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  1. #1
    pmrozik is offline Newbie
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    Default The infamous articles

    Hi All!

    I once told myself that I'd sit down and give articles in English a thorough analysis and then create a lesson plan which would magically make students use them correctly.

    Apart from being very strict with articles when teaching beginners, I have yet to figure out an effective way of teaching them.

    Yes, there are rules, and Oxford's Practical English gives some nice tips, but at the end of the day many people get lost. On top of that, there are some minute differences between AmE and BrE which makes things all the more complicated. Example:

    I'm used to saying, "I have to go to the hospital."
    I've heard people from the UK say, "I'm at hospital."

    My current concept of teaching articles is:

    1. Write down all the known rules
    2. Work on each rule separately until successful
    3. Make students work on fill in the blank exercises
    4. Repeat #3 for as long as necessary (a lifetime? :P)

    The biggest problem is that I have advanced level students whose English is superb and they constantly make mistakes when using articles.

    What are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Trance Freak's Avatar
    Trance Freak is offline Senior Member
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    Cool Re: The infamous articles

    Nice methodology actually, but maybe u shud try the Primacy of Msge, where there is a constant shift from grammar correctness to fluency: as in the Communicative Competance + ALM : in order to detect linguistic lacks & communicative needs.
    u can also devide ur board into Am & British columns where u introduce ur students to 3 or 4 as a max.
    wud u tell me if i stated ne wrong info, plz? thnku



    May I remind you of this rule:
    Don't use 'chatlish'
    This is a forum for discussing the English language. There is no need to write formally, but this is not a chatroom, so please write normal English, with punctuation, capital letters and words written in full; use you not u, I not i, great not gr8, etc. Don't worry about making mistakes, which is normal when learning a language, but do please try to make your English easy to read.




    Last edited by Anglika; 12-Dec-2009 at 15:04. Reason: rule reminder

  3. #3
    Airone is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: The infamous articles

    Quote Originally Posted by pmrozik View Post
    Hi All!

    I once told myself that I'd sit down and give articles in English a thorough analysis and then create a lesson plan which would magically make students use them correctly.

    Apart from being very strict with articles when teaching beginners, I have yet to figure out an effective way of teaching them.

    Yes, there are rules, and Oxford's Practical English gives some nice tips, but at the end of the day many people get lost. On top of that, there are some minute differences between AmE and BrE which makes things all the more complicated. Example:

    I'm used to saying, "I have to go to the hospital."
    I've heard people from the UK say, "I'm at hospital."

    My current concept of teaching articles is:

    1. Write down all the known rules
    2. Work on each rule separately until successful
    3. Make students work on fill in the blank exercises
    4. Repeat #3 for as long as necessary (a lifetime? :P)

    The biggest problem is that I have advanced level students whose English is superb and they constantly make mistakes when using articles.

    What are your thoughts?
    I'm not a grammarian, but here are my thoughts:

    Though there are some rules for articles a lot of it is intuition. As a teaching aid I made a grid that looks like the following:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    .....................................the.......... ......a...............[no article]

    singular noun.............................................. ................X........

    plural noun...........................................X.. ............................

    uncountable noun..................................X........... ...................

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Sorry about the stupid periods (full stops), but if I type in spaces, they get erased. In the spaces that don't have the X, for example the intersection between "uncountable noun" and "the", I put in brief indications to usage. I won't say "rules", because as I said they're not really rules.

    Anyway, I don't pull this sheet out immediately. The first thing I have them do is a few exercizes which consist of texts with the articles blanked out. The easier ones naturally give the options while the harder ones just omit all articles and it's up to the student to decide where and if to put them in.

    The students can usually do the multiple choice one pretty well without my chart. If they have difficulty I pull out the chart and it's usually enough.

    If students get frustrated at the lack of clear rules, I refer them back to their native language, Italian, which is similar in some respects in article usage, rather than drag them through all the indications given in my English grammar guides. I'd prefer to have my students be able to communicate spontaneously and mess up a few articles rather than have them agonize over the rules before they open their mouth.

    I do go over general rules over one or two lessons, but I find that constant reminding works better than one or two exhaustive lessons, like so many other grammar points. A magic lesson that teaches them all they need to know about articles or any other grammar point simply doesn't exist, as far as I can see.
    Last edited by Airone; 05-Feb-2010 at 23:32. Reason: formatting woes

  4. #4
    Alex Case is offline Site Contributor
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    Default Re: The infamous articles

    I don't have any proof that it's more effective, but I take a multi-pronged approach
    - Teach the general rules, but giving as many alternative explanations for each one as I can, e.g. "the" equals "this" or "that" as well as the more well known "you know which one" explanation
    - Work on one group of words that illustrates that point, e.g. place names with "the"
    - Work on memorizing some memorable language including articles like film titles in English (TEFLtastic Film and song titles articles correct the mistakes) or lyrics to a song
    - Lots of writing for homework with self correction

    More on this by me:

    15 top tips for learning articles

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