Thursday, January 23, 2014




  1. Information in the slides is obtained from the module of TSL3108, for the use of students of PPG TESL Sem 4 Ambilan Khas Feb 2013, IPTHO.

  2. State a problem you face in the teaching of one grammatical item to your pupils in your primary ESL classroom. Briefly describe how you overcome the problem.

  3. My name is Uma Mageswari A/P Balakrishnan and I teach ESL to Level 2 students in SJKT Jalan Haji Manan Kluang. More specifically, I teach Year 4 students.When I started to teach ESL for this class, I had a bit of experience tutoring with non-English speaking students. Needless to say, it was a challenging few months. However, as time went on, I learned to communicate better with them. I learned how important it is to teach basic grammar such as ‘ Prepositions’ and find it is difficult to teach students who have very little English ability. Everyone knows that prepositions are a problem to teach and it's difficult for ESL students to remember their appropriate usage. Here is a fairly straight forward activity for prepositions that keeps students active and interested. Perhaps i need to overcome the problem. These are some of the mistakes that did by pupils :-

    1) I was born on October. ( Wrong )
    I was born in October. ( Correct )
    - in refer to a month/a year /a century/a season

    2) I was born on October 31, 1975. ( Correct )
    - on refer to date/ a weekday

    It doesn't have to be difficult to teach prepositions to our young ESL students. Granted, prepositions are a little bit harder because they are more of a concept than a mere vocabulary word. However, students are probably familiar with these words in their native language, so they can catch on quite quickly.

    Here are some of the ways to overcome this problem :-

    1. Use flash card games.
    I probably may use some flash cards illustrating the different prepositions. If not, then I can easily print out a set at MES-English. I can use these cards to play bingo, memory, or most of the games over on my games page.

    2. Say the Opposite.
    Most prepositions have opposites. It's a good challenge to have the students say the opposite. For example, if I say "in", they must say "out". It's extra challenging if i show them a card and have them say the opposite because their first reaction is to say what's on the card.

    3. Place the toy.
    Give each student a toy. I like to use small plastic animals. Sit in a circle and, as a group, practice using prepositions by having everyone put the animal "in front of them ", or "on their head". Then, tell each student to put their animal somewhere around the classroom--"under the chair" or "in front of the door". If students are more advanced, teacher can have them tell another student where to put their animal.

    4. As a Group.
    One thing that I have found to be very fun is to direct the students around the room. Say "Everybody stand next to the sink!" and when everyone has gone there, change to a new place. If teachers very daring, and have fairly young students, they can instruct them to "Jump over me." or "Stand on me."

    5. Create an Obstacle Course.
    Set up a small obstacle course around the classroom using tables, chairs, and anything else we might have in the classroom. Students enjoy getting active and being told to "crawl under the table" and "walk around the chair three times".

    Uma Mageswari D/O Balakrishnan

  4. My name is Maria bt Zainal and I am teaching level 1 student in SK LKTP Ayer Hitam. I teach Year 1 student. The situation that I am facing mostly is personal pronouns he and she. Pupils level 1 need guidance from teacher and always use drill activities.These are some of the mistakes that did by pupils;
    1) This is Ali. She is kind. (wrong)
    This is Ali. He is kind. (correct)
    Notes:He is refer to (boy). She is refer to (girl)

    Here are some of the ways to overcome this problem.

    1) Use puppets
    Teacher will use a puppets on her/his hands and show a simple conversation. One puppets is a boy and either is girl. The girl puppets say;hello I am Lina. The boy puppets will reply, she is a girl. Then the boy puppet say;hello,I am Adi. The girl puppet will reply he is a boy.

    2) substitution table
    In writing teacher will build a substitution table and pupils will choose and write in the worksheet given.
    Kamal is clever. She is a boy.
    Tina kind. He a girl.
    Siva good.
    Mei Ling

    1) Tina is kind.She is a girl.

    3) Use picture card
    Teacher show a picture card such as a dentist. Pupils will write and say either the picture show he/she is a dentist on the blackboard.

    Maria bt Zainal
    PPG Tesl Sem 4

    1. Hi Maria, I read up and understood well your problem of using pronouns she and he in the sentences.
      After long years, I got chance to enter year 1. Recently, I faced the same problem with my pupils in the classroom.

      Children with language delays often have difficulty with the he she pronouns. Some children call everyone “he” or everyone “she” despite their gender, some children say “him” and “her” instead, and some children just omit them entirely. Well no matter how your child is changing it, it can make it very hard to follow his train of thought if you’re not sure exactly who he’s talking about.

      Here, I would like to share some easiest ways of teaching pronouns. (she and he).

      This is the first step to using “he” and “she” correctly because if you don’t understand the difference between a boy and a girl, you’re not going to be able to use those pronouns correctly. Start by just asking your child “is that a boy or a girl?” when looking at pictures or pointing out real pictures. You can have her tell you boy or girl for family members, friends, familiar people, or pictures of people or characters in books. If your child is having trouble with real people, start with cartoon boys and girls. For some reason these seem to be easier for some children. Keep practicing this until your child can accurately tell you boy/girl when you ask. Make the practice fun by playing games while you do it.

      The other way is now you want your child to be able to say “he” and “she” in very short phrases. One way to do this, is to get a picture of a boy and a picture of a girl and then cut out pictures of objects (out of magazines or from online printouts). Place the boy and girl in front of your child. Hold up one object and say “who wants the ____?”. Help your child choose if he wants the boy to have it or the girl. Then, help your child say “he does” or “she does”.

      Another way you can use “he” and “she” in phrases is by placing two pictures in front of your child of a boy and a girl doing something. Then, ask your child “who is ____-ing?” and help your child answer “he is” or “she is”. For example, you could put down a picture of a boy riding his bike and a girl clapping her hands. Then you could ask, who is riding? Your child would then need to say “he is”.

      Once your child can correctly use “he” and “she” in single sentences, you will need to make the activities more difficult. Get out a story book that has girl and boy characters and have your child describe what’s happening in the pictures. Make sure that your child uses the correct pronouns (he/she) when describing what’s going on. You can also do this same activity while making up stories. Make sure that your child uses “he” and “she” when telling you about the characters in his story.

      Now that your child can use “he” and “she” in sentences and structured story-telling tasks, it’s time for your child to start using “he” and “she” correctly all the time. When you hear your child use these pronouns incorrectly, use one of the following prompts to try to guide your child back to using the correct word:
      •Repeat the error back as a question: “She is running?”
      •Ask if the person is a boy or a girl and then ask which pronoun should be used: “Is that a boy or a girl? Ok, so should we say ‘he’s my friend’ or ‘she’s my friend’?”
      •Catch the error and (kindly) point it out to your child: “Oh, you mean ‘she is happy’.”
      •Fix the error without pointing it out: “Yes, she is at her Grandma’s house.”

      Just remember, this whole process takes time and it may take months of working this process before your child is able to use he she correctly all the time. Have patience and have faith that your child can do it, it will just take a lot of practice.

      Ganesan Veerappan
      PPG Tesl Sem 4

    2. Thank you,Ganesan..I will apply the techniques..

  5. I found that most of my year 6 pupils are facing the same problem. That is, they are in the dark with the usage of THE VERB DO -- In English, we use the verb DO (DO, DOES, DONE, DID, etc.) in at least four different ways:
    As a verb like other verbs: Jennifer did the dishes
    As a sign of emphasis: I did comb my hair.
    As a verb that can be placed in front of the subject to form a question or to which can NOT be attached to form a negative statement: Do they want more bread? Mr. Jones doesn't know if the clock is correct.
    As a substitute to save repetition of another verb or verb phrase: My sister needs a new coat and I do too. They didn't finish their tests, but I did. Your students will probably have difficulty with all of the uses of DO except the first example.
    I've explained and showed a lot of examples to support their understanding but they still did the same mistakes over and over again. My solution at the end was to assign them on at least 10 written exercises on the verb "DO" and open discussion over the task for 10 minutes before my lessons end daily.

  6. Grammar is the usual problem that I face in my school. Mostly happens to the low achiever of my year 6 pupils. The first thing I face usually the incorrect usage of nouns, mostly the repetitive proper nouns used in writings and the lack understanding used of pronouns. as example:

    Ali goes to school. Ali walks alone. Ali carries his back.

    As you can see in the example above, my pupils tend to use repeat the proper nouns and not using pronouns to replace it. To overcome this problem, tend to use substitutions table as the most effective solutions to solve it. By using it, the problem can be ease in more faster and efficient.

    The incorrect used of tenses in essay writing in essay writing is like more than usual. It tends to happen everytime in my pupils essay. Jumbling up the usage of present tense and past tense happen all the time. For example:

    Aina goes to school. She went alone.

    As u can in above example. My pupils always mix up the usage of tenses in their essay. Always happen early in the 1st semester. To fix this, I tend to teach both of the tenses together instead of teaching it one by one. Firstly, I will use the LCD projector and projects pictures in the middle of the blackboard (not the whiteboard). Then, I will ask the pupils to tell me what they can see in the picture. I ask the verb use by the character in the picture ( The pupils will give either in present tense or past tense, both are acceptable). Then I will ask for a volunteer to create a sentence based on the picture and the verb. If the verb given is present tense, I will write the sentence on the left of the blackboard. If it in past tense I will write on the left of the blackboard. Then, the pupils will give the sentence in either present tense or past tense based on what I have written on the blackboard. As the process keep on going, the level of the difficulties of the picture shown will be added. The process started with picture with single character and as it goes on, pictures with multiple characters will be used and in the end pupils will write short text containing 4 to 5 sentences per picture.

    Mohd Nizam Mohamed
    Semester 4 2014

    1. Mr. Nizam’s activities are very suitable for Phase 2 pupils in Year 5 to Year 6 because they already memorize and know many verbs or words in their mind. I agree with his technique to cater his problem in teaching tenses which I find very useful. But I’m a bit curious about his explanations on writing on the blackboard, or maybe he accidently wrote it wrongly. About writing both present tense and past tense on the same side, that is on the left side only. Maybe he will use left for present tense and right side for past tense, do correct me if my guessing if wrong.

      Other than that, I have some problems if I want to use this method. Pupils come with different abilities and not all the school has the LCD projector. As a teacher I must attract the pupils with attractive pictures and put them into mix ability group. Then they can work together in the class during the lesson. When it comes to the shortage of LCD unit in the school, I think I can use the television in the Video Room during the lesson and use whiteboard to write. However to achieve this I suppose that as a teacher, I have to be patience and give my pupils drilling such as MCQ exercises and others.

    2. Dear Herda. There is an error. The past tense should be on the right side of the blackboard. Thanks dear.

  7. In English, word order is more important than it is in many other languages. Very often ESL students produce sentences that sound strange to the native's ear because the order of the words in the sentences is wrong. The basic pattern for English statements is: SUBJECT-VERB-OBJECT(S)-PLACE-TIME. Sentences do not have to have all of these parts, but if all of the parts do occur, they most likely will occur in this order. If a sentence has both a PLACE and a TIME, one of these is frequently moved to the front of the sentence.

    VERBS -- There are several problems that ESL student have with English verbs. Basically, however, the English verb system is fairly simple.Here are some of the problems students have:

    Present tense: The present tense in most language refers to actions that are taking place in the present. In English, this is not really true. We use present tense to refer to actions that are habitual, repeated, or always true. (e.g., The sun rises in the East; I get up every day at 6:00 a.m.

    Future tense: The most common future tense in English does not use WILL as you may have been taught. The most common future tense is produced with the expression GOING TO (e.g., I'm going to eat . . .; he's going to show us how . . .; we're going to study . . .). You should remember also that in everyday speech this GOING TO expression is pronounced "gonna" and that it is not incorrect to say it that way as long as it is understood.

    THE VERB DO -- In English, we use the verb DO (DO, DOES, DONE, DID, etc.) in at least four different ways:
    As a verb like other verbs: Jennifer did the dishes
    As a sign of emphasis: I did comb my hair.
    As a verb that can be placed in front of the subject to form a question or to which can NOT be attached to form a negative statement: Do they want more bread? Mr. Jones doesn't know if the clock is correct.
    As a substitute to save repetition of another verb or verb phrase: My sister needs a new coat and I do too. They didn't finish their tests, but I did. Your students will probably have difficulty with all of the uses of DO except the first example.

    Ganesan Veerappan
    SEM 4

  8. In my experience in teaching grammar, I found that most of the pupils can't remember what have been taught in the previous lesson. To enhance this problem, I prepared fun activities such as grammar game, songs and poems. I also prepared short notes or mind maps of grammar and pasted on the board. then ask them to read during free time.

    1. Askum sir,
      I seconded your ideas in using fun activities to overcome pupils' memories problems. I would like to add in an opinion regarding the same problem. As you know sir, our pupils are not taking reading habit seriously. So I think it will create another problem isn't it. So my suggestion is that to make the pupils map out all the key words or the main ideas that had been taught previously within 7 minutes. I've prepared the outlined of the mapping used. The pupils need to do this individually with or without guidance. Then at random I'll pick up any one of the mapping and ask the pupils to read up.
      I've used this technique in my lessons and still using it with my year 6 pupils'...... they are used to it and always be ready any time.

  9. Teaching grammar is fun. As a teacher, I will face many kinds of problems too. Through my experience in teaching, I can say most of the pupils have different abilities and lack of vocabularies. I have limited pupils in the advance group and more pupils in the intermediate, while I also have weaker pupils too. Therefore I have to spend a lot of time previously to explain to the pupils.

    The problem that I face in teaching grammar is about the Use of Articles.
    ( a, an, the )
    Some of the pupils will write sentences with little mistake that would show that they didn’t realize their simple mistake can affect the sentences. Pupils in the intermediate may write sentences for example like these :
    1) I have the rose.
    2) Hakim has a strawberries.
    3) The cat is catching a mice.
    4) She has a ice-cream.
    5) A grapes are sweet.
    To cater these problems, I have to prepare some techniques that can improve their understanding in this topic (article). These are some of the activities that I have done for my pupils. I have prepared a table for them to memorize and do some exercises (individual, pair or group)

    Singular (Example)
    a ( rose/table )
    an ( orange/ice-cream )
    ( a, e, i, o, u )
    the ( rose/duck/chairs )

    Plural (Example)
    the ( table/roses/cherries )

    In order to correct their mistake, I will ask them to refer to the time table.
    1) I have a rose.
    2) Hakim has the strawberries.
    3) The cat is catching the mice.
    4) She has an ice-cream.
    5) The grapes are sweet.

    Other activities that can suit my pupils abilities are, I can prepared picture cards, fun game such as matching or tracing and simple word games. This would attract the pupils and can influence the pupils to learn and memorize the topic taught (article).

    1. Hi Herda...
      Teaching grammar has always been a repetition in my experiences. I think you know that yourself. There are lot of ways in teaching articles such as using substitution tables, pictures, matching sentence to pictures, matching phrases, constructing sentences with picture stimulus, mind maps etc.
      I am the kind of teacher that likes to used video in teaching articles. Usually showing videos on YouTube by pausing at part where I can ask my pupils to give the correct article for the noun on the video. or sometimes I would pause when I saw a noun such as:

      I saw a bear on the picture.
      Can you show me the bear?

      Then I ask the pupils to show me the picture related to what I say. After that, i write the sentences on the blackboard and ask pupils to read aloud and copy them.

      Hope this idea of mine can help you.

      Mohd Nizam Mohamed
      PPG TESL SEM 4

  10. Students are too dependent

    The other side of the coin is when you have students who constantly seek your help. They may ask you to help them complete an exercise or just blurt out they
    can’t/don’t know how to do something on their own.For me I will encourage my pupils to trust his own judgment while giving him some hints and leading him toward the correct answer.

  11. Year 4 (Level - Moderate)
    Problem: Demonstrative Pronouns (point out things)
    Pupils easily get confused with this - that and these - those
    So the best thing was I brought some objects and explained using the objects..
    its was easier that way because they can see the things / objects.
    then pupils were given chance to work in pair.. they must listened to their partners and acted accordingly.

    1. Dear Perlyn,
      I agree with you. The best way to learn and memorize grammar,we need a song. For level 1 student that i'm teaching,they will memorize only one day practice with action songs.Practice the grammar in pair also make them confidently to use the correct grammar.Well done,teacher.

  12. When it come to grammar, most of the ESL teacher will facing the same problems where they have difficulities in teaching them even for simple grammar like articles or pronouns. there are many ways to overcome this problem actually. These are some of the activities that i will use in teaching grammar.

    a) using flash cards
    - this method is suitable in teaching articles.

    b) subtitution table
    - this method also good for articles, pronouns and etc

    c) realrelia
    - if we want to teach nouns, this method is the best way as the pupils will understand more about the topic.

  13. My students speaking activities begin as soon as they enter the classroom. Role plays, drills, discussions and lots of fun loaded activities help them to speak.The atmosphere is quite informal and cheerful and I encourage them to talk on any topic and problems. My students hail from various countries and hence have lots to share and also inquire.

    Rosnita binti Ab. Rahman
    Sem 4

  14. One of the problems generally faced by me at school is the poor standard of the pupils. Pupils are even ignorant of the basic rules and structural patterns which they are supposed to have learnt at home with the parents. If a teacher directly starts his teaching at the high level without trying to know the level of the pupils, his efforts will not bear any fruits as he will not be able to raise a structure over a feeble foundation.

    Therefore, I before starting his teaching must assess the language background of the learners. Keeping in view the background of the pupils, I should select teaching items, grade them and present them in accordance with the local situations.

    I should begin from the Basic grammatical items and proceed towards the complex ones. Each succeeding grammatical item has to be based on the previous ones taught earlier in the class. Thus, by carefully selecting the frequently recurring grammatical items and by grading them as per the background of the learners, I should provide constant practice to the Pupils in creating and using sentences based on the grammatical forms and structures in various day-today situations of their lives.