[quote=“bob”]Krashen surely doesn’t disagree with this sort of thing does he?[/quote]Not easy to sum up briefly. Better you read that book at least once, taking notes if possible. As I said, very thought-provoking and a very good aid to reflection on your own teaching practice, whatever your eventual conclusions on the theory are.
Let’s leave aside Krashen and his theory for the moment. You were talking about implicit v.s. explicit grammar teaching. (For Krashen, both of these really belong in the realm of conscious learning and the monitor function.) Below are a couple of ideas I have about implicit presentation of grammar points.
It is difficult, sometimes frustrating. The more abstract the word or phrase, the more difficult it is. And you’re right, sometimes when you think you’ve made a concept so clear that even a three-year old could understand, you get a room of blank faces.
It’s certainly worth persisting though. And you and the students feel great because they can understand something in English they didn’t know before.
I think a key thing is getting the right level. The language should ‘piggyback’ on stuff the Ss know already. Too much new language at one go is demotivating.
I’m sure you have loads of routines and techniques that you use for these kinds of ‘implicit’ grammar presentations. Still, you mentioned comparatives so I thought I’d write the kind of thing I do to present those.
You could draw a tall person. Ask; “Is he short?” Ss will say; “No, he’s tall!” Acknowledge that. Then draw a taller person next to the other one. Make sure all the Ss accept that both people are tall. Then ask; “Which one is taller?” If Ss say the wrong one say “No, no – that one’s shorter. Which one’s taller?” When they pick the correct one you say; “Yes, this one’s even taller than that one.” Obviously make the drawings interesting by giving the people names, or just by drawing really badly.
It would be even better – more ‘brain-friendly’ and memorable – if you could use a tall student and yourself, or two tall students. This is as long as the Ss get on well and nobody’s going to feel belittled because he or she is shorter than someone else.
Then you can get the class up on their feet and maybe mark off their heights on the whiteboard. Find a student in the middle of the height range then ask the class to find a few students who are shorter and a few who are taller. Again be sensitive to feelings.
Then you can expand to include other comparatives, using students, classroom objects or drawings to illustrate, and always trying to get the class to the point where some of the Ss will start to provide the language for you. You have two thick books. You point first to the thinner of the two; say “This one’s thick…”, point to the other, “…but this one’s…”, pause with a puzzled look on face, whereupon somebody will jump in and say “Thicker!”
In a later lesson you can easily ‘piggyback’ on this concept to teach superlatives; “the tallest” etc.
I’m sorry if I come across as patronising. I know you’ve been teaching a fair while longer than I have, and I’m sure there’s a lot I could learn from you. But I think practical examples like these are a clear way of getting across what I mean.