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Teaching English Syntax


Penaber
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Hi everybody,

I teach English in a high school. In our country, students start learning English from 2nd grade until graduation from university. Namely, my current students have been learning English for ten years. That means approximately 1260 hours of learning English. I think you can guess what I am going to say. Yes, they still have problems in a considerable number of subjects. To relate the post with the topic, I should say that one of their major and most frequent problems is to build a grammatical sentence. They have problems when we sometimes make slighest changes in sentences. They misuse subject, sometimes predicate, adverbial phrase etc. There are some reasons that are beyond our control such as the syntactic differences between NL and TL. Shortly, my aim of creating this topic is to get some ideas on how to teach my students more effectively to build a grammatical sentence. Does anyone have any different ideas? How to teach students to learn the order of parts of speech? Is there any level obstacle for teaching the parts of speech? What parts should be introduced to which grade? What is the standard order of parts of speech? (all parts together). Thanks for reading the post:)

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Maybe i am wrong, but i think it depends on the NL of your students too.... For example i am Italian and the english grammatic is very similar to the one of my language, in fact i think that study english for a Japanese is more difficult than for me....for example, "I am Mameha" is "Io sono Mameha", that is the same, just with different words, so when i have to build a phrase i just have to translate the words. In japanese it's "Watashi wa Mameha desu" that is completely different (the verb for example is in the end of the phrase). 

So to build a phrase one need to understand how an English phrase works (differently from the NL)

This is what i think, maybe i am wrong but i wanted to confront my opinion :)

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That's a very good question, Penaber. I've seen a lot of people struggling with word order. I am one of those actually - German and Dutch are a nightmare for me. I believe the only thing that really helps is a lot of practice. That's what I do whenever I have tutoring tasks - I subject my poor victims to a huge amount of grammar exercises, starting from the simplest ones. Round Up books are great for that purpose - it's pure grammar with a lot of repetitions of the same but presented in a lively manner and with some humorous examples. Murphy is also not too bad, although personally I'm more in favour of Round Up :) After the students get a hang of a certain grammar point, they have to endure yet more exercises with constant repetitions, this time oral ones. Tough but quite efficient!

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I'm not sure if this is helpful or not.  When I was in high school, my teachers would single out the students who were having a hard time with a certain part of the curriculum and also single out the ones who did very well. They would pair them up.  I, myself, was a tutor.  What I did was contrast.  I would show how the language was set up in our native language and show the difference in the target language.  It was hardest with the Spanish students because of how different the syntax was.  I think it's worse for English because of how many different ways there are to write one sentence.  Maybe you can do that.  Write a sentence in your native language and then write all the different examples of how it can be written in English.  Do that with at least five sentences.  Then you explain the differences in the examples, like formal and informal.  Also write different mistakes that have been made and explain the mistakes.  Sometimes learning why something is wrong is more helpful than learning the right way to do it. 

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thanks for your answers. in our education curriculum, there is no such a subject but I feel that it is necessary for them to learn how to build a grammatical sentence. I do it as extra curriculum. so that is quite tiring. I hope that will be useful at the end. a few months later, I m goimng to check this with a short dtory writing or a NL-TL translation. until that time, I am open to new ideas. actually I am always so:)

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