Teaching Grammar through Short Stories

Teaching grammar to students of all ages has been known to be tedious and boring as students are required to do drills on structures and remember rules. This has caused English teachers to try different strategies and techniques to bring fun to the classroom, as well as apply a variety of methods disseminating concepts and principles so that they can be comprehended by their students.

Most of the young students are fond of reading stories, so why not take advantage of this?

Stories can be used for both extracting a certain grammar topic or exemplifying it. Grammar rules can be pointed out through short stories if they are selected considering the level of the class and are taught in an interesting and non-boring way that involves the students interactively. Interactive and task-based grammar teaching and learning can be initiated through the proper use of short stories in a language class.

Good stories can hold students’ attention; such stories can easily be best sellers considering that they can provoke the imagination of familiar objects or situations and therefore the element of panic in an unfamiliar situation or territory gradually disappears, leaving students eager to read more and invent stories of their own.

Short story completion – this exercise can be used for any level of students. Give them the beginning of a mystery short story to make them interested, and ask them to complete the story using several verbs in the past simple tense, five articles, two comparative adjectives, one prepositional phrase, etc. These criteria can be adapted for each level.

Editor – this type of exercise can also be adapted for any grade level. The teacher chooses a short story and changes words or only a certain part of speech such as helping verbs so that grammar is incorrect. The pupils must read the story and then correct it. The teacher could also delete necessary punctuation in the short story and ask students to add the punctuation where it is needed. For example, dialogue provides an opportunity for children to practice putting in quotation marks. The more mistakes corrected, the better!

Peer review – this exercise works well in middle school or high school. Students are asked to write their own short story that must include a certain tense or a certain part of speech. After they complete the stories, they have to choose a partner, swap stories, and correct their partner’s story. After they finish the task, the teacher should ask the students to rewrite the stories, incorporating correct grammar.

Past/ present/ future – for this exercise, the teacher provides a short, attractive story written using past tenses, then divides the students into 4-5 groups and asks them to provide a continuation, telling what happens to the characters in the present and what will they do, in the future.  They take turns in reading their stories and, maybe, vote for the best present story, or future story.

Children would certainly enjoy learning grammar rules if they are taught in a meaningful context, and thereby they acquire a new language spontaneously. The use of short stories as contexts is welcomed by the and it can be a useful tool for the teachers who really want to come out of the traditional method of grammar teaching and make it more practical, interesting, and fun for the students.



prof. Anca Laura Ilie

Liceul Tehnologic Elena Caragiani, Tecuci (Galaţi) , România
Profil iTeach: iteach.ro/profesor/anca.ilie1

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