We need to have some grammatical knowledge to be able to speak a language to some degree of proficiency and to be able to say what we really want to say. Without grammar, words hang together without any real meaning or sense. By teaching grammar, we enable students to express themselves correctly. Thanks to using deductive and inductive approaches to dealing with grammatical rules nowadays, teaching grammar no longer means endless conjugation of verbs or grammar translation.
How to Use These Two Approaches to Teaching Grammar
- A deductive approach is when the rule is presented, and the language is produced based on the rule. (The teacher gives the rule)
- An inductive approach is when the rule is inferred through some form of guided discovery. (The teacher gives the students a means to discover the rule for themselves)
In other words, the former is more teacher centered and the latter more learner centered. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.
In my own experience, the deductive approach is undoubtedly time saving and allows more time for practicing the language items thus making it an effective approach with lower level students. The inductive approach, on the other hand, is often more beneficial to students who already have a base in the language as it encourages them to work things out for themselves based on their existing knowledge.
In general, when teaching grammar, there are several factors we need to take into consideration and the following are some of the questions we should ask ourselves before deciding on the approach to use:
- How useful and relevant is the language?
- What other language do my students need to know in order to learn the new structure effectively?
- What problems might my students face when learning the new language?
- How can I make the lesson fun, meaningful and memorable?
Although I try to only use English when teaching a grammar lesson, it is sometimes beneficial to the students to make a comparison to L1 in the presentation stage. This is particularly true in the case of more problematic grammatical structures which students are not able to transfer to their own language.
The Lesson Structure Based on Deductive Approach
A deductive approach often fits into a lesson structure known as PPP (Presentation, Practice, Production). The teacher presents the target language and then gives students the opportunity to practice it through very controlled activities. The final stage of the lesson gives the students the opportunity to practice the target language in freer activities which bring in other language elements.
In a 60-minute lesson each stage would last approximately 20 minutes. This model works well as it can be used for most isolated grammatical items. It also allows the teacher to time each stage of the lesson fairly accurately and to anticipate and be prepared for the problems’ students may encounter. It is less workable at higher levels when students need to compare and contrast several grammatical items at the same time.
In this stage the teacher presents the new language in a meaningful context. I find that building up stories on the board, using realia or flashcards and miming are fun ways to present the language.
There are numerous activities which can be used for this stage including gap fill exercises, substitution drills, sentence transformations, split sentences, picture dictations, class questionnaires, reordering sentences and matching sentences to pictures.
It is important that the activities are fairly controlled at this stage as students have only just met the new language. Many student’s books and workbooks have exercises and activities which can be used at this stage.
Again there are numerous activities for this stage and what you choose will depend on the language you are teaching and on the level of your students. However, information gaps, role plays, interviews, simulations, find someone who, spot the differences between two pictures, picture cues, problem solving, personalization activities and board games are all meaningful activities which give students the opportunity to practice the language more freely.
It is important to note here that using the PPP model does not necessarily exclude using a more inductive approach since some form of learner centered guided discovery could be built into the presentation stage.
PPP is one model for planning a lesson. Other models include TTT (Test, Teach, Test), ARC (Authentic use, Restricted use, Clarification and focus) and ESA (Engage, Study, Activate). All models have their advantages and disadvantages and I, like many other teachers I know, use different models depending on the lesson, class, level and learner styles.
Which Model do You Prefer Using to Plan a Lesson? Why? Share your Ideas with the Community.
And if you want to know more about these models, I’m planning for publishing an article on them as soon as possible. So please, subscribe to my blog to be notified of my latest posts and publications and also to get my FREE GIFTS: Two of My Featured ELT Guides.