In PYP, I created new accessories to enhance students’ engagement and to increase student awareness of grammar. For example, instead of teaching how the personal pronouns work in French, I use masks. Students wearing masks feel more at ease to participate and to understand the differences between ‘I’ and ‘we’, as well as ‘you’ and ‘they’ forms, as they can embody the grammar forms. For example, ‘I’ can be a pirate, whereas ‘we’ can stand for Animals.
Even shy students have fun and express themselves more openly because of these masks.
During the 70’s, the traditional model in teaching the grammar of a target language was abandoned for more communicative approaches. What good news!
We saw the need to teach grammar forms and structures in relation to meaning and use, for the specific communication tasks that students need to complete. For example, instead of asking students to write 10 sentences to understand that in French the verb changes according to number, gender, person and tense, we now give two accurate and appropriate statement examples of the current unit. Then, we ask the students to read the statements, find the differences, and ask questions about points they don’t understand. By sharing information, we help them to understand the rule logically.
Also, we understood that students should be taught to use their knowledge of English or another language when learning the target language. In French language, it is quite easy, as English and French grammar share certain similarities. All my Grade 2-5 students know that many common and declarative sentences in English follow an order: the subject of a sentence comes directly in front of the verb.
Using simplified terms that make sense for “ subject” and “verb”, students can easily create a common French sentence.
Using an inter-lingual approach can be key for some to teach grammar. Helping the students to compare and contrast the two languages and find the differences, as well as giving them little by little an awareness of language, has proved to be efficient.
Researchers have also explained how to mix this approach with the inter-lingual approach, which results in inputs and interaction and is also very effective.
As far as I am concerned, I use different strategies and the one I have been using more often these past two years is: flipping class. This strategy ensures student involvement, interest, and understanding when I expect them to understand certain grammar. For example, working in groups to understand and to teach others how to create questions and why there is three words for my in French, generally works quite well.