Advice on teaching grammar


There have always been different approaches to the teaching of grammar within the languages classroom. There is not yet (nor may there ever be) a consensus on the optimum way to teach it. However, this section highlights a few key points for consideration for those involved in designing a scheme of work or planning lessons at KS2, KS3 and KS4:

  1. Consider the options and choose the approach that seems to offer the best fit for the pupils’ age, stage, ability, prior knowledge, and prior experience.
  2. Look at the ALL Connect KS2 Grammar Module for an example of grammar teaching through story, and consider whether this approach to teaching nouns, gender, plurals, articles, adjectives and key verbs might not only work for KS2 but might also be appropriate at KS3 (and beyond).
  3. Be mindful of the primary national curriculum for English, and its requirements in terms of grammatical concepts and terminology. The introduction to Appendix 2 reads: The grammar of our first language is learnt naturally and implicitly through interactions with other speakers and from reading. Explicit knowledge of grammar is, however, very important, as it gives us more conscious control and choice in our language. Building this knowledge is best achieved through a focus on grammar within the teaching of reading, writing and speaking. There is a breakdown of grammatical terms and the year when they are introduced. We often find that students know the terms but cannot relate them to examples of language in use. How can we best build on the prior knowledge, even if it is partial or superficial? It seems advisable that we are clear about the terminology and concepts that they were introduced to, and when this first happened.
  4. Consider also to what extent grammatical terminology can be consistent with prior learning, and also whether we can transfer it into the target language, so that we do not need to use English just because we are talking about grammar. Given that grammar knowledge is a significant part of our teaching, it is important to consider how we can accomplish it without reducing the opportunities for spoken interaction in the target language.
  5. Keep in the mind the applications of grammar, i.e. recognise that students need grammar for speaking, writing, reading and listening, and that we should provide opportunities for using grammar across all four skills.

And finally…

We must remember that, whenever there are changes to a curriculum or educational policy, there is a tendency to assume that we need to change or abandon previous practice. Let us make sure that we retain any current practice that is already very effective!

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