Published 22nd June 2017
Learning grammar is an integral part of learning English and it’s not something we can avoid. Sadly, grammar in the classroom is often taught in lessons which are about as dry as a cream cracker. It’s no wonder our students seem to have a mental block against it and teachers dread it!
Thankfully, there is no need for our grammar lessons to be so boring. Just like we can incorporate fun and games into other aspects of teaching, so we can make sure our grammar lessons are enjoyable and interesting. As an added bonus, lessons which are more engaging are bound to be more effective too – a win-win for everyone involved.
How do we accomplish the impossible?
By getting rid of grammar exercises and drills and incorporating more of what we like into our lessons. More specifically, using music and film. Here’s how:
Who doesn’t love a good song? Music is the perfect vehicle to teach a grammar point. Music tells a story, is appealing to most people and can be analysed for context and meaning before being utilised to teach grammar.
The trick is to find songs which teach what we want them to teach. Lucky for you, a quick internet search will show you which songs can be used for which grammar points.
Second conditional: If I Were a Boy – Beyonce
Comparatives and superlatives: Simply the Best – Tina Turner
Used to: Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye
Present perfect: Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2
Future continuous: Every Breath You Take – The Police
Once you’ve found the perfect song, draw up a gap-fill activity to draw students’ attention to the grammar, think of some comprehension questions to ensure understanding and you’re good to go. Oh, and don’t forget to allow time for a bit of a sing-along – students love a bit of karaoke!
Movies are another winner in the classroom. When teaching a grammar point there is no need to show an entire film; rather pick a clip or trailer which shows the grammar point clearly and in context.
For example, the trailer of the 2009 movie The Box, starring Cameron Diaz, can be used to teach the first conditional. Students can watch the trailer and fill in a gap-fill activity on the relevant sentences before moving on to discuss the meaning of the clip. Further work can be done, if necessary, to extend the lesson into teaching the second conditional.
In this way, a 3-minute clip can be used as the basis for an entire lesson. Plus, it’s a lot more interesting.
So the next time you are thinking of dealing with a grammar point in the classroom, before automatically turning to PPP, stop and think if there are perhaps any songs or movies which can be used to make your point instead. Your students will thank you.