Grammar is often named as a subject difficult to teach. Its technical
language and complex rules can be intimidating. Teaching a good grammar lesson
is one thing, but what if you're in the middle of a reading or speaking activity
and a student has a grammar question? Some students may have studied grammar in
their home countries and be surprised that you don't understand, "Does passive
voice always need the past participle?" But even if your student's question is
simple and jargon-free, explaining grammar is a skill you will need to acquire
through practice. If you don't know how to explain it on the spot, write down
the specific sentence or structure in question and tell the student you will
find out. There are several resources below that can help you understand and
explain various grammar issues.
Consider the following as you integrate grammar into your lessons.
- Acknowledge your role.
As a volunteer, you aren't expected to be a grammar expert. You may have
difficulty explaining the 'why' behind grammar points, but you can recognize
'right' and 'wrong' wording and your students will still benefit from your
- Find good lesson plans.
It's difficult to make a good grammar lesson from scratch, so any
searching you do for appropriate grammar lessons in textbooks or on the
Internet will be time well spent. See the
Lesson Materials section of this guide for
- Use meaningful texts.
The sentences you use to teach and practice grammar shouldn't be random.
Choose material that is relevant. For example, if your learners are preparing
for citizenship or need workplace English, use these contexts to create
appropriate examples. If possible, bring in real-life, authentic texts to
illustrate your points.
- Teach basic grammar words.
Although you need not be fluent in grammar jargon, it's a good idea to
teach at least some vocabulary (noun, verb, past tense, etc.) to assist you in
your explanations. Intermediate and advanced students may be familiar with
many such words already. As a practice activity, you can choose 2-3 parts of
speech, specify different symbols for each (underline, circle,
box), and have students mark their occurrences in a sentence or paragraph.
The links below will help you understand and explain various grammar points.
The first two are from British sources, so don't be distracted by non-American