teaching complicated and complex grammar to Japanese

English grammar and usage issues

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teaching complicated and complex grammar to Japanese

Unread postby BigZen » 17 Jul 2011, 22:39

Hello,

I teach writing at a high school in Japan. Last week I gave my students a lesson about the use of count vs. noncount nouns which included the different uses of some vs. any (some used in the positive sense and any in the negative). I included in the lesson lots of practice questions. I teach the lesson in Enlgish, though I sometimes revert to Japanese when I feel it best. My Japanese language ability is probably at the intermediate level.

After class two female students approached me with some questions about the lesson. They were confused about the use of some vs. any and I told them that the rule I gave them should be considered not absolute since there are many exceptions in English grammar. We use a English Grammar Text (Boost Grammar) and a writing book for Japanese classes (Magic Hat) which has the English lessons with Japanese explantations. I told these students that one of the four Japanese English teachers at the school could give them a far more clear and cogent explanation to their grammar question than I could, since my mixed English and Japanese explanation seemed to confuse them more. I also recommended they buy a good Japanese book of English grammar.

In the class I do try to provide the students with lots of hands on grammar practice in order to help them learn by example (induction). However, I feel a bit like I am not meeting there learning needs as an instructor when I cannot provide them with clear explanations. I know from my own experience learning Japanese here how difficult it is in an all Japanese language class with a teacher who cannot speak English when I have a question for the teacher and he/she cannot answer it in English.Any advice would be appreciated.
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Re: teaching complicated and complex grammar to Japanese

Unread postby Alex Case » 20 Jul 2011, 23:03

I teach in Japan and although my level of Japanese is okay, I never find myself needing to resort to Japanese to explain grammar. A good 4 week TEFL course like the CELTA usually teaches all you need to know to be able to do that. Looking at the grammar in a bunch of books like The Cambridge Grammar of English and Murphy's and choosing the best explanations and borrowing bits of it for your grammar presentations would also help.

In this case, were you using the old "Some for statements, any for negatives and questions" over-simplification? Even with the typical textbook add-on of "but some for requests and offers", it doesn't take students long to find exceptions. The much more general rule, from The English Verb by Michael Lewis, I think, is that any means "zero or not zero" e.g. "Haven't you had any tea??" and some is an amount somewhere between a bit and a lot, e.g. "Would you like some tea?"
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Re: teaching complicated and complex grammar to Japanese

Unread postby BigZen » 26 Jul 2011, 22:57

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the reply and advice. I did complete at CELTA in Vancouver in 2000,

Thanks for your help!
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