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Teaching grammar: a taskbased approach


In what ways are grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation interrelated? What is a task' ... Grammar and pronunciation. A woman without her man is nothing. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Teaching grammar: a taskbased approach

Teaching grammar a task-based approach
  • David Nunan

  • With the development of communicative approaches
    to language teaching, the place of grammar has
    been uncertain. There are those who argue that
    there is no place for a formal focus on grammar
    in the communicative classroom of today. I do not
    share this view. In this presentation, I will
    argue that grammar has a central and fundamental
    place in the curriculum. However, this does not
    mean I am arguing for a return to "traditional"
    ways of teaching grammar. In the first plart of
    the presentation, I will explain what it means to
    look at grammar as a tool for communication
    rather than as a body of content to be memorized.
    I will then give practical examples of how
    teachers can implement these ideas in their

Questions addressed in the presentation
  • What is grammar?
  • Whats the difference between a prescriptive
    and a descriptive grammar?
  • In what ways are grammar, vocabulary and
    pronunciation interrelated?
  • What is a task?

Warm up task Dictogloss
  • My name is David Nunan. I am a teacher. I live in
    Hong Kong, but I travel a lot. This is my second
    visit to Cambodia. I love the weather, the food
    and the people in here in Cambodia. I look
    forward to meeting new frends during the

Traditional definition 1
  • Grammar may be roughly defined as the way
    language manipulates and combines words (or bits
    of words) in order to form longer units of
    meaning (Ur 1988, p.4).

Traditional definition 2
  • Grammar is a description of the structure of a
    language and the way in which units such as words
    and phrases are combined to produce sentences in
    the language (Richards, Platt and Weber, 2003).

Traditional definition 3
  • Grammar is the way in which words change
    themselves and group together to make sentences.
    The grammar of a language is what happens to
    words when they become plural or negative, or
    what order is used when we make questions or join
    two clauses to make one sentence (Harmer, 1987).

Grammar and pronunciation
  • Shes Italian, isnt she?
  • (rising intonation)
  • I believe that shes Italian, but Im really
    not certain.
  • (falling intonation)
  • Im pretty sure shes Italian, but Id like
    your confirmation on that.
  • Shes Italian, is she? (rising intonation)
  • I thought she was Spanish, but Ive just
    received information that leads me to revise my

Grammar and pronunciation
  • A woman without her man is nothing.
  • A woman without her man (pause) is nothing.
  • A woman (pause) without her man is nothing.

Grammar and vocabulary
  • Mary J. Blige has been dubbed the Queen of
    hip-hop Soul, but shes really an old-fashioned
    blues singer wrapped in hip-hop beats and soul
    grooves. (Rolling Stone September 18, 2003, page
  • Mary J. Blige … the Queen of hip-hop … she … an
    old-fashioned blues singer

A communicative definition
  • Grammar is a resource that enables us
  • to get things done
  • to make choices
  • to express ourselves as individuals
  • to articulate our feelings and attitudes

From principles to pedagogy
  • Teach grammar as an extremely flexible resource
    for making meaning.
  • As far as possible, integrate the teaching of
    grammar with the teaching of pronunciation and
  • Help learners see relationships between form and
  • Teach students how to use grammar to make
    appropriate choices and express their own
    personal meanings.

Repetition The traditional approach
  • T She can speak Spanish (French).
  • Ss She can speak French.
  • T They
  • Ss They can speak French.
  • T German - cant
  • Ss They cant speak German
  • (etc.)

A task-based approach
  • Tasks
  • have a primary focus on meaning
  • learners are not given other peoples meanings to
  • have an outcome other than the manipulation and
    practice of language forms
  • generate language use that has some resemblance
    to real-world language

True / false
True / false
  • GFI 2e Level 2 Page 31 Task 4

Figure it out
  • GFI 2e Level 2 page 3 Tasks 3a b

Figure it out
  • GFI 2e Level 2 page 3 Tasks 3a b

  • Procedure An object to be stolen is decided
    onsay a coin or a ring. Once student (the
    detective) is sent out of the room. One of the
    remaining students is given the object he or she
    is the thief.
  • The detective returns and tries to find out who
    the thief is by asking participants Do you have
    it/the ring?

  • Each participantincluding the actual
    thiefdenies guilt, and accuses someone else.
    No, I dont have it. A has it! Whereupon, the
    detective turns to A with the same questionand
    so on, until everyone has been asked and has
    denied responsibility. The detective then has to
    decide in three guesses who is lyingwho looks
    guilty. The process is then repeated with another
    detective and another thief. (Ur 1988)

  • GFI 2e Leve l2 page 6 Task 4 Go For It

Information gap
Information gap (cont.)
  • Preparation, when the learner finds out about the
    topic of the text and is prepared for some of the
  • Dictation, when the learner hears the text and
    takes fragmentary notes. (Wajnryb recommends that
    the text be read twice, at normal speed. The
    first time through, learners simply listen to get
    a general sense of what the text is about. The
    second time, they write down key words.)
  • Reconstruction, in which learners work in small
    groups, pool their notes, and reconstruct the
  • Analysis and correction, when learners analyze
    and correct their texts. Wajnryb (1990)

Role play
  • Nunan, D. 1999. Second Language Teaching and
    Learning. Boston Thomson/Heinle.
  • Nunan, D. 2004. Practical English Language
    Teaching Grammar. New York McGraw Hill.
  • Pennington, M. 1995. New Ways in Teaching
    Grammar. Alexandria VA TESOL.
  • Thornbury, S. 1999. How to Teach Grammar. London
  • Ur, P. 1988. Grammar Practice Activities.
    Cambridge Cambridge University Press.

Web sites
  • http//ec.hku.hk/vec/grammar/default.htm
  • http//www.ohiou.edu/esl/teacher/grammar.html
  • http//owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/esl/
  • http//esl.about.com/cs/grammar
  • http//expressions.heinle.com
  • http//www.eslcafe.com
  • http//goforit.heinle.com
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