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Pilgrims 2005 Teacher Training Courses - Read More
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Humanising Language Teaching
Humanising Language Teaching
Humanising Language Teaching
AN OLD EXERCISE

Writing "grammar letters"to your students

Mario Rinvolucri, Pilgrims, UK

As an alternative to doing grammar presentations in class, how about writing a "grammar letter" to your students?
This technique, of breath-taking simplicity, has been around for the past 15-20 years, but I wonder how broadly it is used and whether initial trainees get introduced to it?

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Grammar letter 1

Comparatives

Dear Class,

I have known Michael since I was 13. At that age we were very different.
He was heavier and stronger then me - he shaved and I didn't. I think he was nine months older then me, too. Perhaps I was a bit better at languages than he was, but not a lot.
I became a teacher and he went onto medicine. Today, 50 years on , I guess he understands people at a deeper and fuller level than I do. He is kinder and more tolerant with his wife than I am with mine. I get the feeling that he better at simply being than I amů..perhaps I am better at doing than he is.

Once you have read this letter, please write me one in which you compare yourself to a relative or friend. Write so I really learn something new about you.

Warmly yours,

Mario

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Grammar Letter 2

Modal verbs: need and have to + passive

Dear Monday Morning People,

Do you ever feel you have too much to do? Do things ever pile up and feel too much?
Lots of stuff needs doing in the garden at this time of year. The lettuce seedling beds have to be watered daily and so do the tomato plants. Plenty bushes could do with cutting back.
Things to be done are not just in the garden. I have five shirts that need ironing for the week and there are maybe 20 e-mails to be answered. On top of that I have an article I need to get off before the end of the week.
As you come to the end of my letter, can you think about things that you have piling up and which need doing. Please write me a letter about things you have to get done this week..

Warmly yours,

Mario

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Give the idea a whirl... Write to your classes, modeling the new grammar structure. Your text will be much more interesting than any conceivable structure-loaded passage in a coursebook.. Your student learn the language principally from you and only secondarily from external materials, third person materials. So letters from you to them are simply commonsense.

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