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Contextual Grammar Teaching – Activities for Making Grammar Meaningful to Your Students

How do we develop a learning environment where the grammar is learned through exploration without burnout? Keep reading for example activities of thematic contextual grammar activities that develop the four language skills simultaneously.

What is contextualized grammar instruction?

The eternal debate of teaching grammar implicitly or explicitly will probably never cease. This debate created the need for further research, and now almost all researchers agree that grammar should not be taught explicitly. (Goode, 2000; Sams, 2003;). The rationale for teaching grammar in such a way is the early language acquisition – children learn their native language through an authentic context, and they can speak it perfectly without anyone explaining what is present simple or past simple. So how can we use this to contextualize grammar instruction? We can start by forgetting frontal teaching and drilling, and use authentic language in books, films, newspapers, and even songs. 

Why should we avoid explicit grammar teaching?

Traditional grammar instruction requires the memorization of grammar rules and terminology, along with drills and labeling of sentence parts in various textbooks. Even older dated research has proven that this method has little or no effect on improving student’s writing and language skills in general. (Meyer, 1986; Seliger, 1979).

How is grammar contextualized?

Exploration instead of explanation is a great starting point for all teachers who are struggling to develop a contextually based approach to grammar. Your lesson planning process may experience ups and downs, but ultimately, the positive results will outnumber the negative ones.

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Visit the page on British Council Teaching English to read about three simple steps to develop an exploratory grammar lesson.

Contextual Grammar Teaching – Activities for Making Grammar Meaningful to Your Students

How do you contextualize grammar in your classroom? Let me know in the comments or via the Contact page.

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Alice is a 27 years old preschool teacher (Pre-K) with a B.Ed. She is currently enrolled in her Master studies, with a double major, one of them being English teaching methodology. She is also an online ESL teacher and blog writer for British Council. Last but not least, she is a mother of a very energetic toddler.


  • John

    The concept sounds great, but it seems as too much effort is needed.
    Is there any way to simply contextualize grammar, without having to plan so much prior to the lesson?

    • Alice Glass

      I agree with you – it can take up a lot of time when you are just starting out.
      The best thing to do is to first make a diagnostic test – that way you will know what are the learning gaps of your students.
      When you know this, you can easily go back to the results, use any article and after reading and discussion turn to grammar exploration.

      This approach doesn’t require literally any planning. 🙂

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