Week 2 Day 2: Grammar (Introduction to Language Awareness) and CCQs
This input session lasted for an hour or so and went like this:
Each table was given an envelope with two batches of strips of coloured paper containing headings and words. Pink strips contained headings, such as “conjunctions”, and blue strips had words such as “and”. The object was to match the words to their headings. When we’d finished, we were to run up to the front and squeeze a squeaky toy. So, lots of shrieks, whoops and squeaks…
The best part were the ICQs – take note. How many words are there under each heading? THREE! What colour are the headings? PINK! Blah, blah, blah…
Sounded a bit like the coach before sending the players to the battle pitch: Who are the best? WE! Who are we going to thrash? TEAM X! Blah, blah, blah… 😉
Next, we were given five quotes and we discussed, in pairs, to see if we agreed or disagreed:
- The study of grammar as such is neither necessary nor sufficient for learning to use the language.
- It is through speech acts that new language ‘sticks’ in the learners’ mind. Insight into grammar is an equal partner in the dual process of acquisition/learning.
- Grammar is the engine behind language – it’s what makes the language stick together.
- Without studying grammar you can’t learn a language.
- Teachers of English should know all its rules.
What drew my attention was the fact that no sources were mentioned! Were we not told that we had to cite all sources, and we were graded negatively when we failed to comply? Mmm…
In discovery activity 2, we were to put 12 examples of verb forms into these categories: simple, perfect, continuous. For example: He’s waiting / I’d imagined, etc.
I wasn’t sure as to the aim of this activity. Take “She’s been living”. I know it’s a present perfect continuous tense, but which category would you put it under? More importantly, does it matter?
Then, the second part of this activity was to deduce the rules on how to identify these three categories:
- Simple tenses have no auxiliaries
- Perfect tenses always have “has”, “have” or “had”
- Continuous tenses always have a form of the verb “to be” plus a verb in -ing form (they liked to call the latter “verbing”).
Finally, discovery activity 3 was to name the tenses of four sentences based on the rules we “discovered” above.
I personally got nothing out of this session apart from a few laughs as it was quite a relaxing afternoon, in that sense. I know that Celta trainees are basically a mixed bunch of pre-service teachers and more experienced ones, and there are those who are familiar with grammar and those who aren’t. Some trainees didn’t know their perfect tenses from the simple. So, perhaps this session was aimed at the middle ground, which, to me, served little purpose. For those with inadequate grammar knowledge I doubt it enlightened them very much and for those with advanced knowledge, it was an hour’s worth of socialising, nothing much more than that.
What did the rest got out of it, I wonder…
Before this session, we had another, one on Conveying Meaning. I don’t have many records of this, which is why I haven’t reflected on it to the same extent. We were basically informed of the different ways of conveying meaning followed by examples of checking meaning, which means…yes…you’ve guessed it! Concept Checking Questions! I don’t remember much else except one of the sentences the meaning of which we had to convey was This milk is sour.