Assignment 4 > Take into account that dialogue is a common way to introduce a grammar topic in the Communicative Approach, and that grammar, vocabulary, the macro skills of listening, reading, speaking, and writing, are presented through dialogues, situations or texts, where the structure (grammar) is used communicatively. For example, if you were to present this dialogue in a lesson for high beginners, or low intermediate, you, in fact, would be teaching a grammar lesson communicatively. The students will be introduced to the main structures or functions in the dialogue in the presentation stage, then they will do some drilling in the practice stage, and they will be prepared to, say, role-play, a similar dialogue with your guidance (pictures, role cards, etc), in the production stage. You will also be adding some vocabulary (related to the context) so that in the production stage of the lesson, they will be able to role-play this dialogue freely.
For Assignment 4, you can choose a grammar topic that is easily taught through functions. If you want to choose a grammar topic that is very structured and involves a lot of vocabulary, like articles, conjunctions, or adjectives, always make sure that you embed that vocabulary in one structure. For instance, don’t just teach nouns. Teach countable versus uncountable nouns in the structure “simple past tense + article + noun”. Find a way (a text, a dialogue, a video clip, …) to show how that grammar topic is used in real life by native speakers of English, and apply the principles of Communicative Approach.
Check this link where you will find sample pages of an ESL textbook that is used in many schools around the world http://www.esl.net/interchange_third_edition.html. The series is called New Interchange. There are different levels, but you will see in every sample chapter that there is some sort of “introduction to the topic” in what they call Snapshot. Then there is a dialogue, which contains the grammar topic of the lesson and a synopsis of the structure (Presentation Stage); then the Practice stage where the students practice the structure or function, some pronunciation practice, and finally, there is always some kind of Production, which can be a survey, a discussion or writing activity. There is also extra vocabulary, listening or reading. You can use this for ideas on how to teach a topic communicatively.
For this grammar lesson plan, make sure you do not teach a grammar topic using old approaches (Direct Method, or Audiolingualism) where the grammar topics were explained/ lectured by the teacher, and it was all about presenting examples of sentences with that structure. Use the Communicative Approach principles: the target language is presented in context. One thing that I will be looking for is that all the steps in the Presentation, Practice, and Production stages of the grammar lesson plan are there and are in the right order. I also want to see a good context, and an interesting create interest step as well as a creative production stage. Please write this lesson carefully, paying attention to the purpose of each step. The purpose means what you are focused on in the step.
Some of the easier structures to teach are generally thought to be: one of the functions of one of the verb tenses, the comparative or superlative, a set of modal verbs + base form, main clause + subordinate clause connected with a certain set of subordinate conjunctions, or one of the passive voice constructions.
A grammar lesson will include speaking and/or writing. Both of these are productive macro-skills. Grammar lessons taught communicatively means that the grammar is being taught but ultimately, it is part of something more important which is communication. So, I suggest that you come up with a speaking activity for the production stage of the lesson. You may find it beneficial to come up with the production activity first so you know where you want to take them in the lesson. The production will show you the theme you have chosen for the entire lesson and will help you come up with materials and examples for every step. Remember that the production stage is the goal of the lesson. You are teaching and practising the grammar and so on so that when they get to the production stage, they are able to do something communicative and meaningful just a little bit better than they would have at the start of the lesson. Grammar accuracy is not the “goal” of the lesson. Communication is, and grammar is one element of it.
I have also included in this email a summary of the Practice Stage, the following paragraph. This is just a quick summary of the practice stage drills that are meant to help you organize your activities so that the right type of drill is in the right place.
In the methodology module, there is a summary of the three stages of the grammar PPP lesson. You will see a difference between that summary and the template but it is only a minor thing. I’ll explain:
In the module, you have 5 steps listed, though there are actually 6 written out.
1. Create interest in the topic
2. Present new language in context
3. Model new language
5. Elicitation and Systematization on the board. <<< this is the different thing. In this list, the elicitation step and the systematization step are combined into one. In my list in the template, they are separated. There is no actual difference in the amount of information needed in the presentation stage, just that in this version, all of the questions that lead the students to show that they comprehend the new material are gathered into one step (step five). In my template, they are separated – elicitation of the function is in step 3 and then systematization is in step 6. Either way is fine.
Elicitation questions are used to help the students figure out what the function and structure are without the teacher having to simply tell them that information. They are used to figure out the structure in the lesson being studied, but also when the students do not have a teacher around who can help them, they will know what questions to ask themselves in order to figure new language out. Examples of concept questions for the structure of “I am swimming tomorrow” (present continuous for future plans) could be: Is this sentence about now or the future (future)? When did the person decide to do it (before)? Is it a plan or a hope (plan). From these few questions, the students know that the plan was made in the past and the person is talking about the future. That’s all that is needed. For the structure, you could ask: What is the main verb (swim). What is the form of the main verb (base verb + ing)? What is the verb before it (be) What tense is the be-verb in (present)? That’s all that is necessary here. I hope that helps you with making good concept questions!
Looking at the examples in the material, we can see examples of how different teachers have approached the grammar lesson plans. Sample lesson 1, should + base form verb to give advice, is more like what you are learning to get the hang of at this time. You have step 1 – create interest (spider graph) > step 2 – presenting new language in context (dialogue) > step 3 – elicitation of the function and exponent (questions) > step 4 – modeling and pronunciation (combined in this lesson plan as it makes a bit more sense to do it that way here) > step 5 – systematization (more questions)
In my template, there is something called “techniques”. This is not something that we specifically mention in the course, but you can see them throughout the materials. Technique refers to the label you would give a particular activity. For example, personalization, debate, matching, fill in the blanks, answering questions, mind mapping, discussion, listing, categorization, writing a postcard, note-taking, guessing game, repetition, substitution, role-play, and so on. Do your best to name your activity clearly. If it isn’t one of the standard technique names (ex: repetition, matching, guided role-play), that’s perfectly fine.
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