Ladderized Grammar Teaching Approach
Mel M. Garcia
The success of any institution boils down to its trade secret which impacts its workers. Similarly, in a classroom situation, the success of a teaching-learning process sits in its very core or foundation. The end result will always be the students who are the center of learning.
Teaching is done for all the right reasons and it usually employs all the effective ways to sustain the students’ interest to learn. Moreover, effective teaching first and foremost encompasses a great deal of a search where students are at their weakest.
We may be shooting at a target which in the first place may not be the source of the problem. As they say idiomatically, “We may be barking up the wrong tree.
This best practice (Ladderized Grammar Teaching Approach) comes in as a result of our diagnostic tests which have revealed the weakest link among our students’ chain of learning competencies – GRAMMAR.
Since the K to 12 Curriculum does not support a ladderized system of learning the basic structures of the English language, grammar learning has become a problem among high school students.
Our present curriculum has focused more on the teaching of literature and other competencies, thus making grammar lessons incidental in its approach. This means that lessons on narratives, poems, dramas and essays have been given more time and emphasis in the curriculum. Grammar lessons are very few and most of the time, the lessons are way beyond the understanding of the students.
There are lessons in the lower grade English that are technically difficult for the freshmen to comprehend. Lessons like changing DIRECT SPEECH to INDIRECT SPEECH deals with highly complicated and interconnected lessons, since it requires full mastery of the basic grammatical structures of English.
Many students have also been diagnosed to have not mastered even how a noun may be used in a sentence. They can recognize nouns in an utterance yet the idea of how nouns behave in a sentence is a completely different skill that students should learn so they may advance to learning the higher structures.
Another problem enters the scenario with DepEd’s assumption that the Eight Parts of Speech have already been mastered by our learners during their elementary days; hence, the basic grammar lessons have not been given more weight in the teaching of English in Junior High School. Sad to say, this has become the real score in terms of learning the fundamentals of the English language.
This and other concerns have pushed the author to brain child the BEST PRACTICE OF TEACHING GRAMMAR USING A LADDERIZED APPROACH at the Cabiao National High School (Junior High School).
This BEST PRACTICE of teaching the students the basics of the English language is designed to support the K to 12 Curriculum.
Lessons is English are intertwined. One topic ushers the next topic. We cannot teach adjectives right away without discussing the words they describe which are nouns and pronouns. Likewise, we cannot teach compound and complex sentences without teaching first clauses, parts of a sentence, conjunctions and little ruling on parallelism. These lessons cannot be taught without going back to the lessons connected to them. Thus, a ladderized approach in teaching grammar is practically the best recourse.
The grammar lessons will be scheduled to be taught at least twice a week with the other lessons designed to strengthen or fortify its implementation.
Spelling, vocabulary and speech lessons will be utilized as tools to make grammar learning a little more interesting.
If nouns are the focus in the grammar lesson for the day and are scheduled to be discussed on a Tuesday, words for the spelling, vocabulary or speech lesson will be all nouns in order to help students have an advance understanding of words on how they are spelled, what they mean or how they are pronounced. This way the students will gain a different perspective on how a specific structure may be learned. Learning does not only become more interesting but also more informative. It is like shooting many birds with one stone.
The teacher uses a blend of traditional and modern approaches to teaching grammar from motivation to evaluation. (and assignment, if it is still legally permitted.)
The teacher employs an array of motivational tactics before the students are engaged into the actual grammar lessons. He usually utilizes semantic webbing, meta cards and flash cards, pictures, video clips, games, listening texts, reading texts, puzzles and trivia, anecdotes, error analysis activities, pop quiz and on the spot word contest.
The teacher uses any of these motivational activities as the springboard in introducing the lesson for the day.
Time tested lesson development methods of teaching are usually used to discuss a grammar structure such as the DEDUCTIVE and INDUCTIVE METHODS. Diagramming sentences is also often used to explain the relationship among words. These methods are proven to be effective in making the students understand a grammar concept. The teacher infuses modern techniques such as interactive teaching styles which often include games and puzzles.
Teaching the form of a structure first over its function contribute to better absorption of the concept. During the application part of the lesson, drills and exercises are effective in making the students remember the form and function of specific structure of the language. The students are often engaged into GROUP and INDIVIDUAL drills. Substitution drills are also effective in showing the relationships between two related grammatical structures.
As the evaluation comes in, the students are introduced to multi-faceted activities ranging from short quizzes, games and contests, dyads, presentations in the form of role playing, dramatization to listening, speaking, reading, writing and viewing activities.
In consideration of the students’ multi-intelligences, differentiated activities are often administered to them. Activities like singing, monologue, speech choir, poem recitation and news casting may be given as evaluation activities with a note that each activity must highlight the structure that has been discussed.
The teaching of grammar as a best practice in our school is also in support to the school’s Special Program in Journalism (SPJ). Having a steady grammar is a prerequisite to any writing discipline. Writing news, infomercials and the whole script in a broadcast program require very good grammar skills. Our broadcasters have made it to the Regional Schools Press Conference and even won best script which was a clear result of grammar efficiency.
The acquisition of great grammar skills is a stepping stone to language fluency which can help understand other subjects across the curriculum. Studies have proven that when students can read with comprehension, they can also work with ease on problem-solving activities in Math and Science.
Grammar, particularly the knowledge in sentence structure, is an aid to the interpretation of literature. Even history tells us that the great philosophers studied grammar as basic course in the development of reasoning (logic).
Only when the grammar is proper, do the sentences make sense. Hence, it is important to realize the importance of grammar in learning a language. It includes the instructions on how language should be used. It plays a significant role since it is a catalyst for good language use.
A house, when is being built, starts with all the foundations. In the same manner, a student who wishes to build his English prowess should start with its foundations – Grammar.