Reasons I don't like most textbooks (5)

balloons
Take a deep breath.

Go on, blow out hard.

I'm bringing a unicorn into the balloon factory.

Although many of you will have read the following before, some agreeing and some not, many of you haven't.

Many of you intuitively know what I'm about to say is so true, so spot on - you've felt it for years but haven't put a finger on what it was that was bothering you so.

And for all of those who've thought about this and totally disagree, I ask of you to do one thing:



Before responding, answer not as a language teacher, not as an educator of other language teachers, not as a linguist or someone doing a masters in Second Language Acquisition writing up essays based on other people's theories... I ask of you not to respond as a materials writer, not as an editor or publisher.

I ask you to respond as

A Language Learner.



What's wrong with most textbooks that teach languages?

    Ever gone on a lovely vacation to a hot country and thought to yourself, as you desperately ravaged the pharmacy shelves for that product you need RIGHT now and wondered to yourself if, in a feeble attempt to describe your present debilitating condition to the pharmacist who is looking down at you in bemusement, that really before you open your mouth you'd better use the present perfect or would a present perfect continuous be more suitable in this case - oh lord, how to explain what you've taken the last time you were struck: the past simple or past perfect or now, wait - will you add one of those demonstratives, is the verb reflexive??? Heck, how do you conjugate it? You need the bathroom.

    Ever thought as you negotiated your taxes with a tough looking bureaucrat that perhaps you should have used a mixed conditional instead of that 3rd?

    Ever whispered one of those slippery modals to a lover then pondered, as you lay back in discontent, whether or not your sentence adequately communicated permission, suggestion, past ability, the potentiality of possibility... worth trying again?


No?

Really, no? Me neither.



Why do we teach language like it's math?


What's wrong with most textbooks?

The grammar based syllabus.

Best,
Karenne

More reasons I really don't like most coursebooks:

26 Responses to “Reasons I don't like most textbooks (5)”

  • Moomin says:
    November 03, 2009

    As a language learner *gulp* here goes:...

    They make me feel safe. I can confidently say "I've DONE the future perfect and ticked it off my list". I'm constantly left wondering however, it what real life situations I should use it. It's not until I find myself in the country whose language I'm studying however, that it becomes apparant that those blasted coursebooks merely lured me into a false sense of security that I KNEW the language. Here is where the real fun and learning now happens, surrounded by the culture, language and speakers of the language.

    If only my teacher had had the confidence/inclination to stray even a little from the coursebook and allowed me to talk my way to confidence rather than relying on the false promises delivered by made-up articles on Madonna. *sigh* I don't even know any swear words in this language with which to articulate my frustration :(

  • Glennie says:
    November 03, 2009

    Karenne, I share your feelings on the grammar-based syllabus.

    However, I think that there might be a certain kind of learner who, though not gaining very much at all from a grammar-based syllabus, is helped by 'grammatical' explanation ('this language is used to express this/to do this in this context') so that they can subsequently test what they hear/read against what they have been told. (I'm not sure that 'grammatical' is even the right word here.)

    For that kind of learner, I think some explanation can be useful. But that is not the same as building a course (course after course after course) around the tense system and the formation of the comparative, to name but one or two of the TEFL hardy perennials!

  • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
    November 03, 2009

    Exactly Glennie,

    I don't say "no" grammar - I say why build a course like it's a bunch of building blocks, one sitting on top of the other - we simply don't communicate that way.

    Madness.

    My personal feeling is that a pull out grammar guide can be written and inserted in the middle of the book - the students can use this as a reference in order to discuss the topics as presented.

    As one of my students says "if you don't speak it, you don't learn it"

    Emma,

    I hear your gulp and your swear words dilemma - my students love it when I tell them 'this is the polite way to say it however when chatting with friends, you might say x instead' The only authentic example that springs to my mind right in this moment is the classic Obama's description of Kayne West, shrug, I teach adults, they can handle it.

  • sabridv says:
    November 03, 2009

    Karen,
    As usual I totally agree with you. I hate syllabus built around grammar topics. I'm not saying we should do away with grammar but if language is a tool and the aim is communicating isn't it a bit contradictory to based our syllabus on grammar topics only? What are we teaching the book or the students? I think that their interests, likes, dislikes, needs are more important aspects around which we can start "building" our syllabus. The syllabus should not contrive us but help us find a goal, a direction.

  • Greg says:
    November 03, 2009

    Totally agree.
    Textbooks are responsible for Foreign Language Learning Anxiety and Fear of Speaking.

  • Jeremy Day says:
    November 04, 2009

    Hi Karenne

    You know what - those three situations you describe?

    As a language learner / non-native user (Polish), I get crises like these all the time. (Well, not the one with the lover, as I'm a happily married man).

    I struggle with Polish grammar all the time and it makes me stressed. And I'm reminded constantly how bad my grammar is by my mother-in-law (apparently I used to be much better). Now I don't get this paranoia from course books because I haven't used one to learn Polish for over 10 years.

    There's a lot to be said for carefree error-laden fluency. Sometimes I wish I didn't care so much about accuracy. But at the same time, I don't like sounding clumsy/ridiculous when I'm trying to express something in a professional situation in Polish.

    So when you say "Really, no? Me neither", I find myself, as a language learner, completely disagreeing with you.

    I think, for many learners, this obsession with grammatical accuracy is very deeply-held, and doesn't come from course books. It's a character trait. (For other learners, of course, there is no such obsession. Different personality types.)

    Now of course I'm fully aware of strategies to overcome such crises, which I teach to my own students. For example, I think vocab is much much more important than grammar for building confidence and fluency. And of course as teachers we need to encourage successful communication as opposed to technical accuracy.

    That's one reason why my own accuracy in Polish has gone downhill, in my mother-in-law's eyes - based on what I've learnt as a teacher, I've re-prioritised as a learner/user of Polish. I'm more fluent than I used to be, but I make more mistakes.

    But my deep language-learner instinct is still to care about grammar and to try to get it right and to want to know the rules and to expect a coursebook to be able to teach me those rules - among other things.

    (You asked me not to reply as a writer/editor. But I will just add that we very deliberately avoided a grammar-driven syllabus with all the books I've worked on so far. So as a writer/editor, I do actually agree with you.)

    Cheers

    Jeremy

  • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
    November 04, 2009

    Hi ya Jeremy, just quickly - quickly - as am dashing off to class 'til tonight but wanted to state super clearly that I am not "down with grammar" "take away grammar from coursebooks" I love understanding the why and why nots of a language.

    I'm saying let grammar follow the context not the context follow the grammar.

    We don't talk to each other in tenses, we talk to each other: the tenses are a by-product, if you will.

    If I'm talking about my daily tasks and responsibilities then I may use the present tense with an adverb of frequency, or I might not - perhaps I'll also inject a used to in there, and maybe even a next week I'm planning to start doing.... or even I really wish I something more...

    The problem with most textbooks is they start with the grammar and then try to invent a context around that one form, forgetting the other thousands of contexts!

    Not good.

    K

  • nicky says:
    November 04, 2009

    Just to play devil's advocate a bit, don't we see just that a lot of the time in textbooks anyway, Karenne?

    The example that pops into my head is the typical "complaining in the store/asking for a refund" situation, which inevitably brings you to Reported Speech, no? Or, the modals of obligation for "business culture and cultural differences" unit we've seen in umpteen-million BE textbooks?

    And isn't the recycling of previous learned forms (pres./past/future, etc.) kind of implicit in each case?

    A bit of a "which came first the chicken or the egg" thing, maybe. If the context and the grammar are both necessary, interesting, useful, etc., then it's valid, whether one necessitates the other or no.

    The grammar syllabus in and of itself doesn't demand a cut-dry, gapfill style of teaching (though I will concede that it may encourage it...) I mean, there are plenty of ways of doing controlled practice other than doing exercises, right? And it is worthwhile right? ("said the teacher, looking for some confirmation from his peers...")

    As a learner, I must say I feel like Jeremy. I made it a priority to speak as "nativey" as possible, which of course means learning tons and tons of lexis but also tons of grammar.

    (In fact, the first thing I noticed when I started reviewing the "Cambridge English for..." series was the absence of a grammar-based syllabus...and that's a good thing.)

  • Glennie says:
    November 04, 2009

    I'll do a bit of 'devil's advocating' now with nicky.

    I suspect that the Dogme people, with whom you may or may not agree, would say that going into class with 'complaining in the store' under your arm is part of the problem; that is, unless in the previous class students had commented on how much they would like to be able to make complaints in stores.

    The other problem is when we only teach 'complaining in the store' so that it will inevitably take us to Reported Speech (surely one of THE most tedious levels of TEFL, by the way). Once sts have pushed the right buttons, however much sts were enjoying complaining, Reported Speech takes over. And we are of into presentation, practice etc. By the end of the class, does any remember that you started with complaining?

    (Controlled practice. Worthwhile? We like/need to think so. But the jury will be out for ever.)

  • rliberni says:
    November 04, 2009

    My youngest daughter has just started learning Latin and when I looked at her text book a whole comfort zone opened up and I felt a whole history of learning French, German etc.. flood back. I seemed to see the point of learning Latin (which I loved incidentally). I can't explain the reason for this feeling but I do like grammar as a base and I think it is a very useful prop upon which to hang language. It's also a wonderful short-hand for explaining things. If we didn't put grammar at the heart then I wonder where the heart would be and this world looks a little chaotic to me. Although I still find most course books too generic and limiting I'm not prepared to let go of grammar yet.
    Your examples are great and illustrate the point that grammar isn't all important (in these cases spontaneity of language would defintely overule accuracy) BUT isn't it a good exercise to ponder on whether using a mixed conditional just might have got the point over a little better?

  • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
    November 04, 2009

    oh boy, I think I've done a hatchet job at explaining this...

    Really,
    I LOVE GRAMMAR ;-) I don't think grammar should be ignored, not, not, not at all.

    Nicky,

    I don't think the syllabus, the course-book plan should be based on grammatical structures building one on top of the other, I think it should be based on vocabulary which is itself based on contextual events related to our students lives.

    I believe that grammar is emergent and that various structures are required when speaking in any even context.

    It is in fact, not possible to use one grammatical structure consistently within any given conversation (other than in a forced text-book designed speaking exercise with no authenticity or connection to real life).

    e.g. your comment:

    "complaining in the store/asking for a refund" situation, which inevitably brings you to Reported Speech, no?

    "I bought this mini-disk 2 weeks ago and now it's not working. I'd bought another one the week before but I had to return it because it didn't work either and so I'm wondering if I couldn't just have a refund instead?"

    Declaring a requirement for the reported speech in a discussion at a shop when you have to ask for a refund does not do our students any good - because generally this is done in some kind of drilling situation without all the trimmings and when they get to the store they lack the vocabulary.

    Berni,

    Chaos is good. Life is chaos.
    But yes, it is important to ponder on the structures, to analyze them and discuss them.

    ;-)
    K

  • Betty C. says:
    November 04, 2009

    Very mixed reactions to this. As a language LEARNER, I cannot emphasize enough how much intensive grammar study was useful to me. I still dig into what I learned at univeristy decades ago every time I write a letter, correct a paper (in French,) and yes, even, speak.

    If you asked me: was it useful to you as a future French resident to study and memorize the subjunctive, I would say HELL YES!

    However, as an ENGLISH TEACHER, I'm very open to arguments that would allow me to ditch grammar from my syllabus...

    It's a strange paradox.

  • Glennie says:
    November 04, 2009

    I quite like the idea of the task-based approach of Jane and Dave Willis in which the teacher responds to the grammatical needs which emerge (like that work Karenne)as sts try to complete the task.

    I guess that means that the grammatical content of certain classes will be easy to predict as students inevitably find themselves unable to say certain things. But that doesn't mean that the task loses significance or gets forgotten.

    I would never want to underestimate the value of grammatical study for some sts. But it would be very satisfying to find a way in which students 'want' to use the present simple, for example, because of something they wish to communicate rather than because the tense itself has become the content of the class. I think that learning is far more likely if things are that way round.

  • Jeremy Day says:
    November 04, 2009

    Karenne

    Yup, I think it was a bit of a hatchet job. If only you hadn't asked us to think of ourselves as learners, you'd have got away with it ...

    As teachers, most of us instinctively agree that a grammar-driven syllabus is a bad thing.

    But as learners, you made us think beyond fashionable methodology and remember what it's like to be on the other side of the fence. And in certain circumstances (like low level general language classes), some/many students/learners like grammar-led syllabuses. We may wish they didn't, but ...

    I was thinking about this question today as I was teaching gool ol' Headway Pre-Int. (You see, Karenne - you always make me analyse what I do in the classroom, which is why I keep coming back here!) Sorry, I should say I was using HWPI to teach a group of very low level students. Don't teach books, teach people.

    It was past simple / past continuous - presentation-practice-production. Should have been awful, right?

    But you know what? They spent most of the 90 minutes speaking English together - asking and answering questions about their own lives. Sharing meaningful information. They were talking about what they did last weekend, last year, on their last birthday. They were communicating. They were being silly and playing with the language. It was wonderful and communicative. Real learning. Most of them couldn't string a sentence together a few weeks ago - no confidence. And now they were having long, funny conversations in English. They were even getting the grammar right more often than not.

    So for that class, a grammar-led syllabus was just the job. (For others, of course, it wouldn't be)

    Get that pesky unicorn away from the balloons!

  • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
    November 05, 2009

    Headway... you dare mention Headway on my blog... OMG, faint, you know I'm a dogmeist, don't ya?

    LOL, Jeremy, thank you, thank you so much for telling me I make you think about your teaching... and you and your opposite views throughout this series have been very insightful and I thank you so much for participating... now, how on earth do I dig myself out of this one??

    The only thing I keep coming up with is multiple intelligences, preferred learner styles but as Phillip Kerr via Lindsay Clandfield's blog went and debunked that theory... really am at a loss at what to say - I mean seriously as a language learner, I could not stand the grammar-based syllabus, felt a deep belly ache at the way the teacher presented one tense after the other after the other after the other but left me with no connection on how it could be applied in any kind of authentic setting.

    Am thinking of my own ex-mother-in-law who used to correct my grammar too.. but it was in context, it made sense and I welcomed that as my ex-husband just thought my mistakes were cute.

    But when she corrected me, it made sense -

    hhhhmmmmm... at a loss, any one want to help get me back out of this corner or put JD in one?

    LOL,

    K

  • Betty C. says:
    November 06, 2009

    I don't if you can put JD in a corner, but you can at least get out with your memory of a grammar-driven syllabus that "left me with no connection on how it could be applied in any kind of authentic setting."

    Isn't the key to give students that sort of opportunity to apply grammar and see how it can be applied in authentic settings? If the needs "emerge from the learners," as teachers hope for in dogme teaching, so much the better. But I think if teachers have to follow a grammar-driven syllabus for some reason, they can also help make those needs emerge, or at least give application opportunities that make the needs clear.

  • Moomin says:
    November 06, 2009

    Karenne,

    Damn you and your thought-provoking blog comments! Here I was ready to work on something...

    The issue I'm finding with this debate is that I can understand, and indeed appreciate the feelings of all parties. That isn't merely fence-sitting, rather as language learners we have each come from different background with very different experiences. Karenne, I share your sweat-inducing experience of grammar - mine was with German as an L2, taught by a Russian-speaker. Grammar, drilling, tests were in abundance. This is just my experience and I found that when I then came to live in Germany, as you say, I was lacking the lexis and subtle nuances in the language that I may have been more likely to encounter with a Lexical-Based Approach.

    Nicky - your 'chicken and egg' comment is however something I couldn't help thinking too. I think it is a very relevent point and I think important to try at least to identify which comes first in our own classrooms. For me it's lexis (is that the chicken or the egg?) and grammar becomes a naturally-emerging by-product of that.

    A couple of points that I can't somehow get over, and perhaps you cleverer people can help me here.

    1. I keep coming back to the idea of L1 acquisition. I'm aware of the evidence that as we grow our brains change in such a way as we are not able to acquire L2 in the same way. I wonder whether we change THAT much that we suddenly need a set of rules to fall back on in order to acquire L2. I would love more research in this area - some really scientific beefy stuff! Should we take a totally different approach and base the learning cycle of L2 completely on a grammatical syllabus? Is this not a world or even a universe away from our first uttering as children? I guess this point comes back to me often as I have a three-year old who is producing wonderful language such as "hi mummy, here me am" and "I can't find slippers. Where is them?". The teacher in me says I should correct, scaffold and develop him. The mummy in me says, no sweat, it's sweet - it'll change. The important thing is, I understand him and he has the space to experiment and learn from the people around him.

    2. My second point comes perhaps from my point of view as a teacher based in the UK. The students who I teach are predominantly students who live and work here and are looking a) to survive and b) to fit in and feel more confident (the dreaded Intermediate Plateau). Are you familiar with the Skills for Life syllabus here? I have to say it needs some re-working and isn't really aimed at the higher-level students but it is topic-based and focusses on those areas which students will encounter in the everyday lives. Grammar is given a secondary importance. Does an asylum-seeker from Somalia really care whether they are learning the difference between the present progressive and the simple present? Perhaps a drastic and niche point. But the issue remains the same does it not? Our approach should be student focussed. Why are our students learning English? What are their previous experiences of learning English or another language? If they have only ever been exposed to a grammar approach, how are they going to know to request anything different?

    So to round off a huge load of waffle, for which I apologise, I rely heavily on a comprehensive needs analysis with my students. I find out about THEM, what makes them tick, where are they coming from, what language experiences do they bring to the classroom and of equal importance, is there any room in that student's experience for a little experimentation. How about a compromise? Two Dogme lessons followed by a grammar review??

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

    Well wishes from the UK
    Emma Herrod

  • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
    November 06, 2009

    Emma,

    Yo tambien! (comprehensive needs analysis) and constant feedback sessions... have one group I've been doing connectors with (a big problem which emerged both in written and oral work)... we still have our conversation classes but now they have a self-produced list of these sitting on the desk and we glance towards it so they keep sticking them in appropriately.

    K

  • r2g says:
    November 06, 2009

    It's been a long time since I cracked open a textbook to use with my students. Do they really still have grammar based syllabi? I just come up with my own stuff. However, I do believe in teaching accuracy in spoken English. I've seen the damage that the communicative method can do and I guess I'm a fan of the 'third way'

  • Eric Baber says:
    November 06, 2009

    You know what I find amazing? That so many people spend so much time telling the world that they don't like textbooks. I don't like licorice; I can't think for the life of me why I would spend hours of my life telling the world why I don't like it. If you don't like textbooks, don't use them - there are plenty of alternatives around.

    :-)

    Eric

  • Glennie says:
    November 07, 2009

    Heavens above what an amazing string of comments!

    Trying to get the essentials down...

    Reasons for using a grammar-based textbook?:

    1. Student expectations.
    2. Institutional requirements for something which is structured, examinable and easily examined.
    3. Some learners actually respond to it.
    4. Teachers feel comfortable with it.

    Reasons for not using a grammar-based textbook:

    1. Some students do not respond to it.
    2. It puts the cart before the horse. (People don't talk to use grammar; they use grammar to talk.)

    We aren't getting out of here in a hurry folks!

    My responses at this stage:

    We should not always try to meet student expectations in terms of methodology. All things must change... now and again.

    Just because something is examinable does not mean that it is useful. What an institution needs is not always the same as what a learner needs.

    Some sts do appear to respond well to grammar and its analysis; some don't.

    Teachers comfort is neither here not there. Teachers need to be trained to understand that our understanding of what is good educational practice changes and that they have to be prepared to adapt to those changes (and have to be given help to do so!). Change is inherent to the profession. You don't like change? Don't be a teacher.

    Again and again, I have the feeling that task-based teaching appears to be the methodology that might come closest to keeping everyone happy.
    Those with a more grammar-based bias can adapt this method and do more grammar work than might be suggested in this article: http://tiny.cc/gJbDM. But the class begins with a task (horse before the cart).

  • Glennie says:
    November 07, 2009

    Are there any 'task-based teachers' out there who could give us the benefit of their experience?

  • Betty C. says:
    November 07, 2009

    I have been following this thread with interest. Could it be that textbooks become less practical the more students you have in a class and the more levels there are? My most successful experiences with textbooks were, first, a 200+ hour one-on-one class with a company manager who went from lower elementary to confirmed intermediate level. I really felt I needed the textbook in the first half or so of the course, although I was constantly adapting and expanding on it.

    Another successful textbook experience was with an elementary-level company class: 6 adult colleagues, similar level, different goals, but I think they were truly motivated by moving through the textbook together. Once again, of course I expanded on the material by adding a lot of task-based activities, but the textbook worked nicely as a guide.

    I absolutely cannot, however, imagine following a textbook with my business school students, who have disparate levels, goals, motivations...

    I think I am echoing what several commenters have said: it's all about adapting to the students' needs.In my two "textbook success stories," I would have ditched the book in a second if I had felt it wasn't working out.

  • Lindsay says:
    November 08, 2009

    As you might expect, I don't have that much of a problem with a grammar-based syllabus. I don't think it's like teaching maths to have one, unless the teacher chooses to make it that way. Unfortunately many teachers do exactly that (is the tool to blame?)

    As a beginning language learner of German (I did one course as research into being a language learner) I didn't really resent the fact we were following a grammar syllabus. And I felt I did need and benefit from doing one thing before the other, as long as there was time to speak and practise what I had studied.

    When I was learning Spanish in Guatemala I followed an intensive 1 to 1 course. We did all kinds of things, from walking around the town to studying poetry and songs. But part of every class we had some pretty straightforward grammar practice - and yes I would find myself sometimes thinking "wait a sec, should I use an usted form here or what's the plural form of that verb again". That's because I wanted to master the grammar and not just have a bunch of stock phrases.

    I also remember being pretty chuffed when I was able to drop a conditional structure into my Spanish correctly. I still feel chuffed when I come up with a good subjunctive in Spanish. But I am after all a language teacher and a (gulp) coursebook writer so perhaps I'm different.

    Anyway, I'll stop there. I only wanted to answer as a language learner on that really, as that was what you asked. I won't go into this as a teacher or a writer.

    Interesting to note that many people responding on this as learners find that they were quite comfortable with grammar study and grammar syllabi. I suspect the same story emerges when asked about drilling, or even gapfills (sometimes) or other things that are often criticized as dreadfully boring and useless.

    Thanks again Karenne, and yes an impressive list of comments. I enjoyed reading through these.

  • hoprea says:
    November 09, 2009

    At the risk of sounding trite, I guess it's not only a problem with a grammatical syllabus. One can find flaws in any kind of syllabus: the lexical syllabus, the notional-functional syllabus, or the task-based syllabus.

    In my view (or at least in my teaching context), the grammatical syllabus still abounds due to the fact that it is easier for novice teachers to follow and due to the fact that it is how most teachers have learned the language. We find ourselves in a comfort zone. I'd love to adopt a lexical syllabus, but would that apply to my teaching situation? When evaluating the textbook for adoption, don't we need to take teachers into account? What if it's really hard to find other dogmeists, or people who are knowledgeable in the Lexical approach?

    I'd go with what Richards says in his "Curriculum Development in Language Teaching" (page 257): 'It is also necessary to realize that no commercial textbook will ever be a perfect fit for a language program. Two factors are involved in the development of commercial textbooks: those representing the interests of the author, and those representing the interests of the publisher. The author is generally concerned to produce a text that teachers will find innovative, creative, relevant to their learners' needs, and that they will enjoy teaching from. [...] The publisher is primarily motivated by financial success."

    I had a chance to witness an author's frustration first hand when during a conversation in which I was deciding whether to adopt the book or not. When asked about the reasons why certain features (in this case, features from the lexical approach) weren't in the book, the answer was plain and simple, "It's got more of that than the publisher would like it to have, but way less than the authors would. According to research by the publisher, many teachers would have difficulties teaching from a book lexically-oriented."

    This makes me think that we still have too many "teachers" out there, and not many TEACHERS. Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

  • Rose Bard says:
    November 15, 2009

    "I'm saying let grammar follow the context not the context follow the grammar."

    I love this quote Karenne. Grammar should be treated as something just natural to language.

    As a language learner, I can share three experiences. One was when I went to London and learned English there. I remember my first week in a pub flirting to a gorgeous Australian guy. I had to strive to learn the words to make myself understood. So, I used to use a bilingual dictionary, find the word in Portuguese in order to learn in English, show the person and once the person repeated I would learn how to say it. I tried to communicate constantly with people everywhere.

    My second experience was in Egypt. My ex is an Egyptian and we lived there for while. There was no real need to learn arabic. Even though the girl who worked in my house and couldn't speak English well was who taught me arabic. By miming her in different contexts and learning vocabulary I could communicate reasonable way to go shopping, take a taxi, etc. Even today I can still remember few contexts and the language I need to talk in it. But don't ask me anything about arabic grammar...

    Last semester, I tried to learn Italian in a classroom. Due to the teacher constant grammar talk in class, I learned almost nothing. The only time learning was effective was when I want to say what activities I like doing and she though me the structure "Mi piace", then using the vocabulary in the book I started chanting.. Mi piace leggere libri. Mi piace guarda la TV. etc..Something that wasn't in the book, I didn't think of the grammar behind it, and I learned. Just like a learned English and a bit of Arabic.

    Even though I have to work with book with grammar based syllabus, I try hard to get around it. Not easy, because students who haven't ever learned a language in a natural context have hard time forgeting how they "learn" language in regular school. But I don't fully blame them. The language schools are still more concerned with the accuracy in the testing than with effective communication.

 

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