“An Approach in Teaching English Intensively: Reflection from Experience”

By Pegova Valentina Vladimirovna, English language instructor, Preparatory Program, AUCA, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, e-mail: prep@mail.auca.kg

I’ve been teaching English for more than 42 years at various language programs. I’ve been teaching English at AUCA since August as a full time instructor of the Preparatory Program to conduct TOEFL, EAP, Grammar, Composition to the yearly learners of the program and most of my learners usually pass the exams in March on the first try with the score enough to enter the programs they choose.

I’ve also been performing advising duties. Before teaching at AUCA I taught English having various positions: an English language instructor, English language Senior instructor of the Highest category, methodology specialist, Vice-Principal at different periods of time. I also had my teaching  position of Assistant Professor to teach EAP and Business English for Law, Finance and Computer Science majors at International University in Kyrgyzstan.

My approach in teaching English intensively focuses on the importance of structuring and systematizing learners’ knowledge, especially its grammar system. I am dependent on a series of tables for this purpose. They are intended to be distributed by the instructor for inclusion in the Grammar Reference Portfolios.

The article is targeted to students and teachers of foreign languages, especially those dealing with preparation low level English knowledge students for the TOEFL exam. My article as it is does not offer any innovations, but the focus is how to use teaching tools as students’ portfolios in drilling the language skills, particular in grammar.

The goal of using grammar blocks and charts is to provide learners of the preparatory program with a number of opportunities to be confident, comfortable, and skilled during their studies at prep program. My students always needed to have some ways to organize their knowledge in a short time frame. I was busy deliberating and adjusting my own intensive English language teaching course based on the use of a wide variety of tools aimed at a speedy acquisition and practical usage of the English language.

Additionally, the standard English language knowledge proficiency level of my learners, who are primarily high school students, has recently fallen down and keeps decreasing. However, the overall goal of the preparatory program has remained the same: to ensure successful passing of the TOEFL test and subsequent enrollment in AUCA. The combination of these factors has inspired me to find a creative solution to this problem.

The solution is found in an attempt to create a systematic organization of the language structure (grammar) in the form of Grammar Reference Portfolio compiled by the learners from the handouts received during class sessions. The rationale behind this approach is the need for students to be able to learn on their own, beyond the classroom. My role of a teacher is not to simply teach the language but to teach them how to learn, independently and continuously with the focus on self-studies.

To facilitate the learning process, for each student I prepare sets of handouts using the information from various printed, online, and my own resources. Students begin their portfolios from the first lesson when the initial handouts are presented and adequate practice has been offered. The students collect the handouts and use them when they need to look up a grammar construction to support their learning. This support is used in all of their classes: TOEFL, English for Academic Purposes, and Writing.

The driving principle of this method is to teach intensively is presentation of what I call “building grammar blocks of the language”.

Each block is presented from the whole (uncomplicated, simple) to the parts (more complex). The blocks are organized in such a way as to recycle the material and accumulate it as a snowball.

                      My method of teaching embraces 11 blocks.

The first block includes the phonetic alphabet and rules of reading to build a strong foundation for independent study when students can learn a new language without the help of the instructor.

The second block embraces Parts of the English Sentence where students learn about word order and parts of speech. The material is presented in charts and tables and further practices is accomplished through drill exercises in textbooks. The order of presentation is the following:

-          Nouns, Classes of Nouns, and Parts of Speech that define nouns: possessive pronouns, demonstratives, articles.

-          Adjectives, Degrees of Comparison

-          Pronouns, Cases of Personal Pronouns, Indefinite Pronouns, Demonstratives

-          Numerals, Cardinal and Ordinal

-          Articles, Indefinite, Definite, Zero

-          Adverbs, Degrees of Comparison

-          Prepositions and Conjunctions

-          Verbs

The third block is dealing with aspects of English predicates (Verbs in some Grammar textbooks).

The fourth block presents Voice and Moods – Active, Passive, Imperative, and Subjunctive.

The fifth block is about modals – modal verbs and their equivalents in common usage and supposition. For example, the modal verb “must” in its common usage is presented with meanings of duty, obligation, necessity, order, prohibition and its equivalents “to have to + V” and “to be to + V.” However, in its supposition meaning, the verb “must” is used to express a high degree of assurance; for example, They must be swimming now; we can hear them splashing in the swimming pool.

The sixth block introduces the types of English sentences: simple, compound, and complex.

The seventh block presents complex on clauses, including only adverb clauses, object clause, and sequence of tenses as it is closely related to object clause.

The eighth block deals with reported speech for requests and orders, reported statements, and reported questions.

Block Nine introduces the non-finite forms of the English verbs: the Infinitive, Participles I and II, and the Gerund. Block Ten explains the rules of Complex Object and Complex Subject. Finally, in the eleventh block the students learn about subjunctive mood, in conditional clauses in particular, with explanations of types of conditions: condition 0, 1, 2, 3 and mixed condition.

The regular practice of my personally developed English language teaching program is based on two language teaching methodological philosophies:

-          From the whole to the parts

-          From the simplicity to the complexity

These two foundational principles are applied to all the eleven grammar blocks that are considered in this article. All the grammar blocks are depicted in different charts to present the material from the whole to the parts, from the simplest to the most complex after which the subject matter is practised in the grammar reference books required for the learners, mainly Understanding and Using  English Grammar by Azar B. and Delta’s Key to the TOEFL test. The charts are given as handouts during the initial presentation of the material, and students file them as parts of the portfolio to use as reference material.

As an example to illustrate the use of grammar blocks you can see the grammar block “Non-Finite Forms of the English Verbs” in charts aimed to speedy up gives possibilities the mastery of one of the most complicated grammar concepts enable to use different forms of English infinities, participles I and II, and gerund.

[File: Pegova1]

The goal of this article is not only the demonstrate the entire list of all activities that support the charts and tables necessary to increase the four basic skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing, but also to build the grammar reference portfolio by students based on the following principles:

-          General introduction of the grammar material

-          Initial practice of the new structure in various situations

-          Additional practice to help internalize the structure

-          Use as reference material for independent study

The scope of this article does not allow the teacher to demonstrate all the charts and tables included in the student portfolios, but it is aimed to introduce the intensive teaching of the English language with the purpose to improve considerably students’ knowledge of the English Language from elementary to upper-intermediate level for one academic year.



Embree, J.A. (1996). Practical English grammar: A Sentence-To-Paragraph Approach. Mayfield Publishing Company.

Thomson, A.J. (1978). A practical English grammar. Macmillan Publishing Company.

Willing, K. (1989). Teaching how to learn: Learning strategies in ESL. Macquarie University.

Swan, M. (1984). Practical English usage. Moscow Vyssaja Skola.

Fuchs, Marjorie. (1998). Focus on grammar: Beginning workbook. Oxford University Press.

Kachalova, K.N., Israilevich, E.E. (1996). English grammar. Moscow

Azar, B.S. (2000). Understanding and Using English Grammar. Longman: Pearson Education.