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Teaching Grammatical Structures Using ESA Method

In this article, you will learn how to teach (present and practice) grammatical structures using the ESA method.

The new grammatical structures we teach are largely determined by:

  • The level of the class and
  • The course syllabus we are using.

However, in all cases, the students always need to

  • Know what the structure means (Meaning),
  • How and when it is used (Use),
  • How it is formed (Form & Pattern) and
  • How it is said/written (Differences between spoken and written form) For example, in written form “I am going to…..” often becomes “I’m gonna…..” in spoken form.

The ESA (Engage, Study & Activate) Method to Teach the Grammatical Structures:

Here is what you should do in each stage:


  • Discussion.
  • Scenario or situation building.
  • Prompting.
  • Question and answer.
  • Use of pictures, drawings, real objects, mime, etc.


  • Practise the intonation and pronunciation of the structure.
  • Use sentence word order and sentence-building activities (unscramble jumbled sentences, etc.) for controlled practice.
  • Students look at the structure in context through texts and dialogues.
  • They repeat the structure in chorus and individually (Drilling).
  • Use gap-filling exercises for guided practice.
  • Use information gaps tasks for free practice.


To encourage structure production, you can use:

  • Communication games.
  • Role-play.
  • Story building.
  • Discussion/debate.

A Typical ESA Patchwork Grammar Lesson for Mid-Level Students

The learning objective – “At the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Talk/write about films and books using the past simple tense.


Students discuss their favourite books/films; what they liked about them, etc. If the teacher has told them in advance, they can bring copies in.


In pairs, students write a brief synopsis of a book or film they have seen.


From the synopsis, analyze the usage of the past simple tense. Further study activities to reinforce meaning, formation and pronunciation should follow.


In groups, students write a short story from picture prompts.


The group passes the story to another group and checks for correct past tense usage. Any errors discussed/analyzed in class.


Use a chain story communication game; one student starts the story, the next continues, and so on.

Final Word

Teaching grammatical structures is one of the essential skills that you must master to be a successful EFL teacher.

The following are the other essential skills that every EFL teacher must develop and master in order to achieve success and promotion in the TEFL job.

  • Teaching Speaking.
  • Teaching Writing.
  • Teaching Reading & Listening.
  • Teaching Vocabulary.
  • Teaching Structures.
  • Lesson Planning.
  • Applying the Most Common TEFL Methods.
  • Classroom Management.
  • Addressing Characteristics of Learners.
  • Error Correction.
  • Assessment & Testing.

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