Home > Classroom Management > The course, she is good but maybe more grammar!

The course, she is good but maybe more grammar!

As I read this feedback comment earlier today, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Masimo was a lovely guy and everyone liked him but boy, did he love that grammar.

It’s not like he didn’t get any either. Future in the past, mixed up conditionals, perfect, past all sorts.

But, by the end of his three week stay, his speech was as slow, laboured and irritating as  when he arrived.

He learnt lots of grammar but couldn’t use it. He couldn’t express himself using the language he arrived with, so why did he want more?

His excellent trainer pointed this out to him but he didn’t listen and after being fed grammar for 3 weeks, still felt he hadn’t had enough.

So, lessons to draw from this?

1 Some learners are bonkers.

2 Language in context is not always as important to our learners as it is to us.

3 Ideas about the best way to learn differ greatly throughout the world.

I’m told grammar fetishism is an Italian trait and there’s not much to be done. Italians of a certain age won’t accept communicative approaches so don’t even try.

I understand where this comes from but I can’t agree. We have here a classic example of needs vs wants. He wanted grammar but needed vocabulary and fluency. How does the future in the past help him do his job better? It doesn’t.

I worry that the language he forced his trainer to teach him hasn’t helped him to use English at all. I also worry that he’s already forgotten it all.

I should have forced the point, talked to him and made him see that being able to talk is far more important than collecting grammar points.

But I know I would have failed, some learners just love Grammar McNuggets.

  1. Candy van Olst
    June 3, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Oh you are so right! I had a class once of mostly German blokes. They were very fluent and confident with a couple of typical German issues (“make”, “do” and double modals “don’t can”). I envisaged a fabulous week of critical thinking exercises, pratting about with phrasal verbs, playing with shifting stress, introducing some cool rhetorical devices for presentations, like tripling and emphasis. But no – what this lot wanted was……ta-da! THE TENSES – in a nice little graphic, with a definition and example of each, migrating gently to THE CONDITIONALS. Sigh……

    • June 3, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Candy, it’s like you’re describing my week, except the blokes were Russian.

      But, give them what they want and they book again, right?

      Won’t be able to look myself in the mirror now I’ve said that.

      Thanks for your comment and I look forward to your next post.

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