My natural instinct is always to go to the board, and I seem to end up spending a relatively long amount of time there. The students’ eyes glaze over, and they end up none the wiser. My explanation normally includes example sentences, perhaps timelines or pictures if relevant. I use concept checking questions, and I always have some kind of context, or at least I’m pretty sure I do.
SPEND 10 MINUTES LECTURING STUDENTS ABOUT GRAMMAR
That’s definitely not how we learn grammar: by listening to somebody else tell us about it for ten minutes, often in confusing, over-complicated language, with only minimal examples. Also, the students have probably heard versions of the lecture before. The problem isn’t whether they can understand your lecture and explain the rules to somebody else, it’s whether they can actually use the language.
Instead of lecturing, get the students doing a task showing whether they can use the grammar as soon as possible.
Clearly I knew that it was a problem seven years ago, but I didn’t know what to do about it. Things have changed though (I hope!) One of the trainees who observed my demo lesson two days ago said something like:
I’m worried because your lesson was so student-centred and you didn’t talk very much. I always talk a lot because teaching in [my country] is about telling the students everything.
We have a lot of work to do to help teachers move away from the idea that teaching = lecturing. Just do a search for ‘teacher’ and look at the range of stock photos you see. Here’s one:
(We’ll ignore the fact she looks like isn’t wearing any shoes!)
We need to see and show a lot more examples of students working with teachers in a less teacher-fronted way. Some of the videos here might help, though some of them also have teacher-fronted work.
What else can we do in initial training and when working with new teachers? How can we help them move past the images of teaching they have in their heads from media and from their apprenticeship of observation?