Teaching grammar in the modern classroom should always be adapted to the target group, structured, communicative and organised in a sequence of learning stages (see Ziegésar&Ziegésar, 1992, and Hass 2019). Grammar-oriented teaching scenarios allow for an acquisition-oriented language learning process, including foreign language skills. The target-oriented structure of learning stages is modeled upon native language acquisition. Thus, it is thus better accessible to pupils and corresponds to the so-called inductive approach (from phenomenon to rule).
As demonstrated in the grammar unit on the simple past, teaching grammar can be conceived as a sequence of learning stages, from intuitive perception to automatized language production.
- In the first step, the learners read a grammatical structure in a foreign language context that is as authentic as possible (perception stage – noticing), for example through a text, a film or an anecdote by the English teacher. This stage invites the learners to apply a grammar structure more or less consciously (comprehending and reacting).
- In the following stage the students achieve a basic awareness of the underlying rule (cognitivisation I – structuring) by conscious or unconscious use of the structure.
- In the next step, a greater depth of cognitive processing can be reached (cognitivation II – structuring/contrasting) by contrasting the grammatical structure with the mother tongue or by visualization, memorization and formulating rules (cf. Kieweg, 2012, Grammar Cards).
- Finally, two exercise phases follow: Exercise phase 1 is based on task types (from closed to open) under the guidance and linguistic correction of the teacher (language use – monitoring). The following exercise phase II involves greater student autonomy and uses the new form in progressively complex application contexts (automation – mastering).
The Flipped Classroom method (also known as Inverted Classroom) is based on an outsourcing of various teaching phases to an extra-curricular environment. The students acquire various contents independently, which are made available by the teachers in a prepared and didactic form. Digital media, films, teaching/learning videos, podcasts or worksheets are often used. In a subsequent classroom session, the contents produced individually are deepened, completed, questioned and, if necessary, corrected together with the teacher.
Teaching grammar in the digital Flipped Classroom
If a modern method of teaching grammar is combined with the Flipped Classroom Method and digitized teaching, there are opportunities to acquire (almost completely) new grammar structures outside the foreign language classroom, too, e.g. at home. There, the quality and selection of the material used (input video, learning video, worksheets, etc.) is particlularly decisive. On the one hand, it should be comprehensible and accessible for students, and on the other hand it should be designed in a way that supports learning, so it is productive and progressive.
The downloadable worksheet presents a possible flipped-classroom grammar scenario for digital distance learning is demonstrated, introducing the simple past in class 5 or 6.1The first step is to watch a short video from the British Council (“LearnEnglishTeens”) and focus on the past events of Alfie’s driving test (stage of first perception). These are first arranged chronologically to make the students aware of the sequence of past events. 2In the second step the focus is already on the first application of the new forms (simple past regular verbs). The students recognize from the video and the short story “A great day for Spiderman” that the verb forms need the ending -ed and work on some closed to open tasks (comprehending and reacting). 3 Step 3 is a first stage of cognitivisation through a small exercise on how to form the past tense. 4In stage (cognitivisation II) the structured presentation of the new form with the help of a grammar card (see Kieweg, 2012) is used. The learners fill this exercise out with the new information they have gained so far and increasingly supplement it with further examples. 5This is followed by several online-supported exercise phases. These are particularly necessary for distance learning scenarios, but can also be replaced by practice phases in regular classrooms. In the first exercise phase the students use different closed and semi-open task formats and apply the new regular simple past forms in different contexts, examples and in connection with different signal words. There are compulsory exercises and supplementary exercises with solutions. The tasks are arranged in an increasingly complex and progressive way (language use).
Particularly in distance learning, direct error feedback is important in the practice phase of grammar acquisition and ensures safety and routine for the learners. The second phase of practice includes the selection of three more complex tasks in which the new forms are applied (automation). These may be difficult because of the regular verb forms that have been used so far. However, the students can first use the regular verb forms they already know from the previous tasks.
Small speech bubbles on the worksheet (steps 2, 4, 8) mark possible ways of contacting the English teacher. In the real classroom, this can be done directly. Options in distance learning are email, video telephony or video conference, a learning platform or other digital learning environments. In this way, the required feedback and communication between students and teacher also takes place. By means of short video conferences, submitted short films or MP3 files, the new forms can also be tested in oral communication and personal interaction with the teacher.
Literature: Haß, Frank, Hrsg. (2019): Fachdidaktik Englisch. Tradition – Innovation – Praxis. Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Sprachen; Kieweg, Werner (2012): Grammatik visualisieren – Bildimpulse zur Konsolidierung grammatischer Kompetenzen im Englischunterricht. Seelze: Friedrich; Ziegésar D., Ziegésar M. (1992): Einführung von Grammatik im Englischunterricht. Materialien und Modelle. Oldenbourg Schulbuchverlag
Links to education videos and to online language exericises are provided on the worksheet worksheet.