Extend Your Grammar Instruction with Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod

Christina Cavage
By Christina Cavage

What a year it’s been! We are entering a new academic year during unprecedented times. If you are like me, you are looking for ways to deeper engage your learners whether they are sitting in the classroom with you, seeing you via Zoom, or participating in your asynchronous online environment. If we have learned anything this year, we have learned that we have to revisit how we present content, and how students interact with content.  That’s where the Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod comes in.

What is Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod

First, let’s review what exactly it is. Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod is a library of lessons on the most critical grammar structures. It includes instruction and engaging practices. The idea behind the delivering it via the Nearpod platform is that it allows you fill in the gaps in grammar teaching in an engaging yet pedagogically sound manner. You can supplement your teaching, whether it be listening, speaking, or writing with these supplemental grammar lessons. However, the greatest thing about this platform is that it allows you, the teacher, to reorganize a lesson, modify a lesson, delete content from a lesson, and even add content and activities to the lessons. Thus, it is truly customizable. In essence, lessons and content can be tailored to your courses’, program’s or students’ needs.

Once you add a lesson to your library, it is yours to modify. You can reorder slides or delete slides you do not need.

Let’s say you want to modify. You can modify existing content by changing questions, adding images, or even altering quiz questions.

Watch this short video to see how you can easily modify content.

By doing so, you can be sure to cover the student learning outcomes (SLOs) in our course. I also often change the names of people to reflect the students in my class! Or, consider modifying by changing the location of places used, or the images. One of my favorite things about the Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod is the ability to add your own content and your own activities. There are several options when adding content. Here is a Nearpod’s list.

List of Nearpod activities

There are some great options included in this list. A few of my favorites include Video, Flocabulary Video, Field Trip and Slideshow. If you showed a PowerPoint in class, you can create a slideshow of it, and embed it in your lesson. If you want to engage your students in a particular theme or place, add a Field Trip. These field trips take you to the moon, and around the world. The Flocabulary Video is a great way for students to have video storyboards and share with one another. And, then video. The video option is wonderful because you can add your own created video, or you can search on YouTube and find a video there. In either case, you can embed questions within the video. So, students watch a piece of the video, and then are presented with either an open-ended question or a multiple-choice question. This is a great engagement tool, as well as an excellent way to formatively assess your students.

Lastly, you can also add your own activities. There are several types of activities you can add. You can add collaborative discussion boards, polls, matching, open-ended questions and more. In the end, Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod provides curated content built on sound pedagogy that can be altered to meet your needs.

Watch this short video to see how you can easily add your own content to the course.

Let’s be honest, no one understands the needs of your program, your course and especially your students more than you!

Ready to give the Pearson Modular Grammar Course Powered by Nearpod a spin? Find out more information at nearpod.com/pearson or contact your dedicated ELT Sales Specialist for a demo at pearsoneltusa.com/reps.

The Value of Repetition

Stacy Hagen
By Stacy Hagen

As teachers, we are trained to focus on activities that are communicative and task-based. Grammar practice, particularly at the sentence level, often brings associations of rote drills and repetition. However, Zoltan Dornyei (2009) points out that communicative language teaching is based on learning by doing and does not look at how people actually learn. Some second language researchers have turned to cognitive science to look at what is happening in the adult brain as we learn, and findings related to memory and skill acquisition have important implications for how we practice the skills.

This article explains the value of repetition in the grammar class.

For a long time, we were taught that repetition was a bad word.  This goes back to the audio-lingual era of drill and kill.  But research from cognitive science tells us that repetition has value. 

First, brain scans show that repetition causes the brain to physically change.  New connections are formed between neurons (think of neurons as information messengers).  And the connections between neurons are thicker, stronger, and more hard-wired.

This helps students retain and solidify what they have learned.  Without a lot of repetition or review, students are less likely to recall what they have learned. 

The trick is to make repetition interesting.  I’m sure you know all these techniques for repetition:

role play

drama techniques

story-telling

pairworks

strip stories

songs/chants

Let me show you another technique to make repetition interesting:  4/3/2.  It works well for the re-telling of a story or an event.   In this exercise from the new edition of the Fundamentals of English Grammar, there are two fables.  Half the class has story A and half the class has story B.

Give students time to learn their story well enough to retell it.  Partner A then tells Partner B the story in 4 minutes.  Next, Partner A tells another student the same story in 3 minutes.  Finally, Partner A has 2 minutes to tell a final person.

Often during the first telling, students voices are very low and the language is halting.  The second time it’s better, but by the third time, the class can become very animated.  It’s a wonderful way to work in repetition and encourage fluency at the same time.

References:

Nation, I.S.P & Jonathan Newton. 2008. Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking. New York: Routhledge.


Stacy Hagen is a teacher, a teacher trainer, and the co-author of the best-selling Azar-Hagen Grammar Series. The most recent edition of Fundamentals of English Grammar is now available. pearsoneltusa.com/azar

Cover of Fundamentals of English Grammar 5E

Reducing Cognitive Load

Stacy Hagen
By Stacy Hagen

As teachers, we are trained to focus on activities that are communicative and task-based. Grammar practice, particularly at the sentence level, often brings associations of rote drills and repetition. However, Zoltan Dornyei (2009) points out that communicative language teaching is based on learning by doing and does not look at how people actually learn. Some second language researchers have turned to cognitive science to look at what is happening in the adult brain as we learn, and findings related to memory and skill acquisition have important implications for how we practice the skills.

This article discusses the concept of cognitive load.

Our working memory (think of this as our immediate memory) has capacity limits.  Basically, we can’t handle as much information as had previously been believed.  New research on learning tells us that students benefit if we can reduce the cognitive load.

Scientist used to think that 5-7 chunks* of information could be held in our working memory.  But new research tells us that two to four chunks are more realistic.  The implication for teachers is that we need to break our explanations into more manageable chunks for our students. In practical terms, one of the things we can do is to introduce less information at one time.  You’ll see this in the fifth edition of the Azar-Hagen Grammar Series.  Long charts have been broken up into smaller ones.  Here’s an example from the Fundamentals of English Grammar, Fifth Edition:

example of a grammar chart with information in manageable chunks

Previously, this introduction to articles was in a two-page chart.  Now there are two new charts, and we have simplified the explanations.  We also use pictures to illustrate the concept of specific and non-specific. This is more manageable and user-friendly for students.

As you will see in the new editions of the Fundamentals of English Grammar and Understanding and Using English Grammar, the presentation of material in the grammar charts helps reduce the cognitive load. Breaking down explanations and exercises into shorter pieces or sub-tasks helps reduce the working memory load, allowing learners to absorb material better.

*A chunk is a single unit.  Think of a phone number.  There are 10 digits or 10 unrelated numbers.  But we can group phone numbers into 3 chunks to make it easier to remember.

References:

Dornyei, Zoltan. 2009. The Psychology of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Stacy Hagen is a teacher, a teacher trainer, and the co-author of the best-selling Azar-Hagen Grammar Series. The most recent edition of Fundamentals of English Grammar is now available. pearsoneltusa.com/azar

Re-thinking the Purpose of Grammar

Stacy Hagen
By Stacy Hagen

There is still controversy about whether or not to teach grammar, and some teachers are unsure of its purpose.  It’s helpful to look at this quote from Martha Pennington.

Grammar is “nothing more or less than the organizing principles of a linguistic or (broader) communicational system, without which, there is no system.”

Basically, explicit grammar instruction helps students organize the language.  It forms the BASE for the other skills we teach:  reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  It’s simply a base.  It’s not about teaching students terminology for the sake of terminology.  In fact, as a teacher, I try to avoid using terminology as much as possible.  Our students don’t need to be grammarians; that’s our role.

Explicit grammar instruction helps students see patterns.  This is critical because cognitive science tells us that the adult brain is a pattern-seeking organ.  Adult learners are looking for rules.  That’s why grammar charts work!  According to neuroeconomist Arkady Konovalov at the University of Zurich, humans try to detect patterns in their environment all the time because it makes learning easier.

As you know, other, another, and the other can be really confusing for students.  One way to show the pattern is by using circles, as in this new chart from the fifth edition of the Fundamentals of Using English Grammar:

Chart 6-15 from Fundamentals of English Grammar, 5E

While visuals work well, summaries, as in the green words in (c) and (d), are also helpful.  In other words, clear, uncluttered charts help students see patterns. 

We can also show patterns in exercises.  It’s very typical to tell students (via a chart) that the passive is formed with the verb be plus the past participle.  And then we expect students to begin forming passive sentences. But students can really be confused by the various forms of be and whether a verb is a past participle or not.  In the following exercise, students are asked to find the be verb and the “past participle” and then decide if it’s passive or not:

Exercise on the passive voice

In item 1, they will see there is no be verb and no past participle, so it can’t be passive.  But item 2 is passive because both the be verb and the past participle are present.

By going through several items like this, students begins to realize that they need BOTH the be verb and past participle necessary for the passive to be formed.

Seeing patterns makes learning more efficient.  Let’s help our students become aware of them.


References:

Grammar and Communication:  New Directions in Theory and Practice.  Pennington, M.   From:  New Perspectives on Grammar Teaching in Second Language Classrooms, edited by Eli Hinkel, Sandra Fotos, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates 2008.


Stacy Hagen is a teacher, teacher trainer, and co-author of the best-selling Azar-Hagen Grammar Series. The new, fifth edition of the intermediate level, Fundamentals of English Grammar, is available now. www.pearsoneltusa.com/azar.

Remote Learning Strategies with Side by Side eTexts

By Bill Bliss and Steven J. Molinsky

We are inspired by how quickly and creatively English language instructors have implemented remote learning over the past several weeks in response to the challenge of moving their classes online. Many are using the eText versions of Side by Side Plus and Side by Side Extra for this purpose, citing the programmatic and predictable nature of the courses and their “Zoom-friendly” communicative methodology.

To support instructors, we have created a new quick-start guide to Remote Learning Strategies with the Side by Side eText. It offers tips for using the eText along with Zoom and other platforms to create a dynamic and interactive remote learning experience. The guide also explains how teachers can use the eText to create classes, modify course content, communicate with students, and document their program participation and progress.

Side by Side eText

Synchronous, Asynchronous, and Independent Learning

Synchronous instruction is easy, interactive, and fun using a conferencing platform such as Zoom or Google Meet. Instructors can use screensharing to display the lesson page on students’ devices. Breakout rooms enable the highly interactive pair practice that is the hallmark of the Side by Side guided conversation methodology.

Asynchronous learning is an important component of the remote learning experience as students preview on their own activities and content to prepare for a synchronous class, and then do follow-up activities to reinforce and expand upon the online lesson.

Independent learning is promoted through easy-to-access embedded audio, course features such as the Side by Side Gazette, and the unique FunZone digital amusement park that offers informal, self-directed, and flexible learning through motivating instant-feedback activities, games, and videos.

Zooming with the Side by Side eTexts

screensharing

Screensharing allows instructors to display the digital student book page for all students, with instant access to the audio program for each page. The eText’s enlargement tool makes it possible to focus on a particular activity, such as a dialog, illustration, or exercise. This is especially helpful to students who access online sessions on a smartphone or small tablet device.

gallery view

Gallery View builds community in the online classroom as students participate together in listening and speaking practice, present dialogs and role plays, and engage in discussions.

breakout rooms

Breakout Room mode in the Zoom platform is the ideal environment for pair practice that is at the core of the Side by Side guided conversation methodology. The instructor can pre-assign particular students to work together in pairs, or the platform can assign pairs automatically.

The eText can do that? I didn’t know!

Many teachers using the eText are unaware that their Instructor Version enables them to create classes and post assignments and notes to students directly to their students’ eTexts, without the need for an LMS such as Canvas or Blackboard. Onboarding students is an easy registration process at the Pearson English Portal, and creating courses and class rosters happens through the eText platform and a simple email invitation to students to join a class.

The platform’s Notes feature allows students to type and save written work in their eTexts, send it to the instructor as an email or text message, and even save all the coursework as a digital portfolio. (As a low-tech solution, reproducible Remote Learner Participation forms for each unit are also available. Students can indicate the amount of time spent on each unit’s activity, take a photo of the completed form, and send it to the instructor in an email or text message.)

Teaching Strategies

The quick-start guide offers step-by-step suggestions for using each type of Side by Side activity in a blend of remote learning modes of instruction: synchronous, asynchronous, and independent. The guide also provides simple instructions for onboarding students, creating courses, and using the eText platform to document learner participation.

We hope that this resource is helpful as you continue to adapt your instruction to meet your students’ language learning needs at this challenging time.

To download the quick-start guide, click here.

For information about Side by Side Plus and Side by Side Extra, click here.

To download information about career/academic and civics content and CCRS/ELPS standards in Side by Side Plus, click here.

To locate your dedicated Pearson ELT Specialist, click here.