Jul 14, 2009
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                      But Jim Mahler does not give any examples either when he talks about descriptive rules and perscriptive rules.  If you grammarians would just give us others one example of an important grammar rule, then we might discuss how best to help the student internalize the concept.
                       
                      Mert - Dr.M.L.Bland, Arlington, VA, USA






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                    • JimMahler@cox.net
                      Merton Bland wrote: If you grammarians would just give us others one example of an important grammar rule, then we might discuss how best to help the student
                      Message 10 of 30 , Jul 14, 2009
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                        Merton Bland wrote: "If you grammarians would just give us others one example of an important grammar rule, then we might discuss how best to help the student internalize the concept."

                        In beginner classes, I tell students that the present continuous, in contrast with the present simple, is used for things we are doing at the moment. I also note that it has other uses which will be explained later.

                        I do not use the grammar terms unless they are in the students' books.

                        Jim Mahler
                      • Nelson Bank
                          If you grammarians would just give us others one example of an important grammar rule In English the subject goes before the verb. Nelson Bank [Non-text
                        Message 11 of 30 , Jul 14, 2009
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                           >If you grammarians would just give us others one example of an important grammar rule

                          In English the subject goes before the verb.

                          Nelson Bank

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Dave
                          ... Well of course, but it s difficult forming a habit in 6 hours of English a week....hence Jim s teaching a rule means telling the students explicitly
                          Message 12 of 30 , Jul 14, 2009
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                            >what you might call habit formation enables the student to produce
                            >grammatically correct utterances without recourse to articulated rules.

                            Well of course, but it's difficult forming a habit in 6 hours of English a
                            week....hence Jim's ""teaching a rule" means telling the students
                            explicitly" except the motto of my Italian class was "for every rule
                            there's an exception"

                            >, explicit teaching saves valuable classroom time.

                            yep, and then practice practice practice...

                            >But when it comes to the use of articles,

                            I couldn't find anything less than 2 sides either, even from OWL Purdue,
                            and it's the one commonest error, up to English major MAs...in China.

                            >Mert! Perhaps if you had learnt the rule 'i before e except after c' then
                            >your spelling

                            See my post last week, the Brits have decided i before e doesn't matter,
                            along with whether one adds milk to the tea, or puts milk in the cup
                            first.

                            >On this forum can we always make a point please of making sure that we
                            >state what
                            >approaches we are talking about for which students as different contexts
                            >require
                            >different kinds of lessons depending on who the students are and what do
                            >they need
                            >English for in the first place.

                            yep.

                            Dave Nevin
                          • Margaret Orleans
                            ... Even when you use the full rule: i before e, except after c or when sounded as a, as in neighbor and weigh, there are as many exceptions as non-exceptions,
                            Message 13 of 30 , Jul 14, 2009
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                              --- On Wed, 7/15/09, Dave <nevin@...> quoted someone:


                              > See my post last week, the Brits have decided i before e
                              > doesn't matter,
                              > along with whether one adds milk to the tea, or puts milk
                              > in the cup
                              > first.

                              Even when you use the full rule:

                              i before e,
                              except after c
                              or when sounded as a,
                              as in neighbor and weigh,

                              there are as many exceptions as non-exceptions, which doesn't make it a very useful rule, even though we all seem to remember it. Likewise with

                              When two vowels go out walking
                              the first one does the talking
                              and it says its own name.

                              In this case, the two examples within the rule itself are exceptions; if you count w as a vowel in "own," there is one non-exception. So, again, not a very useful rule, no matter how easy it is to memorize.

                              But there are lots of useful rules, like subjects come before predicates (Do they?) in statements, if they are properly modified. For Chinese students, subject-predicate order is not a problem, though. So they may not need that rule.

                              As Karen has pointed out a number of times, some learners (many adult learners) do better with rules; they match their analytical natures. It's probably best to offer lots of ways to learn the same material--examples, an explicit rule (given by the teacher or sussed out by students), error correction (perhaps the most debatable area of teaching in terms of efficacy), and practice, keeping in mind John's advice about our individual roles in our students' overall English education.

                              --Peg

                              --Peg
                            • mert_bland@yahoo.com
                              I asked this list to come up with any rules they felt compelled to teach. Nelson Banks came up with one rule: subject comes before the verb. Or as Margaret
                              Message 14 of 30 , Jul 15, 2009
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                                I asked this list to come up with any rules they felt compelled to teach.

                                Nelson Banks came up with one rule: subject comes before the verb. Or as Margaret Orleans said, subjects come before predicates. But Margaret added that subject-predicate order is not a problem so Chinese students may not need that rule. I agree with Margaret that English is a SVO langugage, but that most students seem to know this and so we need not articulate it. Besides, how does one teach language like "subject" and 'predicate?"

                                And I agree with Ria Smit that it's OK to articulate a rule after it has been internalized. A that point it won't interfer with communication. Jim Mahler seems ready to concede this point.

                                So can the list come up with other rules that we need to have the student memorize? Jim tells his students that the present continuous (I hate labels), in contrast to the simple present, is used when they are in the middle of doing something. Is that a rule that needs to be memorized?

                                Mert - Dr.M.L.Bland,Arlington, VA, USA
                              • Nelson Bank
                                ... It s good Mr. Bland remarked that this rule was already internalized for Chinese speakers. Another rule that is not internalized is use an article before
                                Message 15 of 30 , Jul 15, 2009
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                                  >Nelson Banks came up with one rule: subject comes before the verb>

                                  It's good Mr. Bland remarked that this rule was already internalized for Chinese speakers.
                                  Another rule that is not internalized is 'use an article before a noun'.
                                  Nelson Bank

                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Margaret Orleans
                                  ... I thought I had made it clear that I teach rules about article use (to high school students taking Advanced Writing, in their sixth--or more--year of
                                  Message 16 of 30 , Jul 16, 2009
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                                    --- On Thu, 7/16/09, mert_bland@... <mert_bland@...> wrote:


                                    >
                                    > I asked this list to come up with any rules they felt
                                    > compelled to teach.
                                    >

                                    I thought I had made it clear that I teach rules about article use (to high school students taking Advanced Writing, in their sixth--or more--year of studying grammar formally). The rules go like this, but they are actually presented in a handout as a sort of sieve, with lots of additional explanation and examples:

                                    1. Is the noun countable? If yes, see question 2. If not, see question 5.
                                    2. Is the noun singular? If yes, see question 3. If no, see question 4.
                                    3. Is the noun definite? (Definite means both the writer and reader know which specific example of the person/place/thing is meant. Definiteness can be achieved by uniqueness, context, or post modification, among other means.) If yes, use "the." If not, use "a" or "an."
                                    4. Is the noun definite. If yes, use "the." If not, don't use an article.
                                    5. Is the noun definite. If yes, use "the." If not, don't use an article.

                                    (These rules may seem a bit repetitive when not arranged as a sort of flow chart to which students can refer when they're uncertain which choice to make.)

                                    Being taught these rules is no guarantee that students will not make mistakes with articles. In fact, all of the students have been exposed to most of these rules in bits and pieces again and again in the previous five years. But many of them are finally ready to learn the rules because they want their writing to be more natural.

                                    When I taught writing to native speakers of English in U.S. high schools, this was an area of grammar that didn't need to be taught. But few EFL students will get the sort of exposure to spoken and written English from which native speakers learned how to use articles correctly.

                                    That's my example, Mert.

                                    --Peg
                                  • Merton Bland
                                    I asked this list to come up with any rules they felt compelled to teach.  Nelson Banks replied that he teaches use an article before a noun.     Margaret
                                    Message 17 of 30 , Jul 16, 2009
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                                      I asked this list to come up with any rules they felt compelled to teach.  Nelson Banks replied that he teaches "use an article before a noun."    Margaret Orleans went further into this concept.  She teaches rules about article use. The rules go like this, but they are actually presented in a handout as a sort of sieve, with lots of additional explanation and examples:

                                      1. Is the noun countable? If yes, see question 2. If not, see question 5.
                                      2. Is the noun singular? If yes, see question 3. If no, see question 4.
                                      3. Is the noun definite? (Definite means both the writer and reader know which specific example of the person/place/ thing is meant. Definiteness can be achieved by uniqueness, context, or post modification, among other means.) If yes, use "the." If not, use "a" or "an."
                                      4. Is the noun definite. If yes, use "the." If not, don't use an article.
                                      5. Is the noun definite. If yes, use "the." If not, don't use an article.
                                      She doesn't think the students a capable of memorizing the entire schema, so she prints it out and gives it to them as a reference.
                                      Well, as teachers of a language which uses articles to students whose language doesn't, we all recognize the importance of having our students internalize the concept.  Fortunately we do not teach a language, like any of the Romance languages that make nouns masculine or feminine and require the article to reflect that dichotomy.
                                      The communicative methodologists would simply duck the question, believing that immersion in the target language would internalize the concept of articles.
                                      So how do you others handle the subject?
                                      Mert - Dr.M.L.Bland, Arlington, VA, USA




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                                    • JimMahler@cox.net
                                      Mert Bland wrote: So can the list come up with other rules that we need to have the student memorize? Jim tells his students that the present continuous (I
                                      Message 18 of 30 , Jul 16, 2009
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                                        Mert Bland wrote: "So can the list come up with other rules that we need to have the student memorize? Jim tells his students that the present continuous (I hate labels), in contrast to the simple present, is used when they are in the middle of doing something. Is that a rule that needs to be memorized?"

                                        I do not believe the differences between the simple present and the present continuous constitute a rule to be memorized. Rather, I think the differences are something that the teacher should explain to the students while leading practice sessions. The explanation helps students better understand what they're practicing and why they're practicing it.

                                        Dr. Bland and I agree that the goal is to have students internalize or acquire the target language, so that they don't have to try to translate in their heads while carrying on a conversation. We also agree, I think, that such internalization will not occur without extensive practice and usage of the target language. We disagree over whether explicit grammar explanations help to speed up the internalization process: I believe they do; Dr. Bland appears to believe that explicit explanations are useless at best, and may even be harmful. (I'm sure he'll correct me if I've misstated his views.)

                                        And now may I ask Dr. Bland: What methods or techniques should a communicative methodologist use to ensure that students fully acquire the differences between the simple present and the present continuous?

                                        Jim Mahler
                                      • JimMahler@cox.net
                                        Merton Bland notes Margaret Orleans strategies for teaching articles, and says that communicative methodologists would simply duck the question, believing
                                        Message 19 of 30 , Jul 16, 2009
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                                          Merton Bland notes Margaret Orleans' strategies for teaching articles, and says that "communicative methodologists would simply duck the question, believing that immersion in the target language would internalize the concept...." He then asks how each of us would handle the subject.

                                          I greatly admire Margaret's courage and admit that I am nowhere near so brave. Like Dr. Bland, I try to avoid the subject. If students ask, however, I first explain the general meanings of "a/an," "the" and no article, usually using "fish for lunch" as an example. (I have occasionally been tempted to throw in "fishes" as well, but have never actually done so.)

                                          I emphasize that the usage of articles is very complex and there are no rules which will help them in all cases. However, there is a simple guideline which will help them get it right maybe 70 to 80 percent of the time: If they could comfortably use (a Chinese term usually translated as "that"), then "the" may be appropriate; if they could use (a Chinese term which literally means "one"), they might want to use "a/an"; and if they could use (the equivalents of "some" or "a little"), using no article might be acceptable.

                                          Finally, I refer interested students to the appropriate sections of Murphy, "Essential Grammar in Use."

                                          Dr. Bland must be shuddering at this confusion of "concept pods". It does appear to help the students somewhat in reading and writing, however. It seems to help very little, if at all, in conversational usage.

                                          Jim Mahler
                                        • Merton Bland
                                          Jim Mahler asked me:   What methods or techniques should a communicative methodologist use to ensure that students fully acquire the differences between the
                                          Message 20 of 30 , Jul 17, 2009
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                                            Jim Mahler asked me:
                                             "What methods or techniques should a communicative methodologist use to ensure that students fully acquire the differences between the simple present and the present continuous?"

                                            ---------------------------
                                            Use.  With the teacher hovering in the background and correcting errors without breaking the train of thought.  Our job is to get them there synapses to transmit the electrochemical impulses correctly.

                                            Mert - Dr.M.L.Bland, Arlington, VA, USA
                                          • JimMahler@cox.net
                                            Dr. Bland says the communicative methodologist teaches the present continuous by: Use. With the teacher hovering in the background and correcting errors
                                            Message 21 of 30 , Jul 18, 2009
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                                              Dr. Bland says the communicative methodologist teaches the present continuous by: "Use. With the teacher hovering in the background and correcting errors without breaking the train of thought." This begs a question: How do the students know what to use? Obviously, the teacher cannot just tell the students to talk about something and expect them to discover the present continuous on their own.

                                              Please, Mert, exactly what information does the teacher tell the students, and how is that information conveyed (explicit description, demonstration, or what)?

                                              Jim Mahler
                                            • Merton Bland
                                              Jim Mahler asks how the students know how and when to use the present continuous.  Simple.  When working with someone getting started in a new language one
                                              Message 22 of 30 , Jul 18, 2009
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                                                Jim Mahler asks how the students know how and when to use the present continuous.  Simple.  When working with someone getting started in a new language one usually starts with what is familiar and spirals out from there. Most people know their own name. So the teacher can point to himself and say, "my name is Jim Mahler," then point to the student and ask, "what is your name?"  In eliciting information from the student about the student one is bound to encounter the present continuous, i.e., I am working at McDonalds, especially in answer to a question employing the present continuous.. If the student errs in using the present continuous correctly the teacher models the correct form (without breaking the student's thought), and voila! we've gotten started.
                                                 
                                                Mert - Dr.M.L.Bland, Arlington, VA, USA 
                                              • Dave
                                                ... email from a student who normally gets 97% in tests and exams, 17yrs old... The original : Some people argue that the living room is surely a more healthy
                                                Message 23 of 30 , Jul 19, 2009
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                                                  >If you grammarians would just give us others one
                                                  >example of an important grammar rule, then we might discuss how best to
                                                  >help the student internalize the concept.

                                                  email from a student who normally gets 97% in tests and exams, 17yrs old...

                                                  "The original :

                                                  Some people argue that the living room is surely a more healthy place of
                                                  entertainment than a dark and smoky movie theater .

                                                  Why is the article "the" placed before the phrase "living room" ? Can I
                                                  obmit the article "the" ? or replace "the" by "a" ?

                                                  Lastly , Can I replace "of" by "for" ?"

                                                  I notice THE has 6 pages in Murphy :-((((

                                                  please explain ....

                                                  Dave Nevin
                                                • Dave
                                                  ... high school - pages from Murphy. bilingual. Juniors advanced writing - 2 A4 sheets from OWL Purdue. Sophomores writing - ditto ... Draw timelines on the
                                                  Message 24 of 30 , Jul 19, 2009
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                                                    >The communicative methodologists would simply duck the question,
                                                    >believing that immersion in the target language would internalize the
                                                    >concept of articles. So how do you others handle the subject?

                                                    high school - pages from Murphy. bilingual.
                                                    Juniors advanced writing - 2 A4 sheets from OWL Purdue.
                                                    Sophomores writing - ditto

                                                    >to ensure that students fully acquire the differences between the
                                                    >simple present and the present continuous?

                                                    Draw timelines on the board.
                                                    I eat breakfast. sp -habitual -every day
                                                    I am eating now. pc - began a while ago and is still munching...
                                                    ? I think I should delete this part :-)

                                                    Dave Nevin
                                                  • Margaret Orleans
                                                    ... Because each house has only one living room, that living room is known to both the writer/speaker and reader/listener. Or because the living room stands
                                                    Message 25 of 30 , Jul 20, 2009
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                                                      --- Dave wrote:

                                                      > email from a student who normally gets 97% in tests and
                                                      > exams, 17yrs old...
                                                      >
                                                      > "The original :
                                                      >
                                                      > Some people argue that the living room is surely a more
                                                      > healthy place of
                                                      > entertainment than a dark and smoky movie theater .
                                                      >
                                                      > Why is the article "the"  placed before the phrase
                                                      > "living room" ?

                                                      Because each house has only one living room, that living room is known to both the writer/speaker and reader/listener. Or because the living room stands for all living rooms, just as when we say someone plays the piano, meaning that particular instrument as opposed to other kinds of instruments, but any piano rather than a particular piano.

                                                      > Can I
                                                      > obmit the article "the" ?

                                                      No, because "living room" is singular and countable. Only uncountable or plural nouns (without other determiners in front of them) can stand without an article.

                                                      > or replace "the" by "a" ?

                                                      Yes, because no one particular living room is meant and there is a nice parallel with "a theater." However, you can't change the "a" in front of theater to "the" because the adjectives don't limit it to a particular theater (and while a given person will likely have only one living room (s)he will frequent more than one theater).

                                                      >
                                                      > Lastly , Can I replace "of" by "for" ?"

                                                      Yes. If you look at the BNC or COCA you will find equal (though very small) numbers of examples of each phrase. However, "place for entertainment" tends to refer to a city or region rather than a single room or structure. But the examples are really too few to generalize.



                                                      --Peg
                                                    • JimMahler@cox.net
                                                      Dr. Bland says that, in teaching the present continuous, the teacher should ask questions in that tense (such as Where are you working -- I am working at
                                                      Message 26 of 30 , Jul 20, 2009
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                                                        Dr. Bland says that, in teaching the present continuous, the teacher should ask questions in that tense (such as "Where are you working" -- "I am working at McDonalds"). If the student errs in answering, the teacher models the correct form. Dr. Bland implies that the teacher should give no introductory explanations. I have three questions I hope Dr. Bland will clarify.

                                                        Question 1: In a class of 40 or 50 students, should the teacher use this "elicitation/modeling" technique with each individual student, or simply pick a few to use as demonstrators?

                                                        Question 2: Using this technique, without time lines or any other explicit explanation of the grammar, how long does it take a typical student to understand the difference (or even recognize that there is a difference) between, say, "I walk to school" and "I am walking to school"? (Dr. Bland's "working at McDonalds" example does not clearly demonstrate this difference.)

                                                        Question 3: The "elicitation/modeling" technique will certainly make the students wonder about the meaning of what they are being taught to say. They will perforce use their own native language to try to puzzle out the answer. Isn't this counterproductive, if the goal is to get the students to think in English?

                                                        Jim Mahler
                                                      • Merton Bland
                                                        Jim Mahler asked me to elaborate on the communicative approch s methology . Question: how long does it take a typical student to understand the difference (or
                                                        Message 27 of 30 , Jul 23, 2009
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                                                          Jim Mahler asked me to elaborate on the communicative approch's methology'.


                                                          Question: how long does it take a typical student to understand the difference (or even recognize that there is a difference?)
                                                          Answer: It depends.  How long did it take you, Jim?   Were you using that tense at the age of three?
                                                          Question: When the student internally forms his own rule does he do it in his native language or the target language?  I don't now, and perhaps he is unable to articulate it in either language.
                                                          Question:  Does the teacher correct each student? 
                                                          Answer:  Well, he corrects whoever makes a mistake in his presence..
                                                           
                                                          Mert - Dr.M.L.Bland, Arlington, VA, USA
                                                           
                                                           

                                                           


                                                           




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                                                        • Stephen McNeill
                                                          Jim Mahler s post is an excellent representation of how difficult our language can be. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TEFLChina/message/15139 Stephen McNeill
                                                          Message 28 of 30 , Jul 28, 2009
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                                                            Jim Mahler's post is an excellent representation of how difficult our language can be.
                                                            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TEFLChina/message/15139

                                                            Stephen McNeill
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