Sep 12, 2012
Practical learning tools and group activities can go a long way in helping students grasp the basics of English grammar in the classroom, suggests Radha Prathi
Teaching parts of speech effectively is not an easy task. It can prove to be a tedious exercise and sometimes, futile. Though parts of speech are taught to children from the primary level onward, many never seem to grasp the nuances of words with reference to them even after they have graduated from college. Nevertheless, this lacking can be set right if the finer points of the subject can be reiterated at different levels through fun and games in the classroom.
Here are a few ideas which have been tested and proven sound with children of different age groups by yours truly.
All one needs is a willing teacher and enthusiastic students. They could be divided into groups of two or three. Any one person in the group could take the responsibility of becoming the leader for the team.
Once the teacher explains the rules and definitions of grammar, the students could work in groups while playing these games. Each group should be given a sheet of paper in which they can write out their answers. Each round will last only three minutes, during which time they can discuss softly (so that the other groups do not eavesdrop on them) and pool in their answers and build a score for the team.
Once the instructions are understood, the teacher could reel out the specifics of each round. For instance, they can be asked to write as many words as possible beginning with a certain letter by following certain conditions. One such condition could be to stay away from writing down proper nouns. This clause will ensure they understand the definition of a proper noun because they will be careful about excluding them. There have been instances when someone will wonder if the word ‘tiger’ (some of them may have canine pets named Tiger) would qualify for a point, a giggle from someone will make them unsure and will motivate them to clear their cobwebs about nouns at a later point of time.
The condition for the second round could be to write as many five-letter words as possible beginning with a certain letter but without using plural or past tense forms of the word to make them five-lettered. This round will make them realise the role of number and tense in a roundabout manner.
In the next round, they could be asked to write the present forms of verbs and write as many different forms of the same word. For instance, with the word ‘form’, variations of it such as formed, forming, formation, formative will qualify for points.
Aspects like conversion of one form to another will sensitise them to parts of speech. For this round, the teacher could allot about ten minutes and ask the students to identify as many verbs as possible from a lesson or an article in the newspaper and ask them to write down the noun and adjective form of the selected verb. If they are able to come up with adverbial forms and more than one form of the requisite part of speech, then they stand to gain as many points for the right answers.
Similarly, a learner can be sensitised to the use of prepositions by having him/her identify them in a given passage and single out the prepositions.
Students could be introduced to the world of prefixes and suffixes with the teacher helping them to form words, antonyms. The teacher should also explain how the gender and number of nouns may vary with some of these affixes. Aspects like comparison of adjectives, the use of adverbs could follow suit.
Answer sheets are best evaluated by the peer groups. This will make members of other groups realise what they have missed out on. It must be made clear that each right answer will merit one point, whereas repetitions and spelling errors will merit a zero. The grand total of each day’s activities could be documented by the teacher.
Teachers could improvise on the conditions based on their requirement and make them more stringent if the pupils are competent. These conditions will educate students on the different aspects of grammar and terms without taxing them with definitions. If the activity is a continuous affair, maintaining scores and rewarding the winning team will motivate students to look up the dictionary and grammar texts for explanations. This method will make students adept at understanding the characteristics of grammar and syntax. A student’s ability to spell right will also improve.
These are but a few ideas to help a student understand and appreciate the world of words. If an ardent learner and a passionate teacher of English spend half-an-hour together on these exercises, once a week, one can be sure of better English skills because learning through fun and games can be an indelible experience.