Grammar in an ESL Classroom

In teaching an ESL class you must demand of yourself to be a knowledgeable and prepared teacher.  Knowledge of grammar can help teachers prepare lessons more accurately and thwart potential problems students might face.  However, a more flexible ‘learning as you go’ approach does have its place in an ESL classroom.  A teacher can’t possibly learn every conceivable grammar rule and master word usage of the entire English language before they enter their first ESL classroom.  There is so much more to teaching ESL than grammar.   A teacher must balance their time between learning grammar and producing quality lesson plans that involve speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary, and activities.

Knowing grammar can benefit an ESL teacher in several ways.  The most common benefit could be being able to answer questions that students ask.  An example of what a student might ask is, “why do I say chairs but not dirts.”  Answering this question requires knowledge of count nouns and non-count nouns.  Knowledge of grammar can also help a teacher in the preparation of material. For example, in preparing a lesson it’s useful to know that an indirect object can occur before and after the direct object.  For example in the sentences:

Tim gave Sally the ball.

Time gave the ball to Sally.

The teacher can then add these types of sentences to activities in order to help students learn this important rule without having to be taught a dry grammar rule.