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Old 12-16-2008, 01:00 AM
felicia felicia is offline
 
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Default Discouraged from teaching grammar

Hi. I'm an experienced ESL teacher (taught in college for quite a while) who has only been teaching in high school in NYC for 6 years. I am in the most unbelievable situation. In my school (small learning community) they encourage the "Inquiry Based Approach". My supervisor told me (as well as HER coach) don't teach grammar (except in context). If she comes in and sees me teaching too many grammar lessons in a row, I'm in trouble. I have 3 different levels - Level 1 & 5 (out of 10) where I HAVE to do alot of grammar and Level 9 which is for students ready to graduate. I discovered that the Level 9's writing was horrendous, so I decided to spend alot of time on format for persuasive essays. Well, I got "caught" teaching result clauses so now I'm in big trouble. Can you believe this?????? My director's comment was that it wasn't rigorous enough, and I spent the whole period on it. If they don't know it, it's rigorous. The problem is that my supervisor/director was a social studies teacher and she doesn't know a thing about ESL. Alll she wants me to do is make sure the kids are using inquiry in everything they do. Does anyone else have a situation like this? I hope not, This is INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 12-16-2008, 06:50 PM
Betty Azar's Avatar
Betty Azar Betty Azar is offline
 
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Default Discouraged from teaching grammar

Dear Felicia,

Ideologically rigid supervisors interfere with effective teaching. I'm sorry you're stuck with such a supervisor. Early in my career, I, too, was caught teaching grammar and called on the carpet. My supervisor told me I was ruining the students' whole language learning program by not following exactly what was in the audiolingual textbook. He was wrong, and the students knew it. It's an uncomfortable bind for teachers, who need flexibility to teach as they perceive best for their students.

What I learned from my experience with a doctrinaire supervisor was to distrust those who believed they had the answers to how to teach language. There is not just one right way. And direct grammar teaching, in study after study, has been shown to be not only effective but necessary to a well-balanced program of instruction. It's hard to get past people's prejudices against it, however.

Anyway, you're not alone! But it can be very frustrating.

Good luck!
Betty Azar
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  #3  
Old 12-17-2008, 02:11 AM
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Grammar Guy Grammar Guy is offline
 
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Default More than One Way to Skin a Cat

Hi, Felicia.

As Betty has said, you're not alone! Many of us have been in the same boat. I do think there are ways to incorporate the inquiry-based approach into your teaching of grammar. In fact, I see lots of similarities to it and to the Natural Approach, which has really never gone out of style.

If I may suggest, choose a content area that your students are studying. It might be a good idea to get together with the teacher who's working on that content area with them. See if the teacher will let you plan out a lesson or two based on that content area in which you see it will be relatively easy to naturally introduce or practice a certain grammatical point that you'd like your students to internalize. Plan the lesson(s) in a way so that you'll elicit questions from your students. If possible, the targeted grammar point should be used in their questions and in your answers. If your class can handle it, see if some students can answer their classmates' questions using the targeted grammar point.

You mentioned teaching result clauses for persuasive essays. I bet you can figure out which other class or classes they're taking that contain material which would fit the bill very nicely for dealing with result clauses. They can verbalize these clauses first during your lesson, and then they can transfer what they've said and heard concerning persuasion and those result clauses into written form to start the composition process.

Give it a try, Felicia, and please let us know how it works out. And remember that you're never alone! All of us here on Teacher Talk are your kindred spirits. Good luck!
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Old 12-17-2008, 03:34 PM
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Maria Maria is offline
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Default discovery=inquiry?

I'm sorry you are so frustrated in your work, Felicia! I have a question: You said that you are only supposed to addresss grammar in context. Well, where is the context coming from? Do you get to create your own context as you like, or do you have to use something prescribed?

Also, I was wondering if discovery-based learning is similar to inquiry-based learning? I poked around on line a little with "inquiry-based" and it seems to me that it might be the same as discovery-based- a Socratic approach that lets students connect the dots (with or without teacher guidance) until they can draw their own conclusions. Is this how it is interpreted at your school?

This is a link to an earlier discussion on this list about discovery-based teaching which you might find interesting: http://azargrammar.com/teacherTalk/f...hread.php?t=30

And I also found this nice article about inductive and deductive learning which you may be able to use to help explain grammar instruction to your supervisor. It states the advantages of both, but also goes on to show that there are some things that just don't lend themselves well to self-discovery.
http://knol.google.com/k/micha-b-par...vzotrrhys1/23#
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Old 12-17-2008, 07:14 PM
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Betty Azar Betty Azar is offline
 
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Default A vote for eclecticism

The article Maria linked us to, "Deductive vs. Inductive Learning" by Michał B. Paradowski, is excellent. He concludes that "the most profitable strategy may be an eclectic one" that combines both methods and says that students do best when "the teacher varies the approach in order to accommodate all learning styles."

I couldn't agree more. In my experience, there is a constant intermingling of deductive and inductive in good grammar-based teaching, a back-and-forth flow between the two.

Discovery and direct explanation both have important roles to play in language learning. Requiring teachers to stick dogmatically to just one approach unnecessarily limits teaching paths and learning opportunities.

You might like to look at Rose Senior's informative research discoveries about experienced teachers' preferences for "pedagogic eclecticism." Here's a link for a quick review I wrote of her book:
http://www.azargrammar.com/assets/au...-BN_Senior.pdf

I'm glad you wrote in, Felicia. The Grammar Guy gave some really good advice, as did Maria. It's great to hear from both of them! I hope you find this helpful as you figure out how to integrate grammar teaching into your classes in the face of your supervisor's probably ill-informed directives.

Betty Azar
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  #6  
Old 01-09-2009, 03:37 AM
felicia felicia is offline
 
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Default

Thank you so much for your responses. I appreciate your support. It means alot to me to hear from professionals in my field. I agree that the best approach is an eclectic one. It is hard working with people who are so narrow minded, but I am trying my best. Thanks again for your good suggestions.

felicia
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  #7  
Old 01-10-2009, 07:52 PM
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Maria Maria is offline
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Wink You gotta fight for your right.....

..............to teach grammar!

You're welcome, Felicia. Let us know of any new developments!
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  #8  
Old 01-19-2009, 08:41 AM
Hassan Ahmed Hassan Ahmed is offline
 
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Default Discouraged from teaching grammar

In fact , I can't understand those who say don't teach grammar because we don't teach grammar for the sake of grammar . We teach grammar to help students use the language correctly and this is the ultimat goal for any language instruction.But, we have alot of techniques that we can use to teach grammar , so it a good idea to choose these that cope with our school approach.Also, I think that teachers shouldn't be told how to teach if they are well trained . Supervisors should know that not all theories are applicable in the classrooms.I think that's why we should stress action research. Finally, I hope that you have enough courage to fight for you opinion.
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Old 01-19-2009, 07:39 PM
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Maria Maria is offline
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Default Discouraged from teaching grammar

I agree with you statement, Hassan, that "supervisors should know that not all theories are applicable in the classroom." But unfortunately, many do not know that.

Think about how many teachers around the world are supervised by an "administrator" or a business owner who doesn't know about teaching? When a school is a business first, run by a business person and not a teacher, there can be conflicts between the three parties involved: the teachers, the administrators, and the students.

In fact, in my college at this time, there is a plan underway to replace our Department Chairs, who are faculty, with adminstrators who do not need teaching experience. What a disaster that will be! Have you heard the expression "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing?" I think that was invented to describe an adminstrator with no teaching background who has just attended his or her first educational conference! (Then they return to the school armed with "a little knowledge" and proceed to tell the teachers everything that they are doing wrong.)

As teachers, we are the experts. I don't mean we know everything about teaching, but we do have more insight to what works with our students than a lot of our supervisors do. Even if our supervisors have been teachers, they are not teachers of our current students and thus may not be sensitive to the needs of a particular class at a particular time.
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  #10  
Old 01-20-2009, 08:33 AM
Hassan Ahmed Hassan Ahmed is offline
 
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Thumbs up Discouraged from teaching grammar

Dear Maria ,
A thank you should go to you since you showed your agreement with me , but I think all of us know the problem now and we should ask ourselves what the solutions are.Also, I think that the American pragmatism is one of the main causes for this problem .

It is the fatal mistake to say that business comes first and before any thing else because this way we are losing our huminity for money and we show our preparation to do any thing for it .

Actually , if we want to declare this , people may think that we are lagging them hundreds of years since many people have the thought that the more money you earn , the more successful you are . This is a starnge world , isn't it?
I am eager to get your response .
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