As English tutors, do you cringe when your student starts asking grammar questions? When I was a new brand new English teacher, I taught grammar points in small doses, but did not feel comfortable at all if students started asking more technical questions. Of course, if you are specializing in teaching pronunciation, accent reduction, or just vocabulary, then you can get by for a while without teaching much grammar. BUT, it is not something you can ignore forever.
Imagine that you have hired a carpenter whom you have heard does very good work. You can see that he is very skilled, and the finished product is really beautiful. But, at one point he says to you, "Please can you pass me that thingy over there, I can never remember whether it's called a hammer or a nail...anyway, please pass that over." You would be a bit shocked right? And the same is true for ESL Teachers. We are fluent in English because we have been speaking it for quite a few years, or since infancy. We are able to demonstrate it to learners of English and help them to speak English quite well. However, if we never learn the correct grammar LABELS for the parts of speech, how English functions, and what the guidelines are, then we are really limiting ourselves as teachers and stunting our growth.
Therefore, we want to really encourage you to think about "diving into" the world of English Grammar. It is not as scary as you think! Just make a plan and don't procrastinate. There are many ways that you can go about improving your knowledge of grammar and the grammar "labels." It is almost like learning another language in itself. One of my favourite things to do is to read the grammar sections of good quality dictionaries - such as COBUILD, Oxford and Websters.
One Saturday afternoon, get yourself a nice coffee and take yourself off to a big used book shop or the local library. Grab a couple of the biggest English dictionaries that you can see, find a comfy chair, and leaf through the grammar sections. They are usually found at the back or the front of the dictionary, or in the appendix. These are very well written and contain the "need-to-know" facts only - very practical. They might not make much sense to you in the beginning. But, as you become more familiar with the terminology used in reference to English grammar, and analyze the examples that are shown, you will start to understand more and more - I can guarantee it! Why not make it a habit to look at these sections regularly until you become well-versed in the "language" of English Grammar?
Another excellent way to improve your knowledge of English grammar and the labels that are used, is to watch good quality YouTube tutorials and take notes. Start with watching videos on the 8 different parts of speech - Adjectives, Adverbs, Conjunctions, Interjections, Nouns, Pronouns, Prepositions, and Verbs. Then, you can familiarize yourself with all the English tenses, and so on. There is no end to what you can learn, especially if you make a plan. Treat yourself to a fancy new notebook and keep track of what you learn. You will be amazed at how much it improves the quality of your classes and your confidence will skyrocket! Improving your skills and increasing your knowledge as a teacher is one of the major keys to success, happiness and longevity as language tutor.
Another excellent way to improve your skills and increase your understanding of English grammar is to take a class and learn in a group. Analyzing English grammar issues and technicalities as a group really opens your mind to what is going on at the sentence level, and when we discuss things together, we see things that we might not have noticed on our own or just watching videos.
We are very happy to announce that, starting February 6, 2022 - we will be offering our "GRAMMAR BOOT CAMP" classes on a weekly basis. The program consists of 10 classes/15 hours of instruction and is taught on the Zoom platform. It will take place every Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time. We will thoroughly cover the 8 different parts of speech: Adjectives, Adverbs, Conjunctions, Interjections, Nouns, Pronouns, Prepositions, and Verbs, in addition to many other aspects of English grammar. You will analyze present and past participles and all their uses, and learn how to use the "First," "Second," and "Third" person correctly. How about the Passive voice? What is the difference between a dynamic or stative verb? What are collective nouns? What's a clause? You will understand all of these things and much more! We will also look at each and every verb tense and focus on the FUNCTION of all the "ingredients" used to speak and write English and how they are labeled. By the time you finish the program, you will be extremely well-versed in all the Grammar expressions that you need to understand to be a competent English tutor.
We also keep it fun!
The size of the class will be limited, so if you are interested in enrolling in all 10 classes, (you receive 2 classes for free when you sign up for all 10 classes at once) please do so as soon as possible.
Classes start on Sunday, February 27, 2022.
We have lots of other exciting things planned for 2022, so keep an eye out for our next blog/newsletter. Also, please feel free to share this information with others. We are a small, family-owned business and do not have a big advertising budget - so we really appreciate it when you help us to spread the word. Thank you so much.
Until next time!
Jordan and Ruth Stackhouse
Lexica Training Institute