Teaching Students Grammar Through Traditional Methods English Language Essay

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Drawing from this particular concept, the authentic activity that we choose to do was using a fairy tale like Hansel and Gretel to teach students of form 2 and 3 grammar rules on the direct and indirect speech after the explanation of the teacher. In this way, we will be showing the two possible ways in which "explicit instruction" may take place. The time allotted for this activity will be two periods. In the first 20 minutes of the first period, the teacher will explain the rules of the direct and indirect speech directly on the blackboard.

The rules will be explained as follows:

The students will be made familiar with quoted and re-quoted questions. They will also learn how to use conjunctions to join sentences when they transform them into indirect speech. Then, they will learn how to adjust pronouns, verb tenses and adverbs so as to fit the transformed sentences.

As the verbs are the most important and sometimes difficult to be grasped by the students, the teacher will use the following table to explain the various changes that occurs:

QUESTION VERB TENSE

EMBEDDED VERB TENSE

PRESENT

PRESENT/PAST

"How are you?"

She asked how I was.

"What do you think?"

She asked what I think.

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

PAST PROGRESSIVE

"Where are you going?"

She asked where I was going.

PAST

PAST PERFECT

"Whom did you call?"

She asked whom I called/had called.

PAST PROGRESSIVE

PAST PROGRESSIVE

"Whom were you calling?"

She asked whom I was calling.

PRESENT PERFECT

PAST PERFECT

"Where have you been?"

She asked where I was/had been.

PRESENT PERFECT PROGRESSIVE

PAST PERFECT PROGRESSIVE

"How have you been doing?"

She asked how I was doing/had been doing.

The students then will learn that the verb tenses change to the point of view of the speaker and to that of time.

After the explanation of the teacher, the students will have to do an activity so as to recognise the rules of the direct and indirect speech by themselves.

Description of the activity

The class will be divided into two and then the students will further need to work in groups of three or in pairs. The first half of the class will be give half of the story of Hansel and Gretel while the other half will be working with the second half of the story. The story which is a very famous one and which most of the students already know about will be modified by the teacher beforehand by including a lot of dialogues and also the indirect speech after each dialogue.

The students will have to separate the sentences, putting direct and indirect speech into separate columns in their copybooks while looking for verb tenses, punctuation and sentence structure. So doing, they will have to note the various changes pertaining to the above stated grammar rules and then share it with the class later on. Their work should look like this:

Pointing out indirect speech

DIRECT

INDIRECT

"There is not enough food in the house for us all. There are too many mouths to feed! We must get rid of the two brats," she declared.

She declared that there was not enough food in the house for all of them. She said that there were too many mouths to feed and that they had to get rid of the two brats.

"Don't worry! If they do leave us in the forest, we'll find the way home," he said.

He told Gretel not to worry. He said that if they did leave them in the forest, they would find the way home.

The aims of this activity

The aims of this activity are that when the students will be working in pairs or in groups of three, they will be able to look into details they will not have been able to notice alone. They will also be exposed to dialogues which they will be able to use in their own piece of writing, i.e. their narrative essays. The students will also be able to work productively and be careful to the verb tenses while they notice changes from the direct to the indirect speech.

Limitations

The problems that can be encountered during the activity are that students may find it difficult to work in pairs or groups as conflicts may rise. The activity is also very time-consuming as it will take 1 and a half period to conduct it. Working in groups will also encourage talking in class and this will be a hindrance for other students. Group works can also be unfair as while some 1 or 2 students work, the other one may not have contributed.

Annex

Hansel and Gretel

Once upon a time a very poor woodcutter lived in a tiny cottage in the forest with his two children, Hansel and Gretel. His second wife often ill-treated the children and was forever nagging the woodcutter.

"There is not enough food in the house for us all. There are too many mouths to feed! We must get rid of the two brats," she declared that there was not enough food in the house for all of them. She said that there were too many mouths to feed and that they had to get rid of the two brats.

"Take them miles from home, so far that they can never find their way back! Maybe someone will find them and give them a home." The downcast woodcutter didn't know what to do. Hansel, who one evening, had overheard his parents' conversation, comforted Gretel.

"Don't worry! If they do leave us in the forest, we'll find the way home," he told Gretel not to worry. He said that if they did leave them in the forest, they would find the way home. And slipping out of the house he filled his pocket with little white pebbles, and then went back to bed.

All night long, the woodcutter's wife harped on and on at her husband till, at dawn, he led Hansel and Gretel away into the forest. But as they went into the depths of the trees, Hansel dropped a little white pebble here and there on the mossy green ground. At a certain point, the two children found they really were alone: the woodcutter had plucked up enough courage to desert them, had mumbled an excuse and was gone.

Night fell but the woodcutter did not return. Gretel began to sob bitterly. Hansel too felt scared but he tried to hide his feelings and comforted his sister.

"Don't cry, trust me! I swear I'll take you home even if father doesn't come back for us!" Hansel swore Gretel that he would take her home even if their father did not come back for them. Luckily the moon was full that night and till its cold light filtered through the trees.

"Now give me your hand!" he told her to give him her hand. "We'll get home safely, you'll see!" He told her that they would get home safely. The tiny white pebbles gleamed in the moonlight, and the children found their way home.

Next day, when their stepmother discovered that Hansel and Gretel had returned, she went into a rage. Stifling her anger in front of the children, she locked her bedroom door, reproaching her husband for failing to carry out her orders. The wicked stepmother kept Hansel and Gretel under lock and key all day with nothing for supper but a sip of water and some hard bread. All night, husband and wife quarreled, and when dawn came, the woodcutter led the children out into the forest.

Hansel, however, had not eaten his bread, and as he walked through the trees, he left a trail of crumbs behind him to mark the way.

"I've left a trail, like last time!" Hansel consolingly whispered to Gretel that he had left a trail like the last time. But when night fell they saw to their horror that the crumbs had gone. The birds had eaten them all.

"I'm frightened!" Gretel said that she was frightened and she wept bitterly. "I'm cold and hungry and I want to go home!" she said she was cold and hungry and that she wanted to go home.

"Don't be afraid. I'm here to look after you!" Hansel tried to encourage his sister, but he too shivered when he glimpsed frightening shadows and evil eyes around in the darkness. All night the two children huddled together for warmth at the foot of a large tree.

When dawn broke, they started to wander about the forest, seeking a path, but all hope soon faded. They were truly lost. They walked on, till suddenly they came upon a strange cottage in the middle of a glade.

"This is chocolate!" Hansel gasped that it was chocolate as he broke a lump of plaster from the wall.

"And this is icing!" Gretel exclaimed that that was icing, putting another piece of wall in her mouth. Starving but delighted, the children began to eat pieces of candy broken off the cottage.

"Isn't this delicious?" said Gretel, with her mouth full. She had never tasted anything so nice.

"We'll stay here," Hansel declared that they would stay there, munching a bit of nougat. They were just about to try a piece of the biscuit door when it quietly swung open.

"Well, well!" said an old woman, peering out with a crafty look. "And haven't you children a sweet tooth?"

"Come in! Come in, you've nothing to fear!" went on the old woman. Unluckily for Hansel and Gretel, however, the sugar candy cottage belonged to an old witch, her trap for catching unwary victims.

"You're nothing but skin and bones!" the witch said that he was nothing but skin and bones, locking Hansel into a cage. "I shall fatten you up and eat you!" she said that she would fatten him up and eat him.

"You can do the housework." She told Gretel grimly that she could do the housework, "then I'll make a meal of you too!" As luck would have it, the witch had very bad eyesight, and when Gretel smeared butter on her glasses, she could see even less.

"Let me feel your finger!" the witch told Hansel to let her feel his finger everyday to check if he was getting any fatter. Now, Gretel had brought her brother a chicken bone, and when the witch went to touch his finger, Hansel held out the bone.

"You're still much too thin!" she complained that he was still much too thin. "When will you become plump?" she asked when he would become plump. One day the witch grew tired of waiting.

"Light the oven," she told Gretel to light the oven. "We're going to have a tasty roasted boy today!" she said that they were going to have a tasty roasted boy that day. A little later, hungry and impatient, she went on: "Run and see if the oven is hot enough." Gretel returned, whimpering that she could not tell whether it was hot enough or not: "I can't tell if it is hot enough or not." Angrily, the witch screamed at the little girl: "Useless child! All right, I'll see for myself." But when the witch bent down to peer inside the oven and to check the heat, Gretel gave her a tremendous push and slammed the oven door shut. The witch had come to a proper end. Gretel ran to set her brother free and they made quite sure that the oven door was tightly shut behind the witch. Then they stayed for several days to eat some more of the house, till they discovered amongst the witch's belongings, a huge chocolate egg. Inside laid a casket of gold coins.

"The witch is now burnt to a cinder," Hansel said that the witch was now burnt to a cinder, so they would take that treasure with them, "so we'll take this treasure with us." They filled a large basket with food and set off into the forest to search for the way home. This time, luck was with them, on the second day, they saw their father come out of the house towards them, weeping.

"Your stepmother is dead." He said that their stepmother was dead. "Come home with me now, my dear children!" The two children hugged the woodcutter.

"Promise you'll never ever desert us again," Gretel told her father to promise he would never ever desert them again, throwing her arms around her father's neck. Hansel opened the casket.

"Look, Father! We're rich now… You'll never have to chop wood again."

And they all lived happily together ever after.

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