It’s not just about the grammar!

July 17, 2009

David Nunan thinks so…Scott Thornbury too, oh, and let’s not forget Michael Lewis. Indeed, just about every contemporary ELT theorist / writer out there stresses (and has stressed for the last 30 years!) that becoming competent in a second language is more than just about learning grammar. Unfortunately the ones who really need to understand this point, our students, are the ones who need the most convincing. Over the years, on countless occasions, students have demanded more grammar in class, begged for an explanation of the rules and uses of rare tenses and antiquated forms, and, perhaps most amusingly, demanded that less time be spent having fun and that we do more exercises from Murphy and Azar. And we’ve all heard teachers being criticised for not know all the grammar rules!

Anyway, those students clearly haven’t spent enough time watching Jackie Chan who, on a recent appearance on Graham Norton’s show, was able to tell an absolutely hilarious story despite making more grammatical errors than I can possibly count. Let the video load and then watch from 5.30 for the bit that I’m talking about.

It just goes to show that communicative competence is just that…the ability to communicate!

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Free English Courses

July 15, 2009

I came across a blog post today of 20 Free English Language and Literature Courses. Click here.

Now, in my honest opinion, most of the general courses seem a bit too grammar focused (see my comment above for more on that) but you may find something useful to help practice. Furthermore, the pronunciation link doesn’t work while the listening files on the American English Audio Course were, in fact, inaudible – it sounds like an American woman is talking to a washing machine.

Anyway, here are 2 (of the 20) that I think are worth checking out if you want to improve your grammar:

Grammar Workshop This is from about.com so it’s a safe site. You register and they send you grammar practice materials each week.

1-language.com Grammar exercises for intermediate and advanced level students here.

Here something that I posted ages ago on another website for students about practising English for free:

There are literally thousands of websites for learners of English. Here is a short list of ones that we like:

Word Power www.word-power.us is a website that describes itself as “a free survival guide for all who would like to perfect their spoken English language.” In the Business Word Power and you will find definitions, recordings and exercises with which you can practise business vocabulary. Many of the themes such as meetings, telephoning and socialising relate to work we do in class. And, there is also a section on football vocabulary!

Yappr – A free website which helps you learn English through videos. Highly recommended!

The British Council’s website: http://www.learnenglish.org.uk/

And this is what the BBC has to offer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/

Is this the future? Practise your English online with a native speaker for free! (after you’ve downloaded Skype): http://www.speak-english-today.com/

Would you believe it? Free books online: http://www.gutenberg.org/

The Business podcast, from Macmillan, is a monthly interview focusing on working life in the UK. The Podcast offers authentic listening practice for you: http://www.businessenglishonline.net/TheBusiness/podcasts.htm