has often been regarded as a structure based, formal activity. After the
integration of several sources and techniques, which are mainly based on communicative
activities, the teaching of grammar gained a new insight. In the teaching of
grammar, technique-resource combinations are often modified to
structure-discourse match and if well developed, they can be used effectively
for all phases of a grammar lesson. In order to make a grammar lesson
effective, beneficial, and interesting a teacher should use some well-developed
and fascinating techniques in the classroom.
Since the meaning
is an important device in teaching grammar, it is important to contextualize
any grammar point. Songs are one of the most enchanting and culturally rich
resources that can easily be used in language classrooms. Songs offer a change
from routine classroom activities. They are precious resources to develop students’
abilities in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They can also be used
to teach a variety of language items such as sentence patterns, vocabulary,
pronunciation, rhythm, adjectives, and adverbs. Songs also give new insights
into the target culture. They are the means through which cultural themes are
presented effectively. Since they provide authentic texts, they are motivating.
Prosodic features of the language such as stress, rhythm, intonation are
presented through songs, thus through using them the language which is cut up
into a series of structural points becomes a whole again. There are many
advantages of using songs in the classroom. Through using contemporary popular
songs, which are already familiar to teenagers, the teacher can meet the
challenges of the teenage needs in the classroom. Since songs are highly
memorable and motivating, in many forms they may constitute a powerful
subculture with their own rituals. In consequence, if selected properly and
adopted carefully, a teacher should benefit from songs in all phases of
teaching grammar. Songs may both be used for the presentation or the practice
phase of the grammar lesson. They may encourage extensive and intensive
listening, and inspire creativity and use of imagination in a relaxed classroom
atmosphere. While selecting a song the teacher should take the age, interests
of the learners and the language being used in the song into consideration. To
enhance learner commitment, it is also beneficial to allow learners to take
part in the selection of the songs.
There are various
ways of using songs in the classroom. The level of the students, the interests
and the age of the learners, the grammar point to be studied, and the song itself
have determinant roles on the procedure. Apart from them, it mainly depends on
the creativity of the teacher.
students, the best songs would be those that are either familiar to the
children or those, though maybe not familiar, which have an international
nature. Since there is not a strict teaching procedure, the teacher can mainly
concentrate on what to teach rather than on how to teach. For instance, while
teaching them individual letter sounds or spelling the words, the traditional
camp song 'Bingo' will be useful. In order to make the songs more meaningful
and more enjoyable, motions can be added to the song which parallel the words
of the song. Since most children enjoy singing fun and nonsensical lyrics,
using easy children songs will be useful. Furthermore, choosing lively action
songs through which they can dance or act while singing will ensure a lively
For teenagers or
adults in the intermediate or advanced level, it is better to use more
meaningful or popular songs, which not only review or introduce grammar points
but also reflect cultural aspects. At the primary level of singing the song,
the prosodic features of the language is emphasized. At the higher levels,
where the practice of grammar points is at the foreground, songs can be used
with several techniques.
selection of a technique or a set of techniques should be based on his or her
objectives for the classroom. After deciding the grammar point to be studied,
and the song and the techniques to be used, the teacher should prepare an
effective lesson plan. Since songs are listening activities, it is advisable to
present them as a listening lesson, but of course, it is necessary to integrate
all the skills in the process in order to achieve successful teaching.
When regarding a
lesson plan, as a pre-listening activity, the theme, the title, or the history
of the song can be discussed. By directing the students toward specific areas,
problem vocabulary items can be picked up in advance. Before listening to the
song, it is also beneficial to let the students know which grammar points
should be studied. At this stage, pictures may also be used to introduce the
theme of the song. In the listening stage, some of the techniques listed above
can be used, but among them gap filling is the most widely used technique.
Through such gaps, the vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation are highlighted.
This stage can be developed by the teacher according to the needs of the students
and the grammar point to be studied.
In the follow-up,
integrated skills can be used to complete the overall course structure. Since
many songs are on themes for which it is easy to find related reading texts, it
may lead the learner to read a text about the singer or the theme. Besides,
many songs give a chance for a written reaction of some kind. Opinion questions
may lead the learner to write about his own thoughts or reflections. Some songs
deal with a theme that can be re-exploited through role plays. Acting may add
enthusiasm to the learning process. Finally, some songs deal with themes, which
can lead to guided discussion. By leading the students into a discussion, the
grammar point could be practiced orally and, in a way, naturally.
As a consequence,
the use of songs in language classrooms provides many advantages. They
entertain and relax the learners while they are learning or practicing a structure,
and they often eliminate the students negative attitude towards learning.
Through providing authenticity and context, they make the grammar points more
understandable and easy. As language teachers, we can benefit from using songs,
since our concern is to motivate the students and draw their utmost attention
on the subject during teaching.
Poems, like songs,
contextualize a grammar lesson effectively. Since poetry is often spoken,
repeated, dealt with, and considered, it acts as an effective tool for
practicing a specific grammatical structure. Through repeating and considering
the poem, the grammatical structures become more deeply internalized. Thus,
poetry not only provides a rewarding resource for structured practice of
grammar, but also a proper basis for review. If a poem that exemplifies a
particular structure is also a good poem, it engages the eye, the ear and the
tongue simultaneously while also stimulating and moving us; this polymorphic
effect makes poetry easier to memorize than other things for many students .
Like songs, poems
exaggerate the rhythmic nature of the language. Thus it is an important aspect
to be taught, since English is a syllable timed language with stressed syllables
being spoken at roughly equal time pauses, even in everyday speech. Similar to
songs, poems have an enormous linguistic value as they provide authenticity and
cultural views. A poem's capacity to comfort the reader or the listener also
increases its effectiveness as a teaching resource. Once a poem or song has
been learned, they stay in the minds of the students for the rest of their
lives, with all the rhythms, grammatical features and vocabulary.
Poems may bring
the use of creativity and the rhythm into the language classroom, though they
may also bring some difficulties. Poems are not constructed in a simple way and
syntactically they are at a higher level than prose, thus it might be very
difficult for a foreign language learner to comprehend them completely. Linguistic
difficulties are the problems caused by the syntax or the lexicon of the poem.
Cultural difficulties include imagery, tone, and allusion. At the intellectual
level, the students should be intellectual and mature enough to understand the
theme of the poem. These difficulties could be easily removed if the teacher
provides a poem which is syntactically and thematically appropriate to the
level, age and the interests of the students. Thus, by removing or minimizing
the potential problems, poetry can provide an enormously rich, enjoyable and
authentic context for foreign language learners.
In the selection
of a poem, the teacher should first consider the grammatical structure to be
presented, practiced, or reviewed, then the level and the age of the students,
next the theme and the length of the poem and its appropriateness to the
classroom objectives. Poems, which reflect cultural themes, universal features,
humanistic values, or emotional aspects, will be more relevant to the foreign
language learners. Finally, through taking the classroom objectives into
consideration, a teacher should effectively benefit from poems as teaching
At the teaching
stage of a poem, it is not advisable to talk about the meaning of the poem in
advance. Since they offer a reading and listening activity, poems could be presented
through a reading plan. At the pre-reading stage, students might be motivated
through some enthusiastic talks about poetry or the poet. Some necessary
vocabulary can also be handled at this stage. At the reading stage, in order to
create images and stress the prosodic features, the teacher may want the
students to close their eyes while he/she is reading the poem. After the poem
has been read at least twice, it is better to elicit the primary responses of
the students about the poem. Next, after distributing the poem to students,
students may be asked to read it either loudly or silently. In order to
practice the determined grammar point, students may be asked to paraphrase the
poem. Through transforming the verse into prose students get acquainted with
After easing the
grammar and understanding the vocabulary, students get an idea about the theme
of the poem. Reading the paraphrased poem reinforces the grammatical structure
under consideration. Asking questions about context may follow the reading.
Through asking Wh- questions, providing additional information about the
culture, and asking students to share their experience with the subject matter,
the cultural content of the poem becomes more real and vivid. Words, pictures,
and shared experiences can eliminate the gap that is created by different
cultures, as no one can deny that poems cannot always evoke the same sounds,
sights, smells, and associations for both native speakers and foreign language
learners. After discussing the surface content of the poem, students may again
asked to close their eyes and visualize the poem while listening to it. As a
follow-up activity a discussion may be held. After reviewing the plot of the
poem and providing adequate artful questions, the students will eventually
discover the deeper meaning of the poem. As being a facilitator, a teacher
should always avoid telling the meaning. After each student grasps his or her
own meaning, it is proper to discuss the depth of the poem. In this procedure,
the teacher's aim is to support the students in their attempts to understand
the poem and make it relevant to their lives. Once they have understood it and
perceived its relevance, they will have no objection to practicing the poem or
even memorizing it, for it will have become special for them. At the follow-up
stage, providing the determined structure, students may also be asked to write
a poem about anything they want. In such a procedure the four skills are
effectively integrated to practice or present any grammar point.
Using Games and Problem-Solving Activities
The latest concern
of the foreign language teachers is to make the students use the language
communicatively. After the realization of communicative competence , activities
or techniques that are task-oriented and that lead students to use the language
creatively have gained importance. Games and problem-solving activities, which
are task-based and have a purpose beyond the production of correct speech, are
the examples of the most preferable communicative activities. Such activities
highlight not only the competence but also the performance of the learner. Yet
they are the indispensable parts of a grammar lesson, since they reinforce a form-discourse
match. In such activities the attention is on the discourse context. Both games
and problem-solving activities have a goal. Games are organized according to
rules, and they are enjoyable. Most games require choral responses or group
works, whereas problem-solving activities (though they are structured) require
individual response and creative solutions. Games and problem-solving
activities are generally used after the presentation, in the practice part,
because such communicative tasks can only be handled after mastering sufficient
grammar and lexical points.
well-planned games, learners can practice and internalize vocabulary, grammar
and structures extensively. Play and competition that are provided by games enhance
the motivation of the students. They also reduce the stress in the classroom.
While playing games, the learners attention is on the message, not on the
language. In a way, students acquire language unconsciously since their whole
attention is engaged by the activity. By providing personal, social, and
cross-cultural issues to define, they sometimes simulate real life situations.
Many grammar games can be found in teaching grammar or course books.
There is a great
overlap between games and problem solving activities. Though games generally
place an emphasis on competition and wining, they also require some type of
problem-solving activity. Like games, problem-solving activities have
communicative purposes. Questions which require students to use available
evidence to reach a conclusion and the logic problems which assist language
learning by challenging students to demonstrate their understanding of English
in an interesting way are the types of problem-solving activities. In problem
solving activities, the problems are either based on real or imaginary
situations. In the activities students are given a real or an imagery
situation, and they are expected to find solutions for the problems.
Games and problem
solving activities can be used for all levels. By regarding the proficiency,
age and experience of the learners, appropriate activities might be applied
successfully. It is also important to design clear and easy directions for the
games or the activities. Through problem solving activities students utmost
attention is to the detail and to the meaning. The solution part of the problem
can be used to generate any specific grammar point. In such activities, a
teacher should act as a facilitator rather than a director. It is also possible
to integrate all skills in such activities. Reading or listening to a
situation, a problem, or a question; responding or commenting either through
speaking or writing. It is also advisable to keep in mind that such activities
provide entertaining opportunities to practice thinking clearly while focusing
on the form unconsciously.
In sum, games and
problem solving activities provide favorable usages for extended communicative
practice of grammar. They are both motivating and challenging. They encourage
students to interact and communicate. Through such activities students match
the discourse with the context of the game or the problem solving activity. So
these activities create a meaningful context for language use. The use of such
activities both increases the cooperation and competition in the classroom.
Thus, potential classroom ideas come into being, and a successful, joyful and
enthusiastic learning is provided. The usage of songs, poems, games, and
problem solving activities are clarified. The advantages and some key points
are explained. It is now more apparent that the teaching of grammar can be
supported effectively by using such resources. According to the needs analysis
of a classroom, several techniques can be integrated with such resources. Since
teaching is a developing art, which requires innovative and creative ideas to
enrich its effectiveness, we must not hesitate to use such resources in our
classrooms. These resources can assist our teaching of grammar while providing
a relaxed atmosphere and motivated students. Such activities are student
centered, hence, by using them we give a chance to our students to express themselves,
enjoy themselves during learning, and use the reserves of their minds. As, it
should be born in mind that all these resources require the activation of both
left and right hemispheres. Thus, we let our students use their long-term
memory and learn effectively during such activities. So there is an undeniable
fact that if our concern is to provide a successful and beneficial teaching, we
must not hesitate to use songs, poems, games, and problem solving activities,
which bring the structural, pragmatic, prosodic and communicative aspects of
language together, in our language classrooms.
Aydan Ersoz' Six Games for the EFL/ESL Classroom' From 'Six Games for the EFL/ ESL
Classroom' TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 6, June 2000.
Lee Su Kim 'Creative Games for the Language Class' 33 No 1, January - March
1995, Page 35.
Uberman Agnieszka 'The Use of Games For Vocabulary Presentation and Revision' 36
No 1, January - March 1998, Page 20
Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen and Khuat Thi Thu Nga 'Learning Vocabulary Through
Games', 'Asian EFL Journal', December, 2003.
Martha M. Lengeling and Casey Malarcher “A Natural Resource for Teachers”, October
- December 1997 Page 42.
Wright Andrew, Betteridge David and Buckby Michael, 'Games for Language
Learning' (2nd. Ed.)Cambridge University Press, 1984.